Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Curriculum - Part I

Over the next few posts I am going to summarise my understandings about curriculum. I was going to do this separately but thought that the purpose of my blog is for me to think through my understandings so it is the perfect place to express this. Feel free to question anything I've written if it doesn't make sense!

What is curriculum?
A school's curriculum is key to its operation. It should reflect the values and beliefs that are outlined in the mission and can be seen as a 'road map' for enacting the mission. Curriculum is developed in order to cause learning.

Learning occurs when we add new knowledge or skills OR when we consolidate knowledge and skills that we already have. Learning enables us to achieve understanding, which is skills, knowledge and dispositions/attitudes in action.

The main goal of curriculum s to cause learning. Learning can be separated into two types - conceptual learning and skill/process learning.

Conceptual learning is happening when students are:
- Connecting new knowledge to prior understanding and to important concepts in order to construct theories of (i) how things work and (ii) why things are the way they are.
- Testing their theories in different contexts in order to (i) refine them so they have more and more explanatory power and (ii) see, when, where and how they apply.

Skill/Process learning is happening when students are:
- Comparing their performance to expert performances in order to identify ways to improve.
- Practicing a skill or process in order to make their performance more and more automatic.

Curriculum commonly includes both conceptual and skill/process learning in their design. These will be explained in greater detail and context in following posts.

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