|Teaching (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 34 p.)|
All components of the curriculum are aligned to create a cohesive programme for accomplishing instructional purposes and goals.
Research indicates that educational policy-makers, textbook publishers and teachers often become so focused on content coverage or learning activities that they lose sight of the larger purposes and goals that are supposed to guide curriculum planning. Teachers typically plan by concentrating on the content they intend to cover and the steps involved in the activities their students will carry out, without giving much thought to the goals or intended outcomes of the instruction. Textbook publishers, in response to pressure from special interest groups, tend to keep expanding their content coverage. As a result, too many topics are covered in not enough depth; content exposition often lacks coherence and is cluttered with insertions; skills are taught separately from knowledge content rather than integrated with it; and in general, neither the students texts nor the questions and activities suggested in the teachers manuals are structured around powerful ideas connected to important goals.
Students taught using such textbooks may be asked to memorize parades of disconnected facts or to practise disconnected subskills in isolation instead of learning coherent networks of connected content structured around powerful ideas. These problems are often exacerbated by externally imposed assessment programmes that emphasize recognition of isolated bits of knowledge or performance of isolated subskills. Such problems can be minimized through goal-oriented curriculum development, in which curricular planning is guided by the overall purposes and goals of the instruction, not by miscellaneous content coverage pressures or test items.
In the classroom
A curriculum is not an end in itself; it is a means of helping students to learn what is considered essential for preparing them to fulfil adult roles in society and realize their potential as individuals. Its goals are learner outcomes-the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and dispositions to action that society wishes to develop in its citizens. The goals are the reason for the existence of the curriculum, so that beliefs about what is needed to accomplish them should guide each step in curriculum planning and implementation. Goals are most likely to be attained if all of the curriculums components (content clusters, instructional methods, learning activities and assessment tools) are selected because they are believed to be needed as means of helping students to accomplish the overall purposes and goals.
This involves planning curriculum and instruction to develop capabilities that students can use in their lives inside and outside school, both now and in the future. In this regard, it is important to emphasize goals of understanding, appreciation and life application. Understanding means that students learn both the individual elements in a network of related content and the connections among them, so that they can explain the content in their own words and connect it to their prior knowledge. Appreciation means that students value what they are learning because they understand that there are good reasons for learning it. Life application means that students retain their learning in a form that makes it usable when needed in other contexts.
Content developed with these goals in mind is likely to be retained as meaningful learning that is internally coherent, well connected with other meaningful learning and accessible for application. This is most likely to occur when the content itself is structured around powerful ideas and the development of this content through classroom lessons and learning activities focuses on these ideas and their connections.
References: Beck & McKeown (1988); Clark & Peterson (1986); Wang, Haertel & Walberg (1993).