Development and Implementation of School Curricula

Before Reading:

 How do you think that school curricula are developed?

            Prior to beginning my studies in the Faculty of Education, I have never thought about what, how, or who develops school curricula – I never questioned the complexity, power dynamics, and influences that goes into the constructions of schooling and curriculum that are imposed on teachers and students. In understanding the ways in which power relations *control* many aspects of societal norms and operations, and ultimately that much of one’s knowledge is socially constructed, I would assume that school curricula are developed in much of the same way. Being that schooling does operate through a type of hierarchy, I would assume those in power of the development of curricula are professionals employed with the Government/Ministry of Education. Moreover, just as societal norms change over time, I believe that school curricula and the education system change along with this – because the power relations are shifting, and thus those who develop and/or influence what should be learned in schools and how this will be learned, will also shift. Education, in my opinion, is never stagnant.

After Reading – Reflect:

How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?

            After reading the article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should Be Learned in Schools, I was reaffirmed by my assumption regarding the complexity that lies with the construction of schooling, as well as the development and implementation of curricula. There seems to be a hefty process that goes into designing and implementing the curriculum – much of this is shaped by political influence. There are conversations – among many different people – regarding curricula, and debates that follow. The politics of curriculum, as discussed in the article, involve two main discussions. For instance, there is conversation concerning the overall shape of school curricula, such as what subjects should be included or excluded. In addition, there is also conversation surrounding what content of a particular subject should be included and taught to students – which can lead to disagreements and debates, as many people tend to have different views about what should be included in each subject and what should be taught to particular age groups. However, the article mentioned that “everyone has gone to school, so just about everyone has a feeling of being knowledgeable and a personal response to educational issues” – most people who have gone to school believe that they know the ways around schooling, such as what should be taught and when or what makes a good teacher and student, as so forth. Thus, who gets the final say in curriculum development and implementation, being that everybody has an opinion regarding the matter?

Many people are involved in the politics surrounding curriculum development and implementation. As stated in the article, “education governance typically involves some combination of national, local, and school participation… in most jurisdictions, final authority over curriculum rests with national or subnational governments.” Thus, in my understanding, it seems that the final say in curriculum development and implementation truly lies with those in power – many curriculum decisions are subjected to all sorts of political influences, such as one’s personal preferences. However, in some cases, schools and districts have some control (which varies from region to region) over the curriculum – they have some influence and/or choice in regards to which courses/programs are taught and how much time is spent on these. Therefore, teachers, principals, senior administrators, and elected local authorities are all involved in curriculum reviews and decisions. With all those involved in the development of curriculum, I can only imagine the differing perspectives and dilemmas that arise – just as the personal preferences of those with governmental power influence the development of curriculum, the same thing likely occurs within these education stakeholder groups. As the article stated, “those associated with each subject or topic will advance its importance – which is often linked with their own employment prospects and importance… of course scientists or music teachers or tradespersons also genuinely believe that their field is important for students, but one cannot ignore the role of self-interest in these debates.” Thus, it is easy for one person’s biases and opinions to overtake their final say surrounding particular decisions. On the other hand, being that there are so many participants in the development and implementation of curriculum, the differing perspectives could lead to a more just outcome (*hopefully*). Being that one’s positionality – as previously assumed – seems to be one of the determining factors in curriculum development, whether consciously or not, I can see the benefit in having multiple voices and debates involved in the discussion.

I was surprised to read about the influence of post-secondary institutions on school curriculum. This influence is seen more so in secondary school, which makes sense – some of the pre-requisites needed for particular university courses are those offered in high school. I know when I first started at the University of Regina, I needed to have completed at least 2 of (I could be mistaken) BIO 30, PHYSICS 30, and/or CHEM 30 in order to be accepted into the Kinesiology program. Secondary schools often carry the image of “preparing students for further study”, thus meeting the curricular requirements for university would, in some sense, be doing just that. Moreover, within this factor, are multiple others influences – for example, different industries try to promote the subjects and programs that will support labor and market needs, or groups may want the curriculum to reflect particular issues and perspectives, which influences what type of content in taught in specific subjects (such as implementing history and literature of minority and indigenous groups).

Ultimately, I was surprised as to how extensive and complex curriculum processes are – though it does not surprise, it was not ever something I assumed I should think about or needed to understand. As stated in the article, “curriculum decisions and choices are shaped in large measure by other considerations – ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests. Curriculum decisions are often part of a much larger public debate that often extends beyond education to larger questions of public good.” The development and implementation of curricula is complex – it involves more than just looking at a students educational needs.



One thought on “Development and Implementation of School Curricula

Add yours

  1. Hi Sara,
    I enjoyed reading your post, it is very well thought-out. I feel very similar when you said, “I never questioned the complexity, power dynamics, and influences that goes into the constructions of schooling and curriculum that are imposed on teachers and students”. I too never thought about all the aspects of curriculum and how political it can be. I think that has been my biggest realization in this course so far.

    Thanks for sharing,


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