This week my class was asked to consider whether we believe that curriculum is inflexible and unsupportive of optimal learning. I believe that older models of curriculum were created in societies where children’s family lives and backgrounds were more homogenous. Despite a few variations, parents raised their children the same way, certain family dynamics and roles were in place, and children belonged as much to the community as their own family. However, many can agree that that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. If all students were typically developing and they all came from similar home lives, they might be served well under older models of curriculum (even this is not a certainty). With the diverse backgrounds that students bring to the background, curriculum needs to reflect those changes; it must be culturally responsive.
We were also asked to consider the benefits and drawbacks of focusing more on the weaknesses and strengths of curriculum than students. A benefit to this approach is that focusing on the curriculum is an opportunity for a teacher to remodel it to optimize student learning. Universally designed curriculum is of no use to students if the curriculum is unsatisfactory or outdated. The teacher has the chance to draw on their years of experience in the classroom, including successes and failures, and construct a curriculum that fosters innovation, creative thinking, optimal information processing, and other 21st century skills. On the other hand, a drawback to this approach could be that a teacher becomes so focused on the curriculum that they do not take time to get to know their students individually. In the end, they could continue to be curriculum-driven and curriculum-focused, a model which has not served education well to date.