This essay will focus on discussing the statement above, critically analysing the concepts of curriculum design, inclusive practice and effective practice. Curriculum design will look at the formal and informal elements of the curriculum and the learners’ own expectations of what their learning experience will do for them. Inclusive practice will show how I endeavour to ensure my teaching is personalised to individual learners, my own definition and experience of inclusive practice is, in turn, linked to my own cultural context of learning. Effective practice will include how a wide range of individuals, each with different expectations in terms of the outcomes of teaching, have on what ‘defines’ effective practice. For me, teaching is all about the positive experience for the learner, however the influences of others within the teaching environment cannot be ignored.
There are numerous definitions of curriculum, and the concept has evolved over the years, influenced by the political, economic and social environment at the time. It has its origins in the running/chariot tracks of Greece. It was, literally, a course. In Latin curriculum was a racing chariot; currere was to run. A useful starting point for us here might be the definition offered by John Kerr and taken up by Vic Kelly in his standard work on the subject. Kerr 9quoted in Kelly 1883,10) defines curriculum as:
“All the learning, which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school”
From my experience, both as a pupil within the educational establishment and as a teacher, this is the definition, which aligns most closely with my own first hand experience. I see curriculum more than just the scheme of work or the set syllabus by the awarding body. It’s about the overall educational package and facilities offered by the establishment. Beyond that, it’s about the wider range of life skills that students gain from engaging in a course, which can provide routine and structure. My own definition of success and effective practice, which I shall go on to define in greater detail later on in this essay, is aligned with ensuring that learners gain skills required for successful progression in their career, discipline and relating to their peers and the wider community. Teaching, in terms of the product or content model of curriculum is just a part of this.
The concept of curriculum design and the impact this has on effective teaching and learning is a relatively new concept. There are four generally accepted models in common usage but it is an evolving area.
The product model is closely associated with the work of Ralph Tyler (1971). It is the earliest, having been formulated by Frank Bobbit with his work ‘The Curriculum’, as early as 1918. It is a learning cycle focusing on behavioural targets for learning. Often found in military teaching as it breaks jobs into processes purposely not allowing room for thought.
The content model focuses on the ‘what’ of learning and was developed by Paul Hirst (1974). Hirst believes there are key areas of mathematics, physical science, knowledge of persons, literature and fine arts, morals, religion and philosophy. The prime aim becomes a transmission of wisdom. Most of us have been through the O level or GCSE syllabus at school where we are asked to undertake a range of key subjects in order to achieve what is deemed to be ‘a balanced curriculum’. This process can be seen in the curriculum I teach as there are definite areas which are key to learning and which have to be covered by students in order to complete the course. Of course there are many different ways of getting this information across to ensure learning takes place.
The process model was developed by Stenhouse (1975) where he produced the following...