Curriculum Development for Inclusive Practice

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Unit 6 Curriculum development for inclusive practice

What do we mean by the word ‘curriculum’? A definition given by John Kerr and quoted by Vic Kelly is '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’. (quoted in Kelly 1983 P10). The idea of curriculum is not exactly a new one; the word itself has its roots in ancient Greek and Latin. But the way it is understood and the way that it has been theorised has altered over the years. There are two key features and four main curriculum models which we will look at now. We have to stipulate in advance what exactly we are looking to achieve and how we are to achieve it, in other words learning is planned and guided. We should also recognise that our current understanding of curriculum theory and practice has emerged from the school in relation to other ideas such as subjects and lessons. We will at this point consider the four main approaches to curriculum theory and practice; syllabus, product, process, and praxis. Syllabus, again comes from Greek and Latin origins, meaning ‘to list’, or a concise statement, the contents of a treatise, the subjects of a series of lectures. We can look at it as a body of knowledge to be transmitted or delivered to the students in the best and most effective means we have at our disposal. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted is concerned only with content, it is designed for the student to gain various information to enable them to pass an examination, for example an ‘A level’ in, say, History the content will be dictated by the examination board in the form of the scheme of works, and the delivery will more than likely be in the form of a lecture, which is not inclusive to all learning styles. Curriculum as product is concerned with specific outcomes. Objectives are set, lesson plans are devised and applied, and the outcomes, or ‘products’ are measured often by the completion of set practical tasks, along with the unpinning knowledge, to form the learning objectives.  It is in this way that has given rise to more vocational courses, NVQs, VRQs etc. in schools and the concern on how the curriculum was thought about, as to what its objectives and content should be. Knowledge can be seen along the lines as a manufactured product. In other words a student starts by knowing very little or nothing about their chosen subject, is then taught, they then turn that knowledge or skill into action. One drawback with the product model is that students are generally left out of the curriculum design; they are simply told what to learn. The product model, by having a pre-set plan or program, has the tendency to direct attention towards the teaching, or how the information is given. It is quite inflexible, but its systematic approach is easily measureable. We can now contrast the product model and look at curriculum as a process. The students in this model have more of a clear voice in the way that the lessons evolve. This model is about interaction, variable and experimental learning. This can mean that the focus shifts from teaching to learning; it is an interaction between teacher, student and knowledge. Curriculum as process is a cognitive way of teaching, and a learning which emphasises that students should ‘learn how to learn’ and make full use of their experience rather than simply meeting a set of objectives or outcomes. We are looking at the gradual development of the student and therefore the curriculum should not be too prescriptive as we have seen in the product model. The kinds of courses that fall easily into this model are art and leisure classes. One of the weaknesses of the process model is that it depends upon the attributes of the teacher. There is no ‘get out’ in the form of prescribed curriculum materials if the interaction breaks down. The approach is highly dependent upon experimentation and the inclusivity within the...
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