Personal Education Curriculum Philosophy

Introduction

It is my belief that education should equip students with the ability to gain knowledge, process it, and apply it in their day-to-day activities. Education enables the learners to think effectively. Education can enable learners to think on their own, hence they are bound to be successful in life irrespective of their future performances. An ‘educated’ student has the ability to handle any job-related challenges and seek solutions to all possible personal problems. A viable curriculum should take into account the students’ different learning styles. Therefore, a teacher should “bring a different knowledge set to thinking, and…bring a new set of knowledge and experience to the task” (Bailey, 2014). In essence, a good curriculum should be focused on increasing a student’s ability to think critically and seek solutions to various problems. However, most of the existing curriculums are formulated around students’ ability to take tests. Teachers in the k-12 education system are putting unnecessary efforts when preparing students for standard examinations. Consequently, most available curriculums have ignored the learning needs of individual students. The students who are unable to take standard tests end up facing a form of ‘systematic rejection’ from most institutional frameworks (Baurain, 2011). When thinking about learning, one can consider the example of a kindergarten class that is studying an outdoors stream. Some students will be interested in the flowing water, others will focus on the fauna, and another group will centralize their learning on the flora. This example indicates that learning cannot be unidirectional but it should give the students the ability to focus on diverse aspects of life. In this example, all the students learn about the stream but each walks away with different perspectives about its purpose. This paper is my personal curriculum philosophy, which is mostly influenced by progressive functionalism and perennialism.

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The Purpose of Education

One of the earliest definitions of the true purpose of education is that it “opens the mind, corrects it, refines it, and enables it to know and to digest” (McTighe & Wiggins, 2012). Consequently, education is not a means for achieving something. However, education enables students to achieve something. A good education curriculum should not have the ability to shape but to equip students with a specific set of skills. On the other hand, education should enable students to manipulate the knowledge that they have achieved in the course of their studies. Static knowledge is not a product of a purposeful education. Moreover, static knowledge is more of a burden than a solution to students.

Education should also act as tool for enhancing personal growth among students. One educationist argues that education is most relative to the aspect of growth and it is only inferior to higher levels of education (Fisher, 2013). Therefore, the ultimate goal of education should be to enhance the intellectual growth of learners with respect to previous levels of learning. Any education that does not instill personal growth among learners is structurally weak. Through education, the students’ minds are able to encounter knowledge and derive meaning from it. Consequently, “the mind is the instrument, knowledge is the material, and learning is the process that results in personal growth” (Bailey, 2014). A good education provides the student’s mind with tactics of accessing study materials in a viable environment. In addition, education should equip the learner with the ability to acquire, observe, analyze, and consider the contents of learning materials. Education does not have a single purpose in respect to learning and students. However, education has several purposes that are in respect to a wholesome learning experience.

Classroom Instructional Methods

There are several instructional methods that can be employed in teaching. However, most of these methods rely on the fundamental principles of learning and teaching environments. A good instructional method should focus on the principle of foundational knowledge. Foundational knowledge enables a teacher to focus on the core content of any course. Any successful teaching methods dictate that a student should understand and remember the core content of the studied course materials. For instance, foundational knowledge is an important consideration when teaching kindergarten-level students. Consequently, there is a lot of reciting and memorizing when teaching at the elementary level.

A good instructional method should also factor in the students’ ability to apply what they have studied. Therefore, physical activities, creative thinking, and problem solving are important components of a good instructional method. There are differences in tactics when teaching various subjects. For instance, teaching social studies at the k-12 level requires an instructional method that stimulates the students to examine the truth from multiple angles. On the other hand, a mathematics teacher would construct an instructional method that requires students to examine facts in a singular manner.

After incorporating the learning objectives in a course, it is also important for instructors to incorporate learning objectives in their teaching instructions. A learning objective prompts students to remember and understand key concepts. Learning objectives also point out a student’s ability to use the content that he/she has studied. A good instructional method should also incorporate several aspects of the human condition. For example, a good instructional method should take into account the students’ caring element (Polson & Richardson, 2013). Therefore, when teaching k-12 level students, an instructor should be aware that the students are likely to develop emotional/personal feelings towards certain areas of study. The students’ personal interactions also play a major role when teachers are designing instructional methods.

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Curriculum Content and Organization

The process of acquiring knowledge is dependent on successful methods of “revealing uncreated and pre-existing truths” according to Thomas Aquinas (Mayer, Aquinas & Fitzpatrick, 2010). Using this logic, a good teaching curriculum should factor in the existent and the non-existent elements of learning. Moreover, a teaching curriculum that combines all aspects of knowledge acquisition is a valuable asset during curriculum development. For example, when I am teaching students about China, my curriculum should encompass books, videos, and discussions. Furthermore, my curriculum would cater for the unknown aspects of Chinese culture by incorporating an activity about the “Chinese Festival” in the curriculum.

It is my belief that a curriculum should cater for the present and future needs of learners. Furthermore, ‘a good curriculum should be a process as opposed to it being an end product’ (Tyler, 2013). Studies about world history and culture should have a curriculum that has the ability to ‘take’ k-12 level students around the world. For example, an eighth grade curriculum encompasses several class activities because at this age student are very inquisitive about their external surroundings. Consequently, plays and festivals are a constant fixture in an eighth-grade level curriculum. A curriculum should act as a bridge between the teacher and the student where the former acts more like a facilitator than an instructor.

Appropriate Assessment

Accrediting students’ performance is a very important activity in teaching. Consequently, even though the teaching methods might differ, the modes of accreditation are largely standard. Accreditation standards become more complex as the levels of education go higher. Assessing the performance levels of a kindergarten school student is relatively easier than testing a twelfth grade student. The main aspect of an assessment method should be to help students to learn and apply what they have learnt. However, most of the modern assessment methods in the k-12 level are aimed at helping students to graduate from high school and attain admission to reputable colleges (Andrade, Huff & Brooke, 2012). This approach has several fundamental weaknesses including its inability to cater to students with specific learning needs. A good assessment method should primarily test a students’ understanding of the fundamental principles and their ability to apply the learnt principles.

When teaching world history and culture, the aim of an assessment method is to test a student’s comprehension and understanding of the world’s cultural outlook. However, it is also important to test students’ understanding of other global cultures in relation to their own. For instance, a standard assessment should test the students’ understanding of world-cultures and their ability to reflect on how these cultures relate to their own. The current assessment methods are losing their relevance because they have lost their ability to ‘assess’ students’ performances. Modern teachers are increasingly teaching students how to ‘tackle exams’. Teaching a student how to take an exam negates several other aspects of the learning process.

Role of Students, Teachers, and Institutions

In my view, the process of developing a good curriculum should involve institutions, teachers, and students. Most k-12 institutions are bound together by regional organizations and standardized protocols. Institutions should work together to curb the rising undue influences on modern curriculums (Smith, 2010). For example, politicians are continuously exerting undue influences on educational systems. This undue influence ignores the role of institutions that are made up of scholars, educationists, and other stakeholders. On the other hand, politicians seek to implement popular opinions in the education system without considering scientific theories, research, and other modalities.

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The teachers act as bridges between the curriculums and students. The teachers have the important role of executing the curriculum that is often set by a conglomeration of education stakeholders. My perception is that a teacher is supposed to use the curriculum to effect individual students’ personal growth. In additional, the general contributions of a teacher should have a definite positive impact on the society.

Students should embrace learning as a wholesome experience as opposed to it being a ‘goal’. Embracing social studies will enable the students to experience the world in a new dimension. Furthermore, the students will benefit from my progressivism because they will be able to learn from diverse approaches. Students are also at liberty to compare my curriculums with those of other teachers and provide me with valuable feedback.

Conclusion

My curriculum philosophy seeks to balance the various aspects of knowledge acquisition with the student being the central figure in this process. Furthermore, I believe that a good education should instill new knowledge upon the students and stir their pre-existing knowledge. Classrooms should be places where instructional methods are modeled for the benefit of students. I also believe that curriculums should be collaborative efforts that relate to the various knowledge acquisition modalities.

References

Andrade, H., Huff, K., & Brooke, G. (2012). Assessing learning. Education Digest, 78(3), 46-53.

Bailey, R. (2014). The philosophy of education: An introduction. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Baurain, B. (2011). Common ground with a common faith. Education and Culture, 27(2), 74-91.

Fisher, R. (2013). Teaching thinking: Philosophical enquiry in the classroom. New York, NY: A&C Black.

Mayer, M., Aquinas, T., & Fitzpatrick, E. (2010). The philosophy of teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company.

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2012). Understanding by design framework. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 27(1), 70-81.

Polson, M. C., & Richardson, J. J. (2013). Foundations of intelligent tutoring systems. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Smith, M. K. (2010). Beyond the curriculum: Fostering associational life in schools. Counterpoints, 7(2), 9-33.

Tyler, R. W. (2013). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago press.

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