How the death of curriculum could mean the rebirth of learning

Brian Alger [dead link] has an excellent article on the key role that curriculum plays in the development of education. Anyone involved in learning, whether as a designer, teacher, faciliator or administrator, should read this article which describes in clear terms that education is not learning and that curriculum is a constraining force that must be understood if we wish to foster learning. I found the link between curriculum and bullying especially enlightening, as my wife has been studying, writing, and presenting on bullying in schools for the past several years:

One of the effects of curriculum design of any kind is confinement. And the confinement of human experience is an act of violence. A common example of this confinement via curriculum leading to violence is bullying.

On the question of, “Do we need curriculum?”, these additional questions show its mind-numbing effects:

When we ask the question we are also asking if we need the concept of the prerequisite, imposed forms of content, sterile classrooms as a primary location, fragmented schedules of time, as well as impersonal and ineffective forms of testing and evaluation.

Curriculum development is an enormous industry in our public education systems, and moving away from curriculum design and on to the greater task of fostering learning will be a huge, but worthwhile task.

Challenging the validity of curriculum in any form means to challenge people’s jobs whether they are political officials, school administrators, consultants, teachers, students or parents. Part of the immense control and authority that curriculum has is that it provides careers and therefore sources of income. This, in my own experience, is where I have found the most significant roadblock to change and innovation.

4 Responses to “How the death of curriculum could mean the rebirth of learning”

  1. Al Rowe

    Curriculum and its reductionist design practices are an illusion of excellence defaulting to another illusion–control of student learning.

  2. Trace Pickering

    Like the iconoclast Russell Ackoff once said, “A curriculum is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” Real learning happens authentically in community.


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