Curriculum Theories and Practices Literature Review

Pages: 3 (1174 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching

Curriculum Development

Traditional vs. new curriculums: A literature review

According to a 2002 article from the peer-reviewed online journal Current Issues in Comparative Education, one recent trend in elementary education has been that of emphasizing the economic benefits of changes in the traditional curriculum. Educational innovations that are said to give students "a competitive edge" in getting into the best schools and/or to restore American competitiveness abroad, particularly in regard to specialized, technical work, have much greater appeal than those reforms which merely purport to advance the pursuit of knowledge (Scoppio, 2002, p.130). However, the general direction of curriculum reform is at a crossroads. On the one hand, some reforms have been centralizing, such as the emphasis on state testing, standardizing the curriculum to meet state standards, creating evidence-based measurements of school effectiveness, and the new emphasis on teacher accountability. On the other hand, some reforms have been decentralizing, such as the proposal for school choice 'vouchers' for students attending private schools, charter schools, and the creation of public magnet schools that students may test into or choose (Scoppio, 2002, p.130).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Literature Review on Curriculum Theories and Practices Assignment

According to Grazia Scoppio, the current curriculum reform movements disadvantage students with economic difficulties. The greater diversity of the school population has made it more and more difficult for disenfranchised students to reach standardized benchmarks of excellence. If there is a large ESL population, standardized curriculums can be unduly restrictive. ESL and historically disadvantaged economic and ethnic groups tend to do more poorly on standardized tests, which results in a reduction of funding for the school in question: ultimately, the students who will gain from new reforms appear to be high-achieving students and also the students with middle-class parents who can choose the 'right' school after educated research in the options available to them (Scoppio, 2002, p.130).

Curriculum reform that applies market-based standards to education often intensifies, rather than alleviates institutional discrimination, or "the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin" according to Mechtild Gomolla in her 20006 article on "Tackling underachievement of learners from ethnic minorities." Gomolla profiles several strategies for dealing with diversity in England, Switzerland, and Germany, all of which include giving additional funding for schools with high levels of ethnic minorities, to support a specialized curriculum for second-language learners. Germany's emphasis on tracking, designed to give immigrant students extra attention was deemed to be more marginalizing than supportive, given that many schools also had specialized programs for high achievers, thus creating a class of 'second class' citizens of second language learners. Switzerland's emphasis on learning skills rather than meeting predetermined performance standards was deemed superior, even though Switzerland has a highly centralized school system (Gomolla, 2006, p. 54).

A commitment to diversity requires a complete attitudinal shift, according to Gail Masuchika Boldt, that affects all aspects of the curriculum, not simply its academic aspects (Boldt 2001, p.56). It is essential that stereotyped norms of ethnicity and gender are challenged in reading material and the approaches of the teacher. In her article "Toward a reconceptualization of gender and power in an elementary classroom" Boldt says she was troubled by the stereotyped assumptions of many of her students, including the idea, expressed by both genders, that boys were better in math, science, and sports. Engaging in debate and mindfully challenging these notions, she believes, is essential to overcoming the 'hidden curriculum' which can thwart student achievement if they believe that students like themselves are not supposed to achieve.

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