Curriculum Trends in the Next Term Paper

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The null curriculum, then, is primarily comprised of knowledge that is valued by marginalized groups that may be routinely omitted from the curriculum as an institutionalized practice. "The null curriculum helps to maintain and perpetuate the existing societal structure" (Hollins, 1996, p. 2). Nevertheless, studies have consistently shown that some curricular variables can be actively modified to successfully reduce problem behavior and increase desirable behavior in the classroom and one curriculum variable that has been examined in a number of studies to date is student preference (Childs, Clark, Delaney, Dunlap & Kern, 2001). To this end, a functional assessment can be used to help identify student preferences for specific types of academic activities or tasks. "When these preferred activities or features of activities are incorporated into a student's curriculum, reductions in problem behavior and improvements in desirable behavior have been observed" (Childs et al., 2001, p. 240).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Another of the more interesting trends to emerge during the last years of the 20th century that can be reasonably expected to expand over the next decade is that schools are increasingly administering assessment tools as students enter the curriculum, with the goal of providing students a "snapshot" of their academic strengths and weaknesses. "The results/feedback are then used to help students develop individualized learning plans, which include selection of courses, internships, and extra-/co-curricular activities that will help them develop skills they need" (Ryan, 1999, p. 92). Students who want to learn will appreciate feedback concerning how they are doing in their schoolwork, even if they are doing poorly, because it will help them get on the right track to success -- and technology is helping with this aspect of fine-tuning curricula: "Those times are changing, and fast. Many of the products on the market, or already in the schools, include the ability to process data from students' results. Think of the power of realizing that a group of sixth-graders are scoring poorly on a particular English question and tracing the inadequacy back to an off-target, second grade curriculum that didn't teach long vowel sounds" (D'Orio, 2001, p. 7). The power of the timeliness of this type of assessment to help motivate students is undeniable. "It is inevitable that after the rush of districts upgrading their technology, the leaders in those districts will see the additional benefits available in using that technology to study students' results" (D'Orio, 2001, p. 8).


Who will be involved in its development and design? The materials that comprise a curriculum play a major role in what is taught, and most do not address the wide range of needs that students typically bring to the general education classroom. "Traditionally, schools have responded by pitching curriculum to the midrange of ability and pulling students with disabilities into special classrooms or special groups where there are specially designed materials that are rarely congruent with the general education curriculum" (Pugach & Warger, 2001, p. 195). Furthermore, under the requirements of the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments, educators must reexamine traditional approaches and make them fit within the context of accessing the general education curriculum. As a result, recent trends, particularly following the passage of the 1997 (IDEA) Amendments, showed that constraints to existing curricula were being addressed by adopting a "hit-or-miss approach" that simply modified existing materials, placing teachers in the position of trying to fine-tune a limited curriculum at the same time that they are trying to teach, frequently not making modifications until a student had already began to fail (Pugach & Warger, 2001).

According to Gross (1997), in the future, joint curriculum design holds the potential to expand curriculum planning and implementation. "Teachers who create a climate conducive to collaboration with students discover renewed interest in working more directly and reciprocally with others to increase effective learning. Joint curriculum design embraces these issues and offers powerful solutions through collaboration between students and teachers" (p. 152). In the future, students will have an increased voice, and will be allocated a sufficient amount of resources and responsibility for learning that they want to learn. The excitement of learning that results when this level of curriculum development and design is accomplished will be self-perpetuating. "Integral learning and familiarity with more strategies for learning lead to testing the potential for future applications" (Gross, 1997). Future strategies for joint curriculum development will help transfer accountability for learning squarely back where it has long belonged: with the student -- and his or her parents.

Gross agrees with this assessment and points out that, "Education is not done to anyone -- as learners, students, and teachers choose goals, methods, and content. They interact with resources and network with others to investigate topics and derive understandings. They devise plans, implement ideas, and assess progress" (emphasis added) (Gross, 1997, p. 154). However, this approach is not without its costs or its drawbacks, but this author at least believes the time and resources invested in developing such an approach will be well worth the trouble because the comprehensiveness and thoroughness behind joint curriculum design facilitates active participation and mutual ownership. "It empowers the student. No longer passively facing a teacher who stands in the front of the room, students actively participate in studying course content and interact with one another to discover ideas, link concepts, pose and solve problems (Gross, 1997, p. 155). With all of this refocusing of accountability on to the students themselves, the impact for teachers in the next 10 years will also be profound.


What part will you play in curriculum development in the next 10 years? The next 10 years will be the most exciting part of my career as the foregoing changes, as well as many unforeseen (and unforeseeable) changes come to pass in education. The recent shifts in learning from traditional lecture-based curricula to those with more challenging components, as well as those that carry with them more accountability for both educators and students alike such as portfolio-based learning applications where there is an extra amount of work involved for everyone, but the rewards tend to justify it. Concerning accountability, the next 10 years represent both opportunities and threats to curriculum development from a personal perspective since I intend to actively engage as many parents into the learning process as possible. However, I also perceive a growing threat from technological innovations as they influence curriculum development in terms of how students will become increasingly isolated from their peers, teachers and others as communications become online instead of in person.


How will these changes impact you personally? People are just people, and virtually no one likes to see changes made in comfortable routines and patterns that make life a little easier. However, in the spirit of "adapt or die," teachers must not only accede to the inexorable forces shaping curriculum development today, they must lead the way. In this regard, I intend to actively pursue innovative techniques that incorporate the best of what is available to make the learning experience more challenges and rewarded for students. In the process, I expect to be challenged and rewarded as well. Part of this reward will come from seeing the changes that are now beginning to take place in the American school system brought to fruition; part of the challenges associated with these changes will be an increase in accessibility to teachers, if they want it, since telecommunications can provide a wide range of online forums in which threaded discussions can take place.


The research showed that undoubtedly, access to the general education curriculum will continue to represent a major issue for educators over the next 10 years; however, although law has clearly been the driving force for trends in curriculum design, the need for educators to get serious about what is important for students to learn and be able to do is long overdue. Recent technological advances in the computer industry have also had an enormous influence on the school curriculum. Increasing numbers of high schools and elementary schools in the United States have the latest computer hardware and software and today, computer programs shape academic study in many areas including language arts, science, and social studies. Students are also using computers for collecting and organizing their research for a variety of other academic applications, for communicating with other students at different locations, and for general word processing. Future planning for curriculum design must therefore ensure that the school curriculum adequately prepares young people for the information age in which computers will no longer be a luxury, but rather an indispensable tool.


Childs, K., Clarke, S., Delaney, B., Dunlap, G. & Kern, L. (2001). Improving the Classroom

Behavior of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Using Individualized

Curricular Modifications. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 9(4), 239.

Cuban, L. (1993). The Lure of Curricular Reform and Its Pitiful History. Phi Delta Kappan,

75(2), 182.


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