Curriculum Trends Term Paper

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Educational Trends a. What curricular changes will we see in the next 10 years and why?

I think there's no doubt that education, including curriculum content will change over the next ten years. Education is an ever-changing enterprise. I can't be certain, of course, what changes will make. I don't think that ten years ago I would have predicted the profound effects standardized testing would have on education (Moses, 2001). After all they had been used for decades. They're still being used, but they're being used differently, and I think that will have a huge effect on education, including curriculum. The other thing that I Think will continue to impact education, including curriculum, is the continued growth and development of computer technology (Lindquist, 2004).

Both of these issues -- standardized testing and technology -- are affected by the explosion of knowledge around us. When I was in high school, our American History class really only covered American history through World War II. The teacher crammed in as much as she could of the last half of the 20th century but things like the Viet Nam War, which I think was really important, was only very superficially covered.

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It was a trade-off. She was teaching us what primary sources are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to find them, especially on the Internet. I think she -- or the district, or whoever controlled the content, made the right call in retrospect, because understanding the basics of historical research affected how well I understood anything I read regarding history. It helped me in college.

It is a tricky business trying to guess what experiences will motivate an individual to intellectual achievement or what skills or bits of knowledge will wind up being important in a person's life (Posner, 2002).

Term Paper on Curriculum Trends Assignment

I think there's going to be a quiet battle over the next ten years. The influence of computers with its access to vast knowledge online will tend to broaden curriculum, forcing decision-makers to choose what to teach and what to leave out, just as my high school teacher had to. However, group achievement tests have gained such prominence that teachers feel they have to make sure they cover the information and skills on those tests, and I think, will become more and more reluctant to include information and skills not on those tests, even if the information is tremendously valuable.

b. What will be the content of curriculum in the 10 years?

Posner (2002) describes a "Far Side" cartoon where a boy's parents are thrilled to see their son spending huge amounts of time playing Nintendo, imagining his future career as a "Nintendo master." This sort of cartoon probably makes parents want to take Gameboys and similar devices and drop them in the nearest river, but Posner suggests that some of the things we teach may have less use. He cites engineering students at MIT who got interested in their fields when they began wondering just exactly how their electronic games, and the equipment used to run them, really worked. Those same students challenged themselves to do a problem in long division -- not because they needed it but because they didn't: they spent a lot of time learning long division in grade school and that was the only place they ever used it (Posner, 2002).

This suggests, though, that the only benefit from learning complex operations is to get the answer. One wonders how well those students would have handled higher math if they hadn't learned the logic and many steps to things such as long division. The author also makes the point that with computers, spelling checkers make learning spelling rules obsolete (or do they?) and handwriting isn't as important as it used to be.

c. What and who will influence content?

Lindquist (2004) cites statistics saying that 80% of all public schools are now connected to broadband service. I think that within ten years, that number will approach 100%. Even poorer school districts will write grants or make other special arrangements. I look at how I use the Internet and even how my parents and other older relatives use it, and I realize that most people have become accustomed to having a lot of information instantly available at their fingertips. I do not see this as a bad thing by itself, but I think schools will have to be proactive regarding how they teach the use of all this information, because anyone can say anything on the Internet. Outlandish lies can be told with great credibility.

I think bringing such resources into a classroom is inherently broadening. It encourages in-depth focus on one topic rather than a smattering of lots of things. Studying something in-depth can help students develop the ability to evaluate what they are reading and develop higher reasoning skills. But as the same time, we currently have the burden of supporting scores on group achievement tests. If in, say, a history class, one group of students does a three-week intensive study of the Korean Conflict while another group studies the Viet Nam War, their presentations to the class could culminate in some very good work comparing and contrasting the two events. But the odds are great that the all-important achievement test at the end of the year would have no real way to measure what they learned about critical thinking, and that it would include questions about things they did not study while they were pursuing their special projects.

I think the next ten years will involve a lot of "tug of war" between the tremendous amount of information available for instruction and the restrictive effects of achievement tests. I don't think that will be completely sorted out in the next ten years because politicians and many parents currently give tremendous emphasis to achievement tests.

d. Who will be involved in its development in the next 10 years?

I think text book publishers know the tremendous impact achievement tests are currently having, and will conform their content to textbooks. This means that achievement tests will become a dominant force in curriculum. While school districts will surely always have curriculum committees that look carefully at what is being taught, they will have to take achievement tests into account. Critics of the current emphasis on achievement tests point out that they are just one measure, and not always a particularly good one (Moses, 2001), but politicians seem to give them great importance. I think it will be a while before the pendulum swings back in the other direction again.

In addition, parental opinion will always count. Posner (2002) can argue all he wants that long division is an irrelevant skill in the 20th century, but few parents or politicians would agree with him. Curriculum has a strong cultural component to it, and parents are unlikely to agree that spelling need no longer be studied or that teaching long division is an archaic educational practice. In addition, even if the underlying concepts that support the algorithm we call "long division" aren't important -- long division will most likely be on group achievement tests.

Schools have never been able to establish curriculum within a vacuum. Some of the influences on curriculum choices may be more obvious now because of the impact of group achievement tests, but curriculum has always been a balance between various forces. What educators think should be taught is only part of the equation.

e. What part will I play in curriculum development in the next 10 years?

One thing that frustrates me as an educator is that teachers do have lessened influence over curriculum in the current "testing is most important" climate. Teachers are afraid to divert classroom discussion, even when presented with a prime "teachable moment," because of the pressure to cover as much of the curriculum as possible and to make sure as many students as possible pass those achievement tests. While achievement tests are attempting to be more responsive to the criticism that they rely on rote memory, for instance requiring short answer written answers and performance of hands-on simple experiments in science, they still are inherently restrictive on the curriculum. If teachers know that the properties of acid and base solutions will be on the end-of-year achievement test but that astronomy will not be, what happens if there is a solar or lunar eclipse during the year? There might be only one of those events in those students' geographical area while they're in school, creating a prime opportunity to teach basic astronomy in very practical ways, but if it won't be on the test, there may well be no time given to making models, or experimenting with flashlights in a darkened room to see exactly how an eclipse occurs, no search in the library or online to see when and where else they have happened. This is the kind of thing Moses (2001) is talking about when she argues that excessive emphasis on standardized testing "dumbs down" the curriculum. Twenty years… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Curriculum Trends.  (2005, July 30).  Retrieved January 23, 2021, from

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"Curriculum Trends."  July 30, 2005.  Accessed January 23, 2021.