This semester, I explored what curriculum is and what it means to me personally as both a student and an educator. To sum up what I gained from this semester, I have written a letter to myself that I will read when I am a first year teacher, tackling the big scary written curriculum on my own for the first time. I don’t want to forget all that I have learned and felt from this semester.
Dear First Year Aleesha,
You first defined curriculum, stating, “The curriculum is the academic goal set by the government that is aimed to be reached by all students” and “Curriculum to me is the base and foundation of what I teach my students”. Through the semester you realized how much more there is to curriculum than just the written. Don’t get overwhelmed and fall into that thinking again. As we read from Daniel Schuguren’s article “The Eight Curricula of Multicultural Citizenship Education”, there is, of course, the written curriculum, but also:
- The Taught Curriculum: the curriculum that you actually present to your student
- The Tested Curriculum: the curriculum you think is so essential that that is what you test your students on
- The Reported Curriculum: what the students actually recall you teaching them
- The Hidden Curriculum: what you teach without realizing it
- The Missing Curriculum: what you omit from your course, purposefully or not
- The External Curriculum: what students are learning outside of your classroom
- And The Learned Curriculum: at the end of the year/ term, what your students would say they learned from you altogether.
After learning about these and talking with classmates, it became apparent that curriculum is everywhere and constantly being pursued. Remember when you were in ECS 300 and, during your ELA lesson on an Anne Frank excerpt, a student asked you questions concerning WWII? Your written curriculum encouraged you to discuss how to figure out words using context alone, but the missing curriculum encouraged students to ask questions related to the topic but with a very different focus. As much as we may place every subject in its own nice, neat area, they will always interconnect and expand off each other. You saw this again when you taught the unit plan with the other Secondary Students in your staff group for ECS 210. Health, History, Math, English, and Art, we were all connected. Engage with the opportunities to touch on other subjects, for this is still a learning moment where the student is making connections! Curriculum is not about English, Science, Social, etc, but about learning what each has to offer and bringing them together to mean something personal.
In addition to the types of curriculum, you also learned different ways to approach teaching it. Specifically, you studied and researched different theorists including Dwayne Huebnar, Paulo Freire, and Maxine Greene:
In the closing paragraph on your paper about them, you made a commitment. Lest you have forgotten, here it is:
“I am making the commitment to use the curriculum to not only encourage imagination though art and deep conversation between my students but also to respect and value their differences within those conversations”
Huebnar urged people to always grow, always learn, and always seek for a better tomorrow. Greene supported the power of discussion and imagination. Freire encouraged discussions with all kinds of different people and to love and have faith in your students. Recall the quotes from Freire you felt really spoke to you:
Besides the theorists, recall others’ stories you heard and read. You heard from Dr. Shauneen Pete and Claire Kreuger,
and considered the stories that were told through “The Witness Blanket” project at the university.
Through these three and their stories, you found the importance of incorporating and being sensitive about Treaty Education and studying the First Nations’ culture. At first it was uncomfortable to talk about how uneducated you really are around their culture and how insensitive you are. It’s still embarrassing to recognize that, rather than trying to engage in a conversation around their culture, you shy away in fear of offending anyone or saying the wrong things. Remember what you learned from Clair, though. She taught you to make those mistakes. The fact that you’re curious and learning is admirable and commendable. So take your curriculum, and be purposeful in incorporating Treaty Education into it. Be bold and willing to make mistakes. What a role model you will be for your students!!
Furthermore, you read many stories from The New Teacher Book:
In an assignment, you explored “Framing the Family Tree” by Sudie Hofman. Her story is important for you to remember because she taught you that you need to teach without assumptions. In your write up about your art piece which reflected what you learned from Hofman, you said, “I want to be a teacher who assumes nothing about a child as they walk into my classroom… We NEVER know what is going on in their family units. I want to create a classroom/ environment where my students can come in with these different backgrounds and feel welcomed.” Be deliberate in making the taught curriculum sensitive to all of your children.
Aleesha, right after you completed ECS 210 you felt very confident in your new, personal definition of curriculum. Do not forget it.
- Curriculum is available everywhere, not just the school.
- Curriculum is everything that is taught, be in purposefully or not.
- Curriculum is for everyone, though we need to be careful to teach it appropriately with all of our students in mind, considering their culture, their ethnicity, their abilities, and their backgrounds.
- Curriculum is a part of all of our stories. Learn from others and how they have grown with the curriculum and constantly reflect on how you yourself are growing with curriculum. And indeed it is an ongoing journey. Do not stop.
This is your first year teaching so you’re doing A LOT of learning. Do not be intimidated by the big curriculum binder. Remember what curriculum is all about and tackle that binder with everything in mind. And Aleesha? Have fun as you come up with games and activities for your kids. If you have fun, they’ll have fun. Cheers.