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1 Curriculum Platform Philosophy Adam Schwaninger Doane University
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 2 The Aims of Education In recent years the aims of education have shifted in schools due to
government regulations. More and more teachers are finding themselves “aiming” to have high test scores so their students will be considered “proficient” and continue to receive government funding. Those distant from the frontlines of education see this as a perfect way to ensure that no child is “left behind.” Students MUST meet testing levels of proficiency or they don’t receive money. Perfect! But how many students are being left behind when teachers are forced to flutter through curriculum and teach to tests to ensure scores are high enough? Is a teacher’s main goal to have a class full of proficient test takers? I would argue that this is steering education in the wrong direction. I believe
the main goal of education is to educate students. Groundbreaking notion, I know. But what are we teaching students, as teachers, when we tell them that the most important thing in school is to do well on a test? There are much more important things than exams percentages and numbers. I’m not saying that testing holds no value, and we shouldn’t use the data to help shape our decisions about instruction, but I feel that there is too much emphasis on test scores and not enough stress on reaching our students on a personal level and making a connection that will help them not only succeed in academics but life after education. My main goal for educating my students is not that they will memorize facts and be able to recite them on a test, but rather to immerse them in a culture of inclusive interactions and relationships, which foster the exploration of art in our world. Teaching art gives me the unique advantage of developing my own curriculum and evading state testing.
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 3 To help students “explore” art I have developed a curriculum that gives my students several personal choices in developing and creating their projects. Rather than give students implicit instructions on completing an assignment, I will give them a multitude of resources and possibilities on how one could complete the project and examples of work from past students. In my resources I give students artists from various backgrounds to investigate, and ask them how they can take aspects from famous artwork and incorporate these findings into their own creations. Allowing students to help develop their own projects promotes self motivated
research and more personal investment in the artwork. Working in small groups to attain this information helps students problem solve in a diverse atmosphere advocating social development that will benefit them beyond the years of education. The nature of the Learner and Learning Howard Gardner has identified seven distinct intelligences. This theory emerges from cognitive research which, "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways." (Claken, 2010, p. 1) I believe that Gardner’s multiple intelligences directly relate to differentiated learning styles among students. It is important for educators to vary instruction to meet the needs of the multiple learning styles of students. Akkoyuly states, “It is important for the effectiveness of teaching environments to take account of group or individual learners’ characteristics, competence and experiences (pre-‐learning) throughout the process of planning learning environments.” (2009, p. 43)
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 4 Simply varying instruction is not enough. One must constantly be conducting formative assessments and checking for understanding to ensure comprehension from students. Formative assessments can be quick and simple, I often just ask for a raise of hands of those who are ready to move on to the next subject. It is crucial, as well, to have individual conversations with students about their learning, and what they are taking with them from your instruction. I find that work time for students is an excellent opportunity for me to circulate the room and get feedback from students on how effective my teaching was, and if I was successful in accommodating their learning styles. Essence of Teaching With learning styles in mind I think that students must revisit taught items
amongst their peers, and do some verification and re-‐teaching within their peer group. Breaking into small groups to allows students to hear information in their own language reiterated or paraphrased in a form that might make more sense to them. This is also a great opportunity for those students who have anxiety about speaking in front of a group to express their opinions. This is also an excellent time for me to check in with each group and perform a quick summative assessment on the learning and my teaching. When teaching it is imperative to be consistent in discipline and practices, but
also to be accommodating to meet the needs of students of all achievement levels, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I feel it is my job to find what these students need to be successful and then make it a point to provide them with the
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 5 support and accommodations necessary. I believe that for a classroom to be an effective, productive, diverse society that I must model that behavior first and foremost. Dewey states, “I believe that school is a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.” (1987, p. 24) I agree with Dewey that although students are in school to learn, the acquisition of social skills and development of promoting a equitable diverse environment is a key facet of education. The Purpose of the Curriculum As an art teacher in the Lincoln Public School system my curriculum is based
on a framework of 7 core abilities: Think creatively with art, connect with art (historical/cultural), express through art, know the language of art, create art, live with art, and talk about art. This curriculum is based off of national standards and does a wonderful job of ensuring that students will receive a an art education that not only teaches art making techniques and skills, but explores art throughout history, across cultures, and in our own community. I am very appreciative of a framework-‐based curriculum because it gives the teacher a lot of freedom in creating lessons and projects that fit their personal interests and well as students interests, desires, and needs. I often ask my class what they would like to learn about, or take a vote on what project we will be doing next. I find that the social aspects and moral issues that happen in the classroom are often brought up by students and can be very
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 6 teachable moments if I just stop and take a moment to address the situation and have a conversation with my students. I like the fact that art education looks very different in every school but is still focusing on the same core abilities. The Image of the Teacher I look at my profession; I believe there are many things that embody a
successful teacher. I am not just an expert of my subject area presenting information to students. I find myself in situations where I become a counselor, a peer mediator, disciplinarian, and an advocate for social justice. Teachers must have knowledge of their content area, but more importantly they must have knowledge of their student body, how they function as individuals and as a group. A teacher must be able to read between the lines and understand how a students mind works. A teacher must be resilient and be able to take abuse calmly and forgive multiple times. A teacher must act in the students best interests at all times. All of the things that I have listed are easier said than done. It is easy to loose track of my purpose in the school, and my role in my student’s lives. When I make a conscious effort to promote the success of all of my students, I can tell that they appreciate my dedication. I feel that it is important, sometimes, to diverge from the subject matter and talk about social and moral issues that are visible in the classroom. This lets students see your human side, rather than only your professional side. I feel that if I establish a healthy relationship of give and take with my students they will work with me through the instruction pieces and put forth more effort in my class.
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 7 The Preferred School I believe an effective school is one where all students feel welcome. An
effective school holds high expectations not only of academic success, but of student behavior and interactions. A school must address issues of sexism, racism, prejudice, and discrimination at the beginning of each year, setting the standard amoung the student body and letting expectations be known. Teachers have a responsibility to consistently uphold these standards and expectations, and be positive behavior models for students. These issues must be revisited regularly in the classroom and as a large group for them to become the norm for the behavior in school. Students need to be involved in demonstrating and promoting the behaviors and expectations. When teachers see students being positive behavior models they should be acknowledged and praised. We use a system of excellence referrals, and “SOAR” cards to recognize excellent behavior at Schoo. A student carries a “SOAR card” with them and a teacher punches or signs the card when they notice outstanding social behavior from a student. The student can then turn in a fully punched card for a small reward and be entered in for a drawing for a large reward done periodically throughout the year. The school must have communication with parents and the community.
Parents need to know the expectations of their children so they can model and teach the behavior at home, reinforcing the principles enforced at school. The parents and community should also be aware of the progress and successes of the school and it’s individuals. This can be done through the newsletter and school/teacher website(s).
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 8 Parents should also be allowed a voice in the discussing the expectations and social responsibilities of their students. All of these components working together can create an effective school.
Working at Schoo, a school in its first year, I have seen some of these things happen. I think through reflection and planning we will be more successful in clearly stating our expectations for social behavior and communicating these expectations to the community. It is my hope that we will continue to build relationships with our students and their families to help Schoo become a respected, equitable diverse society.
Curriculum Platform Philosophy 9 References Akkoyuly, B. & Yilmaz-‐Soylu, M. (2009). The Effect of Learning Styles on Achievement in Different Learning Environments. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 8(4), 43-‐50 Claken, R.(2010). Considering Moral Intelligence as Part of a Holistic Education. Online Submission in Annual Meeting of the Educational Research Association, Denver Dewey, J. (1897). My Pedagogic Creed. In E. F. Provenzo (Ed.), Critical Issues in Education (pp.22-‐30). Thousand Oaks: Stage Publications Inc. Smith, M. K. (2004) Nel Noddings, the ethics of care and education', the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/noddings.htm.
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