This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Roxanne Waithe November 3rd 2008
Lecturer: Professor Winston King
At the heart of all the activities that go on in the educational arena there are some basic assumptions about the nature of learners and teachers, the purpose of schools, about what kind of knowledge is important, what kind of world we live in and about what kind of world we want to live in. This text considers the underlying philosophies that influence day to day activities in schools in Barbados and how they affect curriculum innovation. The discussion will be based on both empirical and anecdotal evidence as a means of defining the ‘Barbadian Curriculum and its Philosophy of Education’. However, a fundamental question must first be addressed: What is curriculum? Although reference has so far been made to activities in schools, Pratt (1980) explains that a curriculum itself is not activities but plans or a blueprint for activities. Other educational theorists and practitioners use the term curriculum in different ways but the Barbados Ministry of Education (2000) defines curriculum as: “An organized statement of goals and intended learning outcomes that serves as a framework for teaching and learning. It represents an attempt to meet the perceived needs and interests of all students, in a manner consistent with the philosophy, objectives, and expectations of our society.” The immediate observation is that the Barbados curriculum is presented as a well-ordered account of how people will acquire the knowledge they need in order to work and live here. It is expressed as a statement or declaration, as opposed to a plan. The key document, from which this extract is taken, Curriculum 2000 Barbados, also emphatically states that ‘the curriculum must not be
Paradoxically. It provides educators with a framework for organizing schools and classrooms and answers crucial questions such as: What are the goals of education? Which subjects are most valuable in our schools? What teaching methods should we use? How should students be assessed and how will the results be used? (Ornstein. reconstructionism. perennialism. 2002. But does the conceptual definition of curriculum as stated by the Barbados Ministry of Education reflect practice in our schools? Which philosophy of education guides the national curriculum? Philosophy of Education in Barbados: Theory vs. Dewey (1916) posited that philosophy may be defined as the general theory of education. it is important to explain the term ‘philosophy of education’. Educators consistently debate five philosophical positions in education including essentialism. progressivism. 2003). 2000) Different approaches to answering these fundamental questions have produced several schools of thought in the philosophy of education.restricted to subject content’. the Curriculum 2000 Barbados document declares that a constructivist philosophy will be infused into the curriculum reform process. Practice For clarity. and existentialism (Ornstein. Armstrong. 3 . The inference is that the curriculum is not to be equated with a syllabus to be transmitted to uninformed students. Another facet to this definition of curriculum is the implication that the curriculum is tied to a core philosophy.
Moreover. by reflecting on our experiences. constructivists support the elimination of grades and standardized testing. It promotes curricula customized to the students' prior knowledge and emphasizes hands-on problem solving. constructivists rate authentic activity as an important part of the learning process. teachers encourage students to analyze. collaborative. According to Lebow (1993) authentic activity constitute experiences that permit learners to practice skills in environments similar to those in which the skills will be used. Do these principles reflect the Barbadian experience? The revised curriculum as posited by the Curriculum 2000 program (p12) speaks to the materialization of active learners schooled using the following strategies: - Continuous and multiple forms of assessment Authentic learning Development of critical thinking and reflective skills Learner-centered. The creation of knowledge from experience and the use of that knowledge to support new learning are the fundamental principles of a constructivist model. Assessment is part of the learning process. and predict information and as far as assessment is concerned. constructivism describes a learner-centered environment where education is an interactive and collaborative process (Brooks & Brooks. Theoretically. technology based activities 4 - . Brooks and Brooks (1993) also contend that constructivism calls for the elimination of a standardized curriculum. 1993). In terms of instructional techniques.Let us consider the implications of this assertion. Kamii and Lewis (1990) explain that constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that. interpret. we construct our own understanding of the world we live in.
there is no evidence that the revised curriculum has been infused into any of the public primary or secondary schools. The point is that the curriculum is still entirely exam driven. creativity and flexibility in the curriculum.- Flexible learning supported by community involvement To date. curriculum practice points to the contrary – the traditional curriculum. Further indication that the revised curriculum is not functional is that the Barbadian teachers are hard pressed to cover as much material in the prescribed syllabus as possible within the allocated semester or school term. The more adventurous or ambitious students go on to write the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). The University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus still uses exams and individual projects as the primary modes of assessment. At the tertiary level. the environment is not much different except for in vocational programs such as mechanical engineering. and then they are coached for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in their teens. and the chance for authentic learning experiences. The student in turn is expected to cram as much information into his or her brain during this period and then sit an exam at the end as evidence of learning. Students are still programmed to sit the indomitable eleven plus examination during their formative years. The repercussion is that quite often employers complain that the UWI graduates do not function effectively in the workplace as many lack critical thinking. This process precludes the whole concept of learner-centered activities. problem solving and social skills. As a matter of fact. agricultural studies or culinary arts where the learners must demonstrate competence in their occupational area. Schools are judged on the basis of how many of their students are awarded scholarships to universities and the percentage pass rate for CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) subjects. 5 .
(2000) examined how primary school teachers implemented constructivist education in second grade classrooms. the Barbados Curriculum claims to be constructivist but the reality so far suggests otherwise. Other examples of constructivism in practice at the secondary or high school level are the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) and the Kellogg Classroom of Tomorrow (KCOT) Programs that feature the use of technology in the classroom. long-term.So theoretically. and shared responsibility for behavior. A study conducted by Rainer et al. thematic. real conversations. purposeful talking. In light of the information presented. All children were expected to work at the same pace and children’s behavior was closely managed. intellectual engagement. To verify this postulation. secondary and tertiary) may not even 6 . the argument that the Barbados Curriculum is far from constructivist has some credence. The researchers concluded that the key constructs in a constructivist education are respectful relationships. Arguably. let us briefly examine examples of constructivist curriculum in practice. The research tracked the activities of three traditional teachers and three constructivist teachers over a sustained period of time. Classroom sessions were highly interactive and teachers used resources that held students’ interests such as engaging them in learning on the playground or while on a field trip. project-based learning and authentic assessment (Osberg 1997). By contrast the observation was that constructivist teachers placed more emphasis on teaching children as opposed to teaching skills. learning and the classroom environment. the average Barbadian teacher (primary. The findings were that in the traditional classrooms the teachers maintained ownership of the class through scheduling and transitions.
the constructivist classroom calls for teachers who have the autonomy and authority to select and enact the curriculum. performances and other representations of learning. the teacher has to transform the classroom from the traditional one into a constructivist culture that facilitates cooperative learning and meaningful student-teacher and student-student dialogue. understand and represent concepts in different ways depending on the learner’s ‘construction’ of core curricular topics. This means that the content. others through abstract mathematical equations and others through demonstration of the concept in a real life setting. constructivist instruction requires highly skilled teachers who can create learning situations for students that engage them in problem solving and inquiry tasks. reports. Teachers in this environment will need to be well-versed in multiple assessment methods: journals. the assessment must focus on the processes and outcomes.understand what is meant by the term constructivism. Windschitl (1997) contends that constructivism is actually a very complex philosophy and when used as a foundation for curriculum decisions. nor can it happen overnight. it will create some serious challenges for teachers in the classroom. instructional methods and assessment techniques will be driven by the teacher’s understanding of student needs. Some may learn for example through graphical or illustrative media. Since constructivist learning differs in nature from student to student. Add to that the notion that the teacher must be able to help them to explore. Secondly. The transformation from a quiet orderly classroom to this direction is not an easy task. Firstly. Thirdly. Windschitl (1997) suggests that while constructivism as a theory is appealing because it focuses on learner’s needs. in practice it has serious political 7 .
commenced in 1999 and had as its priorities: - Civil works – conducting renovations on old schools and building new ones Institutional strengthening – establishment of resource - centres for teachers and educational researchers - Procurement and installation of hardware and software – widespread introduction of technology into all primary and secondary schools - Teacher training and technical assistance. there was a need for change because there were general deficiencies among students in the areas of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. the Education Sector Enhancement Programme (commonly referred to as EduTech 2000). this philosophy appears to be the guiding principle for educational reform and curriculum innovation in the country. Barbadian schools do not presently adhere to constructivist principles. The resulting seven-year reform initiative. it was recognized that the educational system needed to be transformed to keep up with economic and technological changes. the Barbados curriculum was revised to introduce strategic innovations. Curriculum Innovation in Barbados: Priorities and Issues According to the Barbados White Paper on Educational Reform (1995). different characteristics: 8 Hall and Hord (2001) explain that curriculum innovation can be defined in terms of three . Within the context of the prescribed educational reform.implications especially where the educational authorities seek to control the curriculum through standardized teaching and testing. Additionally. However.
wide the The proposed curricular implications Education. new technology (computers). including Ministry learners. employers and parents. This feature considers whether the users of the curriculum will be required to change just one or two things that they are currently doing or whether the change involves a number of innovations which will mean that the users will have to alter many things from current practices. The most salient issue of course pertains to the introduction of a constructivist curriculum. it would appear that the Barbados Ministry of Education has set itself a gargantuan multifaceted stakeholders and task. for of innovations all are have ranging curriculum teachers.- Their emphasis on a new or revised product such as new textbooks. Based on the foregoing discussion about its 9 . or new assessment devices such as portfolios - Their focus on a new or revised process such as the use of a new instructional method Their size in terms of complexity and scope. - The Curriculum 2000 Barbados document stipulates four specific innovations that are intended to drive change in the education system: (1)The introduction of constructivism and a child-centred approach to teaching and learning (2)A shift to outcomes-based assessment instead of standardized testing (3)The integration of social and emotional learning content into the curriculum (4)The integration of information and communication technologies in classrooms Taking into account Hall and Hord’s (2001) description of curriculum innovation.
Additionally. While SEL as an innovation is a worthwhile venture for the Barbados educational arena. some crucial questions emerge such as. 702 were trained in Teaching Methodologies. the intention is to use continuous.104 Integration. A brief review of the literature revealed that the work of Goleman (1997) is used by educators as a basis for research and to devise strategies for integrating SEL concepts. To date.inherent complexity. Will these new assessments have the same currency as CXC passes in the job market? Suppose a learner earns no CXC passes but is able to present a comprehensive portfolio as evidence of learning. similar concerns arise. skills and values in the classroom and in school culture. a May 2007 Mastery and Technology press release from the Ministry of Education disclosed that a total of 1. the framework for its implementation in the curriculum needs to be more clearly defined. authentic and outcomes-based assessment. who will guide the process of change from the traditional to the constructivist approach? How will the users be prepared for its effective use? What is the anticipated role of teachers during this transition? What mechanisms will be used to inform other key stakeholders about the impending changes? Whose idea was it to introduce constructivism in the first place? With regard to the other innovations. the only real evidence that the Education Sector Enhancement Programme is in execution stage is because five secondary and ten primary schools were outfitted with computer hardware. 162 in Educational 10 . For example. teachers received training in Technology. will potential employees accept this as proof of qualification? The idea of integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) content into the curriculum was so vaguely addressed within the Curriculum 2000 document that there is serious doubt as to whether the creators gave full thought as to its application in the classroom.
we have clear indications that the traditional curriculum is still thriving in our schools. we can briefly explain each as follows: Perrenialism . Educational Ideology in Barbados: Juxtaposed Philosophies Ornstein (2002) presents an instructive overview of four educational philosophies: perennialsim. progressivism and reconstructionism. essentialism. The integration of information and communication technologies in classrooms had its own challenges including the difficulty involved in ensuring optimum use of equipment by teachers and students. the temporary re-housing of schools when extensive infrastructural work was required and there was some confusion as to the criteria for selection of the schools in the pilot phase.Leadership. given the fact that some fundamental changes have been made. Furthermore.Its educational premise is that ideas that have lasted over centuries are still relevant today. and 122 teachers participated in a course on Indigenous Software Development. However. The curriculum focus is on classical 11 . there is the need to consider which philosophy of education really guides day to day activities in Barbadian schools. Undoubtedly curriculum innovation in Barbados is fraught with problems. If we adapt his ideas to explore the basic tenets of each philosophy. Perhaps at the heart of these concerns is the question: What is the real underlying philosophy on which curriculum innovation is based? So far we have concluded that it is not constructivist.
12 .subjects and the study of profound and enduring ideas. one advocates social responsibility and the other addresses social reform. Reconstructionism . the progressivist thought speaks to the general purpose of education while the reconstructionist is concerned about how school can tackle contemporary societal issues. Progressivism . The introduction states that “education must seek to enable all young people to be knowledgeable and creative and to develop positive attitudes and requisite skills. The goal of education is to produce good citizens.” The subsequent chapter also points out that the curriculum reform process will be used to create socioeconomic and political changes needed for development.Teaching and learning is a process of inquiry to address social reform. The curriculum content is derived from student interests and questions and the goal is to promote social responsibility and democracy. research and international issues. While they are not mutually exclusive ideas. education is to produce intellects. Essentialism - The goal of The educational premise is that there is a core body of knowledge that must be mastered in order for a person to be considered "educated. “ The curriculum focuses on the basics. Now consider the educational principles as espoused within the Curriculum 2000 Barbados document. the ‘Three Rs’ and those that are considered to be essential subjects. The goal is to create a better society and new social order. The curriculum is geared towards social sciences.The educational premise is that learning is rooted in the questions of learners. These two doctrines have roots in progressivist and reconstructionist philosophy.
” Based on the foregoing observations. and philosophy as critical inquiry. social studies.Additionally. health and family life education. It appears therefore that the philosophy of education in Barbados is really juxtaposed between old and new ideas. The other dimension is the extent to which classroom instruction is in line with the curriculum policy ideals. 13 . Teaching practices in Barbados are divergent from the declared constructivist philosophy and they range on a continuum between “essentialist” and “reconstructivist. perhaps it is more useful to treat the principles which guide schooling in Barbados as educational ideology. Curriculum 2000 specifies eight learning areas which will constitute the foundation of a well-rounded education for Barbados youth. The ‘revised curriculum’ outlined in the reform rhetoric ranges from traditional to progressive underpinnings. science. physical education and technology will form the core curriculum. Passmore (1967) proposed three conceptions of philosophy: philosophy as wisdoms. The latter philosophies promote learner-centred schools where the curriculum is guided by students’ needs and interests. This application is undoubtedly an essentialist tactic and is in direct opposition to the progressivist and constructivist models of education. In addition to the three Rs. This argument is supported by O’Neill (1981) who uses the term educational ideologies to convey that the values associated with a belief system are not merely ‘wisdoms’ but rather a set of specific ideas which are intended to direct social action. philosophy as ideology. Following this intellectual. Clabaugh and Rozycki (1990) contend that philosophy as ideology is what we normally find in schools. an ideology serves programs of action and can be regarded as applied philosophy.
as time progresses. the sabre-tooth tigers die out and they are replaced by different types of animals that take their place in the food chain. this is what they teach their children. the pivotal question is: how do the educational ideologies identified influence daily curriculum practice in Barbados? The situation can best be explained through The Saber-Tooth Curriculum. However. The story tells of a group of people in prehistoric times that make their living by hunting sabre-tooth tigers.Since current curriculum practice in Barbados renders juxtaposed philosophies. The tribe hunts those animals instead. Peddiwell’s parable strikes at the heart of what is wrong with daily curriculum activities in Barbados. However. But how many schools in Barbados actually teach students things they are going to use later on in life? Where are the start your own business classes or grow what you eat 14 . Ideology and Daily Curriculum Conundrum Ultimately. and the Curriculum 2000 Barbados document provides prescriptions for reform. the children are still being taught how to hunt and kill sabretooth tigers. maybe Barbadian educational ideology is a more suitable framework for discussion. It has already been argued that the curriculum in Barbados is straddling twentieth century practices and twenty-first century ideals. Since this is their livelihood. Everybody needs to know how to hunt and kill sabretooth tigers to survive. Philosophy. in the schools. a satirical outlook of the American education system. The policy makers are aware that they need to prepare students for ‘the evolution of a new Caribbean person’ (Curriculum 2000). published by Peddiwell in 1939.
15 . CSEC. and those who may do well in trades (mechanics. creative. Curriculum 2000 Barbados proclaims that “Each one matters” and that every child should have educational opportunities which would allow him to make the most of his abilities. and culinary arts) but not in a classroom are all evaluated based on the same standard. carpentry. The result is that our schools produce hordes of people who are still ignorant and uneducated. critical thinking individuals that can help them to solve problems in the workplace. Nevertheless average children. or community development classes? The revised curriculum has been configured to prepare our young people for the “real world” yet practitioners in Barbadian classrooms are still teaching to the test: Common Entrance. gifted children. The Curriculum 2000 document reads more like a statement of intent rather than a concrete plan Indeed Rogan and Grayson (2003) observed that policymakers and politicians are focused on the ‘what’ of desired educational change and sorely neglect the ‘how’. but the options for those students that are not academics and do not belong in the traditional classroom are grievously few. and that are capable of hunting only sabre-tooth tigers. of action. farming. computers. Then at the end of it all employers find difficulty in acquiring efficient. Each one matters. special education children. CAPE and then onto UWI for a battery of exams at the end of each semester. Future Curriculum Practice: Some Recommendations for Barbados The implementation of the revised curriculum as presented by the Barbados Ministry of Education raises serious concerns.classes (food security is now a critical national issue).
Verspoor (1989) recommends that a phased approach taking into account the diversity of schools is needed to implement large-scale change. an insistence on school accountability. His research findings were that the most successful cases of curriculum implementation occurred when a firm national commitment to change goals was combined with an acceptance of substantial diversity at the school level.The Barbados Curriculum 2000 document provides no clear prescriptions for how the ministry is going to achieve what they propose to achieve. As a first order of business. The framework has three main constructs: • mechanisms will be put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the new A Profile of Implementation . the ‘Revised Curriculum’ needs to be reviewed because it was developed eight years ago and must be revised to equip our youth to hunt at least elephant birds if not sabre-tooth tigers. and an effective mix of dissemination strategies. 16 . a framework for curriculum implementation as conceived by Rogan and Grayson (2003) was especially designed for developing nations and may have some applications to the Barbadian education system. Secondly. Finally. Where is the section that deals with the process of reform? For example who is What responsible for implementing different aspects of the program? How will the revised curriculum be presented and executed in the schools? measures at each stage of the process? The revised curriculum in Barbados is still very much an unsolved mystery waiting to be unravelled. practical work and assessment practices.which takes into account the nature of classroom interaction. There is some urgent work that needs to be carried out to address the issues of due process. responsibility and the impacts of change.
Outside Support – makes provision for professional development. teacher factors.• Capacity to Innovate – considers physical resources. and adopt a systematic approach to curriculum implementation. 17 . learner factors and each school’s ethos and management. • If the Barbados Ministry of Education were to apply these guidelines. direct support to learners and monitoring strategies. resources required for the innovation. types of pressures and support brought to bear by change. there is a greater possibility that the revised curriculum would convert some of the worthwhile ideas in Curriculum 2000 into classroom realities.
M. G. 34-35. (1995).. New York: Bantam. Understanding schools: The foundations of education. Barbados Ministry of Education. (1916). Alexandria. J. & Brooks. C. Hall. G. New York: Harper & Row. In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Brooks. (2001). principles and pitfalls. 38(1). A. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.References Armstrong. G. G. Implementing Change: Patterns. & Hord. G. Kamii. Emotional intelligence. Dewey. (1990). S. (1993).. (1990). & Rozycki. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. E. Hall. E. Clabaugh. New York: Macmillan. & Lewis. (2003). M. (1997). White paper on education reform: Preparing for the twenty-first century. K. Columbus. What is constructivism? Arithmetic Teacher. OH: Merrill Prentice 18 . D. B. J.. D.. Democracy and Education. Goleman. Curriculum today.
Curriculum 2000 Barbados. K. (2000). & Bowen.Lebow. 5. Boston. (2003). (2000). Santa Monica. Educational Technology Research and Development. Osberg.). E. Philosophy as a Basis for Curriculum Decisions. New York: Macmillan. Rainer. In P. Seattle. Behar-Horenstein. 25 (10). M. The saber-tooth curriculum: A Satire on American Education. Rogan. College of Education. J. Dissertation. Passmore. PhD. O’Neill. & Pajak (Eds. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Vol. D. F..). Logical Positivism. Constructivist Pedagogy in Primary Classrooms. (2002). 2000. A. (1939).. M. (1967). April 24-28. J. Ornstein. Towards a Theory of Curriculum Implementation with Particular Reference to Science Education in Developing Countries. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Guyten. 41(3). Constructivism in practice: The case for meaning- making in the virtual world. In Ornstein. University of Washington. International Journal of Science Education. Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (pp. MA: Allyn & Bacon. J. 4-16. WA. Educational Ideologies: Contemporary Expressions of Educational Philosophy. A. Rationale & Guidelines for Curricular Reform in Barbados. 1171-1204. 52-57). Edwards (Ed. (1997). J. Peddiwell. W. New Orleans. Ministry of Education Youth Affairs & Culture. (1993). CA: Goodyear Publishing. LA. D. & Grayson. (1981). Constructivist values for instructional systems design: Five principles toward a new mindset. C. 3-9). 19 . New York: McGraw-Hill.
Thompson. Pathways to Change. M. Press. 20 . Studies in the Theory of Ideology. The pedagogical. Cambridge: Polity Verspoor. 1997. Seattle. (1989). and. July 9-11. cultural. A. (1984). WA. Windschitl. political challenges of creating a constructivist classroom. J. Washington DC: The World Bank. (1997). Improving the Quality of Education in Developing Countries. Paper presented at the International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.