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Module 3

Connecting Philosophy to Planning, Instruction and


Selina Robb July 2017

Curriculum Philosophies
Philosophy (organizing framework) = the basis for curriculum decisions and a general theory of education (Ornstein, 1990-
1991). The goals of all philosophies are to improve education.

Reconstructionism/ Pragmaticism: Education as a change agent (Hill, 1994), education in school and in real world
environments, teachers guide inquiry, learners to critically reflect on technology and to improve existing technology to
"improve the human condition" (Hill, 1994), moral and social development, education is a social process leading to societal
change (E.g. Ursula Franklin Academy)

Learner Centered-Pragmatism: education is experiential and student centered and based on an individual's experience of
the world, teacher as facilitator, uses diverse teaching/ learning strategies and environments to create quality learning
experiences,considers student motivation, activity orientated, concerned with process and content, help learners create
meaning in their lives

Subject Centered (Academic Rationalism): traditional education, inductive, focus on skills content and knowledge, facts and
information about external world, teachers are subject specialists, performance based measures
Learner Centered (Pragmatism/ Humanism)
Planning: increased focus on the leaner and their experiences (Pragmatism), clear learning curricular targets,
assessment informs instruction and planning, considers needs and interests of students, some planning done ahead of
teaching but adjusted with student input and choice, experiential curriculum, physical and intellectual growth, backward
mapping- set direction through assessment and pedagogy as applied to specific learning and curricular outcomes (Hayes,

Instruction: authentic, differentiated, inquiry and discovery learning, dialogue with students, co-construction of learning
with students, socialization, developmental, educators create learning conditions to stimulate and facilitate student growth,
students interact with their social, physical and intellectual environment, student motivation influences, problem solving

Assessment: (McMillan 2014) not standardized, differentiated, measures student performance, matched to learning
targets, student self-report, essays, performance assessments, oral questions, teacher informal observations, focus
n(Assessment to measure student performance in a valid, reliable, fair manner, teachers need to be aware of subjectivity,
bias and stereotyping)
Subject Centered (Essentialism/ Perrenialism)

Planning:, inductive focus on skills content and knowledge, facts and information about external world, curriculum
based transmission of knowledge, intellectual focus, does not consider needs of or backgrounds of individual learners,
focus on cognitive and intellectual development, transmission of cultural heritage, considers standards in subject matter,
prescribed curriculum

Instruction: structured, teacher centric, direct instruction, teach to test, subjects taught in isolation, knowledge
developed in subject areas, subject divisions, teacher specialists, school standards, use of textbooks, verbal activities
emphasized, knowledge of society taught, (does not consider needs of individual learners),labs, experiments, field trips,
student grouping by ability

Assessment: may include testing and standardized testing, accountability, performance based measures, summative
Social Constructionist (Problem Centered)
Planning: formative assessments to inform planning, prior knowledge assessed, goal to foster transfer of learning in
new contexts and applications/ situations, prior knowledge and student experience considered, focus on needs of society,
social reform, emphasis on whole child, problem centered design

Instruction: high quality instruction, problem solving skills, opportunities for all to access curriculum, social norms foster
persistence, connections to real world, authentic tasks, conversations with students, feedback provided regularly, scaffolding, dynamic
social learning environment, instruction linked to assessment, goal to prepare for outside world, students involved in constructing their
meaning and learning, cooperative learning opportunities outside classroom

Assessment: broad range of dynamic assessments to meet needs of learners, more open ended performance tasks
(Shepard 2000), assessment meant to enhance learning, ...good assessment tasks are interchangeable with good
instructional tasks (Shepard, 2000 p. 8). -teachers offer assistance during assessments, assessment as learning,
transparency, students know and understand the evaluation criteria, self assessments, assessment as insight- not
rewards and punishment (Shepard, 2000)
Assessment Considerations
McMillan (2014) proposes several important concepts about instruction.

Assessments Should:

-align with instructional practices, be unbiased, be of high quality, checks student understanding and learning but also
inform planning and instruction, consider student motivation and cognitive demand, be authentic, be efficient and relatively
easy to mark and score, be relevant to students, multiple forms should be used

Assessment Methods:

-select response, brief response, performance tasks, essays, oral questioning, teacher formal and informal observations,
student self-assessments, portfolios
Two Examples of Communities of Learners
An example of a school that is social reconstructionist in nature is the Ursula
Franklin Academy where students learn in a mixture of grade settings with and
from their peers. Some of the skills encouraged at this school through inquiry are
critical thinking, future oriented skills like computer technology. The school climate
is one of mutual respect and there is a focus on social justice.

The Seven Oaks School Division in Winnepeg is a student centered school board.
This division considers students learning styles and interests, students have a
voice in deciding what they want to learn which is tied into the curriculum to create
a culture of student work. Teachers are guides and co-participants, connecting
with students to negotiate the curriculum. Students engagement is high.
Finlands Educational Model
Finlands education system differs vastly from our Canadian one and they are
considered leaders in education.

Children in Finland start school at age 7 in mixed ability classes and are not
graded until age 13. Education of children is about discovering passions and
becoming ready to learn (Robinson video) There is an overall focus on a broad
education largely without standardized tests. Teachers are highly trained and
esteemed in Finland. They have the professional discretion to develop their own
curriculum based upon the needs of their students using the national curriculum
as a guide.
Module 3 Ideas I Would Like to Investigate Further
I agree with Robinson who in states that children are naturally curious and creative learners. Teachers
engage, provoke, stimulate and facilitate learning. I believe in a balanced approach to curriculum blending
attributes from different philosophical orientations. As Ornstein (1990/1991) stated, over time, individual
beliefs about curriculum philosophies may need to be reexamined.

Decision makers in education need to be closely attuned to the realities of teaching by engaging in
dialogue with practitioners (Hayes, 2003). This process should reflect current educational landscape.

I would like to see more opportunities for educators to engage in professional dialogue and collective

Initial teacher training should include components of curriculum study, planning and assessment.
(Shepard, 2000)

Hayes, D. (2003) Making Learning an Effect of Schooling: Aligning curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics
of Education, 24:2, 225-245, DOI: 10.1080/01596300303039

Hill, A. M. (1994). Perspectives on philosophical shifts in vocational education: From realism to pragmatism and reconstructionism. Journal of
Vocational and Technical Education, 10(2), 37-45.

McMillan, J.H. (2014). Classroom assessment: Principles and practice for effective standards- based curriculum. (6th Ed) 1-20, 57-64, 74-88. Boston,
MA: Pearson
Ornstein, A. C. (1990/1991). Philosophy as a basis for curriculum decisions. The High School Journal, 74, 102-109.

Ornstein, A. C. (2009). Curriculum: Foundations, principles and issues. (5th Ed.) 31-57. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon

Robinson, K. How to Escape Educations Death Valley, video retrieved July 25, 2017 from

Shepard, L. A. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14. doi:10.3102/0013189X029007004