curious about what ontario teachers want in the curriculum refresh. tweet me with opinions.
— Marian Small (@marian_small) November 4, 2013
I realized that, while I have opinions, I have really just considered curriculum a given and not something that I have input into. The more I thought about the question, the move overwhelming it became to me. What do I want? There were so many things – less prescription, more focus on big ideas and process skills (you can see all of those mentioned in the responses to that tweet). Then I realized that I didn’t want a refresh. I wanted a do over.
A refresh assumes the same pedagogy, and the same direction. I don’t think we are living in the same pedagogical time as 2005 (last Math refresh).
What I think we need is two-fold:
1. A Better Basis of Support around the implementation of curriculum – Teachers need a support network (see this post by Tom Fuke, as he dives headfirst into his PLN) for new curricula. We need PD (and responsive and active PD), and we need the ability to have small group contact with “experts” or people who are willing to show and share. To often we end up teaching in a bubble, because it is hard to reach outside what we do day-to-day. We need the support, and the OK, to understand that what we have is new, and what we need is support.
2. We need to pull technology out of the lab – We, in Ontario, don’t live in a society where computers are locked to the desk/office/lab. So why is it that our main source of technological adaptation is in a lab setting? I admit that some of the reason is economical and structural. That way schools were built makes it hard to physically move a lab around. But some boards (well, at least the WRDSB) have indicated a new direction towards decentralized mobile access. I think it is time that we have words to that effect in our curriculum. We need to, at the very least, reflect the reality of the day, if not our hazy view of the future.
The curriculum is treated as gospel in many ways. I know that I have been reprimanded by my colleagues if what I have taught is not specifically written in (but well within the spirit of) the curriculum. Students need to be prepared, and if curriculum is the driving force, then we need a curriculum that drives teachers to new places.