Reflection Paper on Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (Allan Orstein, Edward Pajak & Stacey Ornstein) and Ideology and Curriculum (Michael Apple)
A Reflection Paper on Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (Allan Orstein, Edward Pajak & Stacey Ornstein) and Ideology and Curriculum (Michael Apple) written by Sharo Dickerson
In Chapter One of Contemporary Issues in Curriculum (5th Edition), philosophy is defined as a manifestation of “individuals’ life experiences, common sense, social and economic backgrounds, education, and general beliefs that cultivates personal growth, development, and learning from experiences” (Ornstein, Pajak & Ornstein, 2011, p. 3). Philosophy plays a key role in the education profession and it influences the factors that continue to define today’s education (Ornstein et al, 2011). The different philosophical views of stakeholders in the school community are meant to provide diversity in the development and implementation of curriculum. However, traditional views continue to be present in school communities (Ornstein et al, 2011). In doing so, traditionalists perceive education as a means in providing direction, control, and restraint in social issues and society (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 5).
According to Ronald Brandt and Ralph Tyler (1983), goals and objectives are important in supporting student learning (Ornstein et al, 2011, p.10). When clear and well-defined goals are established, schools are able to “spend valuable instructional time on high-priority learning” (Ornstein et al, 2001, p. 10). The public schools in the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD) strive to identify, develop, and implement the goals and objectives to fulfill the district’s vision. The YISD stakeholders believe in the importance of providing meaningful instructional time to students. This is made possible through effective and productive professional learning communities (PLC) where collaboration and communication exist in teachers’ professional development, lesson planning, and classroom instruction.
Furthermore, Brandt and Tyler (1983) explained that curriculum goals and objectives should include (a) understanding of contemporary society, (b) background of students, and (c) consideration of potential subject fields (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 15). In doing so, students become cognizant and learn from their experiences, based on their interests, societal demands and issues, relevance of real world situations, and the like (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 15). Likewise, goals and objectives can facilitate curriculum evaluation, provided that the former are created with clarity and importance (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 18). It is common knowledge that the state of Texas mandates state assessments to shape teaching and learning in the public schools. Although Texas may say otherwise, many of its public schools’ overall performance are evaluated according to students’ performance in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) (Darling-Hammond, 2010). When public schools fail to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), specific measures are put into action to ensure that these schools are accountable for students’ academic performance. John Bruner (1956) stated that schools need curriculum structure that will determine and support students’ learning experience. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) is an example of a structure that serves as the foundation of the curriculum in Texas public schools (Bruner, 1956).
Peter McLaren (1999) discussed about the contributions of Paul Freire (1997) in the field of preferential option for the poor (Ornstein et al, 2011). Freire (1997) shared that “educational change must be accompanied by significant changes in the social and political structure in which education takes place” (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 22). Contemporary issues in education evidently demonstrate how the social and political structure influences decisions in funding, curriculum standards, curriculum formation, school district goals, and many more (Apple, 2004). Should change be desired, it is apparent that stakeholders recognize the importance of understanding societal demands and political influences to supporting a non-oppressive educational system (Ornstein et al, 2011). Likewise, Neil Noddings (1995) stated that there is an absence and lack of care among students, which includes the absence and lack of teaching students how to care (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 55). When students are taught how to care, they will be more (a) aware of their humanistic nature, (b) accepting of others regardless of race, color, economic status, (c) insightful towards real world situations, and (d) active participants in sharing responsibility and accountability, to name a few (Ornstein et al, 2011, pp. 54-59).
The absence or lack of self-value often results in misconception of individuals’ self-worth and non-belief in the existence of choice and evaluation (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 34). According to Maxine Greene (1995), the young and old have become fearful of moral uncertainty (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 33). This include the fear of war, recession, economic uncertainty that results to harmful reactions, abuse and neglect, etc. Many young people believe that their existence is to serve as human resources of society, instead of beings, who have a choice to make decisions and become active participants of change (Ornstein et al, 2011, pp 34-35). Unfortunately, American public schools are controlled by society and politics to producing future citizens as a workforce that will support businesses and for-profit organizations (Apple, 2004). Even in legislation, decisions are made based on the need to sustain and adhere to the American capitalistic economy and consumerism (Apple, 2004).
Despite the grim reality of situations in current educational issues, stakeholders need to continue striving for effective and meaningful student learning (Ornstein et al, 2011, pp. 44-45). This includes (a) participation in determining school direction and service, (b) focusing on supporting students and parents, (c) ensuring the education of all children, (d) engage students in vital intellectual pursuits and relevant learning experiences, and (e) appreciation of individual cultures and diversity (Ornstein et al, 2011, p. 45). These goals may post as challenges to public schools, unless stakeholders collaborate together and establish open communication in sharing ideas, developing plans, and implementing decisions that are relevant to valuable student learning.
In Linda Darling-Hammond’s (2010) book, The Flat World and Education, applicable learning experiences are needed to support the more specialized knowledge and skills being demanded in today’s jobs (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 2). Many of the students in the public schools are not certain as to what type of jobs they will have to prepare for the future (Darling-Hammond, 2010). In the past, it was easier to determine future jobs of society based on the influx of industrial, technical, and for-profit businesses (Apple, 2004). With globalization changing today’s economy, politics, and society, different opportunities and challenges have developed (Darling-Hammond, 2010). What does this mean in education? This means that the effects of globalization, also affects education, particularly in determining students’ learning experiences, education budgets, curriculum structure, etc. (Apple, 2004).
Apple, M. (2004). Ideology and Curriculum. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer.
Bruner, J. (1956). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Ornstein, A., Pajak, E., & Ornstein, S. (2011). Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. (5th ed.). Upple Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design. Alexandra, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005. Print.
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