Curriculum Planning and Development

The Tyler’s Rationale is an approach in planning curriculum that consists of four fundamental questions that envelope the 3 influencing factors in curriculum planning. In my own understanding these are as follows:
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? As an educational institution, we need to seek the purpose of schooling and to understand what we are going to teach. We must reflect on the relevance of the needs of the society and the materials we are using to the purpose we set upon to ourselves.
2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? These are the experiences provided by the content, processes and methods that we used to deliver the knowledge.
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized? Alfred North Whitehead once said, “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” Order is what suppresses chaos and in the contexts of education, how can we put emphasis in maintaining order/organization in transmitting of knowledge so that all efforts are not in vain?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Tyler 1949). The only way to determine the effectivity of our planned curriculum is through measurement, monitoring and evaluation.

His fundamental questions are reflective, for it always go back to the very basic needs of education: what must be taught? What are the goals of these teachings? How can we refine those goals into appropriate objectives? How can we deliver and transmit these objectives into instructions?

Planning the curriculum, hence; requires systematic process and scientific management that would address the need for blue-collar or white collar jobs creation, if not available. Advocated by F.W.Taylor, scientific management is decentralization of labour so that jobs can be simplified, with each department handling specific tasks; each cluster of personnel categorized under specific job responsibilities: management, laborers, payroll staff, marketers, etc; and lastly, cost control based on the systematic time-and-motion of delivering outputs. Similarly, Bobbitt in his suggestions in planning a curriculum must embody the needs of the society in terms of how people should live and work. Professional fields are named and the required skill or expertise have clearly defined and simplified into the requirements and competencies. This systematic product of task allocation can also be traced in the categories of education system, basic education and its own coverage of learnings; secondary and higher education entitled on each own set of course requirements. Each key player follows its own rules and orders, implemented within the defined jurisdiction.

I would like to discuss in the proceeding paragraphs about the three major sources of curriculum planning and development, namely: (1) society (2) learners or the students and (3) knowledge or the subject matter with regard to contemporary education.

Society. Social forces such as the change in the characteristics of population, international standards, political impact, role of media, change in economy, resources and other market forces, disciplinary associations, development of science and technology among others eventually affect education either positive or negative way. The government/Society plays a very important role in shaping the education of its people. Society consists of the contemporary life outside the school. Universal needs such as civic roles, vocation, role of the government and religious institutions, family, health and the need for profession that will sustain the existence of the society. Our own history tells us that the preference from different fields shifted from Agriculture to Education to Medicine/Law/Accounting to Nursing and recently to Caregiving Professionals, and most likely in the near future, Call Center Education will have its own niche in the Philippines’ higher institute of learning. Nowhere in the 1990’s that caregiving course is available in our schools and universities but made possible due to the demands of opportunities abroad and the desire for labor exploitation of the government rather than emphasis on entrepreneurial curriculum, social reconstruction and progressivism that paved way to the Industrial Revolution in the West. During the progressive era, educational institution is viewed as the grand solution to the society’s destruction. It needs to be reconstructed in the light of advancement in technology and science. And that schools and learning institutions should not operate in isolation with the society. Therefore, the idea of progressivism is not just a movement but a product of the school of thought and innovations in curriculum. Other positive examples of curriculum development rooted from the need of the society can be found in the curriculums of China and its influences in Japan, Singapore and Korea. In Japan, the strongest elements of the academic curriculum have been science and mathematics according to the The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In addition, Japanese schools have a strong social and cultural curriculum that is taught outside of the classroom. There are jukus or privately owned academies where Japanese students can develop individual ability such as martial arts, tea ceremony, calligraphy, or another Japanese tradition, which gets them acquainted to the “working clique” idea that pervades Japanese society. This interactions formed in school clubs contribute positive learning environment and a strong sense of patriotism. Prior to this modern curriculum and education in Japan, Fukuzawa Yukichi, a scholar, born into a low-ranking samurai family in Osaka in 1835 and the founder of what is now Keio University; concluded that that the most effective school system in the world at that time was in Prussia. Therefore, Japan settled on a system similar to this system and the first true universities were developed around this time. Curriculums are dictated by the cabinet’s Ministry of Education, which was solidified when the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education was distributed in the entire Japanese schools, emphasizing fascism, loyalty and filial piety that reached its goals approaching World War II.

In Singapore, their Ministry of Education has its own division in Curriculum Planning & Development for the purpose of meeting the needs of the nation, community and individual. The country’s vision “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” exemplifies their obsession in education and extends as far as their basic denomination: underneath the 2-dollar bill which shows students listening to a professor, with a university in the background is the word “education”. Science, math, architecture and technology serves as the core aspects of their survival since they lack the geographical advantage and natural resources that other neighboring countries have, such as Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand in terms of agriculture. In response to their dependency in exact sciences and the hunger to develop the meager resources accessible to them, they have excelled in various academic disciplines. Gathering impressive significant contributions to the improvement of teaching Mathematics is the Singapore Math Method, which is actually based from the national curriculum of Singapore and adopted by California, US and Israel.

Our Education system stipulated in Article II, section 17 of the Constitution “The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.” If our Constitution prioritizes education to promote functional literacy, preparation for society at large with basic survival skills and training, and readiness for adulthood responsibility, why is it that our country’s economic and social development still occupies the rank of “developing country aka 3rd world country?” Despite of the achievements by the government and the Department of Education such as the revision of basic education curriculum, the creation of the bridge and ladderized program, the training of public school teachers in top universities, and the cooperation of civic groups in establishing centers and funding scholarships, the government declared that it still has sore spots in achieving the Millenium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight time-bound, concrete and specific targets aimed at significantly reducing, if not decisively eradicating poverty, by the year 2015. The 2nd goal aims to achieve universal primary education which, on the progress report submitted by the government has a profound impact on the outlined goals. Our main source of industry, namely; agriculture, forestry, and fishery sector registered the lowest rate of growth at 5.1 percent. It actually makes sense to think the application of Taba’s Model in curriculum development; the grassroots communities should be developed and explored so that the industrial building blocks of our existence will come to light. The budget appropriated in supporting the goals of education for all and of poverty eradication was destroyed by the social cancer of corruption. The funds that could have been used for MDGs, particularly poverty reduction such as the P769-million fertilizer scam that began as an attempt to increase agricultural productivity. Where have all the P34 billion recovered (and now missing?) Marcos money that could have been used for agrarian reform? Take the series of textbook scandals and the nauseating corruption in drug purchase and distribution. Imagine the number of lives that could have been saved and lifted from poverty had these funds been used properly.

In terms of globalization and international recognitions, this is the time where exceptional education is a prime commodity. Our scientific achievements lack merit despite budget appropriation of almost 1 billion for the National Science Complex in Diliman. We are considered poor in researches and publication of journals of empirical study. Education is our survival, science provides sustainability and competency. Professor Flor Lacanilao, former chancellor of the University of the Philippines Visayas points in her graduation speech addressed to the Institute of Biology, U P Diliman on April 21, 2007, that the progress of a nation depends on its performance in science and technology. “A country without science cannot be saved”, she said.
So what is wrong with our educational system that we are behind our Asian counterparts? Our very own Constitution defends the need for education yet does it meet the needs of our society? What went wrong? Should we go back to the philosophical and psychological foundations of our ancestors and Western civilizations to provide us insights? “History is a mirror of the past, and a lesson for the present”, as what the Persian Proverb says.

Learners or Students. The society’s general populace. The learners’ individual variations, strengths and weaknesses, background, characteristics and selection must also be considered in planning a curriculum. Since learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge, I will discuss the learners as beginners or children, their development that will define their skills when they become adults. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s revolutionary dissertation in his book, Emile or in Education facilitates environment alteration and control to provide learnings. According to him, a child must be allowed to enjoy his childhood and discover the knowledge around him thru nature. He must be isolated from the society so as to preserve his innate goodness. Proper education is therefore necessary so that he will remain incorruptible yet well adjusted and capable in social skills. Rousseau also recommended the use of the story of Robinson Crusoe in vocational and technical training of a student so he can contribute to the society. There are good insights on Rousseau’s pedagogy in curriculum planning and development, however; I prefer strong emphasis on social interaction as part of the curriculum planning and development. Together with this zone of proximal development illustrated in Vygotsky’s theories of learning which is also integrated in the modern curriculum, Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development will help us understand the appropriate inclusions of the psychological needs for affection, belonging, recognition, and a sense of purpose in the developing a curriculum.

Subject Matter. Herbert Spencer (1860) once posed a question: what knowledge is of most worth? Subject matter is the content, the syllabus that summarizes the concept of what to teach in defining the curriculum. What will be the contributions of this subject matter to the education of the young people who will specialize in different fields? Are the subject matters for the program of academic, of technical, of intellectual processes, of social, and of personal importance?

Subject matter is also subject to change. Changes in the society, in demographic trends, in technological expansion, in concepts of learning and teaching practices must also be considered in planning a curriculum. We also need to take into account the goals and specific objectives for each subject matter. Goals are educational intentions that are specific and what the educational institution is seeking to achieve; whereas the objectives are the contract shared with learners that specifies what they will be able to do prior to learning and the source of rational choice of teaching and learning activities.

Curriculum Development is an ongoing process. Tyler’s four questions are internal dialogue that curriculum planners must have used as basis in developing the curriculum. While it provides certain favorable aspects in shaping the curriculum in terms of complex process of learning and human differences in acquiring learning, we also have to take into consideration the educational philosophies of the educators and values of the society. If I will be designing a curriculum, I would like to think that I can apply the combination of the theories I learned to come up with an ideal curriculum for the young minds of today. There should be a mandatory core curriculum required for all undergraduates similar to that of the Columbia University and University of Chicago. The core curriculum is designed to foster critical skills and intellectual discourse in broad spectrum of academic disciplines before moving on to their field of specialization. Curriculum planning and development must be subjected within a specified time frame before evalution. General education must be provided in primary schools and reduction of general courses upon entering secondary schools. What we need to foster to our students are disciplines such as humanities, liberal arts, psychology and philosophy combined with their field of specialization so that we can cultivate thinking minds. We need scholars that would transform our society even if it will not happen overnight. Once we developed the scholars in our young students, we must equip them with technical skills, logical thinking, and physiological capabilities.

Gerald L. Gutek (1991)Cultural Foundations of Education. New York: Macmillan
Tanner & Tanner (1980) Curriculum Development: Theory into practice. New York: Macmillan
McNeil, T (2006) Contemporary Curriculum in Thought Action. 6th Edition. Boston, MA: Little-Brown
Oliva P. F. (2005) Developing the Curriculum. New York: Allyn & Bacon–rankings

*Images are downloaded from various sources

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