Fruit

At the end of the program, how many students become the fruit you (institutionally) had hoped for?  Furthermore, how do you describe what that outcome looks like and the process that the student undergoes to become that person.  The process broadly may be seen as the curriculum.  Of course, curricula are complex and there are many factors such as resources, sequencing, coursework, content, pedagogy, faculty, etc that go into developing and implementing a curriculum. The end goal/product should be considered in developing and improving curricula.  In reading Curriculum: from theory to practice by Wesley Null, I came across some interesting ways to describe curricular philosophies.  These concepts may serve as important steps in engaging curricular discussions.  Which best describes your curriculum?

Five Types of Curriculum:

1) Systematic

* education is a business approach

* high value on “objectivity”

* focus on instructional methods/techniques

* values assessment, accountability, efficiency

* standards based “what should students know and be able to do”

* science content valued more highly than humanities

* planning, highly structured

2) Existentialist

* the personal journey

* goal focus on uniqueness of a learner and the process of personal meaning making

* individual above community learning

* individuality and personal freedom above institutional responsibility

* more about surrounding learners with interesting possibilities than predetermining what the learner should be and learn.

3) Radical

* political perspective

* bias is embraced rather than navigated around

* knowledge that is aligned with political agenda is taught

* believes that curricular materials have inherent biases that should be countered, eg. suppression of content on ethnic disparities.

4) Pragmatic

* problem solving immediate social needs

5) Deliberative

* choice

* hearing multiple perspectives, choosing the best response, and acting on that response

* avoid extremes

Other key ideas:
goal of liberal arts: “transforms the inner constitution of a person’s character so that he or she can lead a life of reason, reflection, and deliberation.”

Key ideas:

* bridge tradition and foundation knowledge while preparing for a life of decisions that further these traditions.

* Breaking patterns of traditional thinking – “liberating”

* developed personal, defensible, perspectives

* curriculum making involves answering questions of practice, purpose, and integration

Reference:

Null W. Curriculum: From theory to practice. (C) 2011. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

As good as it gets

I was conversing with a colleague of mine on the subject matter of faculty development.  Over the years, I have personally needed much development.  Professionally, I feel that one of the greatest barriers to higher levels of care is the lack of development time built in to the average person’s work week.  This leads the professional to choose between personal life and professional development.  Which do you think most often would be chosen?

What would it look like if 4 hours a months were built into a work week for development?  I understand that some go to week long conferences.  But, even then, how much is being used to develop the professional?  If I take just one thing back from a conference, I think I’m doing good.  But, if I had the slow, steady change of more frequent development time, what would be the effects?

Many systems seem to be okay with the product that they produce.  But, the most successful companies don’t rest on their laurels.  They continually ask, “How can we improve?” and “How do we know we are doing our best?”  [This continuous improvement is only one aspect of a professional.]

The tension between good enough and continuous improvement will also exist.  What is one thing that could do today to set you on a path to improve for tomorrow?