What is curriculum?

[Originally posted 10/27/04]

This past Monday, October 25, I attended county-wide grade level meetings for 3rd and 4th grades at our shiny new performing arts center. I had invited myself to these meetings, part of which was to deal with the new GPS curriculum.

I was greeted warmly by many people, but they all had the same question: “What are you doing here?” I explained that I sort of have a tangential connection to the curriculum, but one could tell they were puzzled nonetheless.

::sigh:: What’s a media specialist to do? Any MS reading these pages will understand immediately my frustration: we are trained as instructional designers, to integrate the resources of the media center into the curriculum through cooperative planning with the classroom teachers, and yet no one else in the school is trained to use us in that way. In fact, they seem completely ignorant of what our jobs are supposed to be.

Many years ago, we opened a new high school, and after our first faculty meeting, an assistant principal asked for all the department chairs to meet with her later in the morning. I asked if I could attend the meeting, and with that familiar, puzzled look on her face, she said I could, “but we’re just going to be talking about curriculum.” ::sigh:: As the years passed, it became clear that what she meant by “curriculum” was actually “textbooks.”

I was going to start us out by talking about our (media specialists) role in the curriculum, but let’s begin by defining curriculum. I like my definition: that structure we think will cause learning.

Can we at least be clear that curriculum is not textbooks, or even a list of things to learn?<

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