Curriculum and the two views

If we’ve agreed that curriculum is that structure we think will cause learning, and I guess we have, since no one has left any comments to the contrary on my previous posts, then it should be pretty clear where our two views of learning, our two systems of memory, fit into the picture.

If we think that learning is a basic set of facts to memorize, then the structure of our learning will be long compilations of all the things we need to know. Actually, let’s call it the things we think children need to know. Quick, what’s the valence of carbon? What, you don’t know that? I bet you learned it. Why don’t you know it?

If we think that learning is a construction process, then our curriculum ought to be a set of knowledge goals centered around providing opportunities to construct that knowledge.

Clearly, of course, our curriculum must be a combination of these two views. There are some things we just have to know: the alphabet, addition facts, the names of the states, etc., etc. Where it breaks down is when we have to agree on the limits of that knowledge. This breakdown is what leads to all kinds of compromise and to 23-year curricula like the QCC. I mean, if we don’t teach them the causes and effects of the Alien and Sedition Acts (or, as my son refers to them, “Patriot Act 1.0”), then how will they know it? I can feel the panic rising even as we think about it.

One of the goals of the GPS was to simplify, to reduce the sheer number of things we had to make sure the children memorized, to try get the curriculum down to the thirteen years we actually have the children captive.

Another of its goals, if I understand it correctly, is to provide a structure for students to begin to construct actual knowledge that is deep, meaningful, accurate, and longlasting.

So… does it do that? And if it does, what does that mean for media specialists?

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