Curriculum Schmurriculum

Like the law, the curriculum isn’t meant to be taken literally. It’s something fluid, constantly evolving. Most importantly, it should be a guideline. It’s disturbing when people say you can’t do something because it’s against the law. Or equivalently, you can’t teach something if it’s not in the syllabus. Ultimately, your own morality is the most important thing and substituting your personal thoughts and opinions about some of the deep questions for a knowledge of the law as it stands is irresponsible and dangerous, not to mention stupid.

It might not be an easy process to make a curriculum (or a set of laws) but it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as people don’t throw away their common sense.

Lesson plans are training wheels. Experienced teachers rarely if ever use them (see Hear & Say (2009)). I would argue the best teachers are able to design their own plans tailored to different kinds of classes and situations. That is, they don’t need a template and may even find one a hindrance rather than a help. Point is, I feel a bit like that with the ACU one. I’m not necessarily experienced but I think I’d do better designing my own version. It is indeed a tricky business. Maybe in future give students an option of creating their own original version of a lesson plan.

Not a big fan of Bloom’s taxonomy. I think questioning is great. There are certainly different types and levels, in particular the duality of open and closed. His 6 types are completely retarded. Genius is about simplicity. Making the difficult easy. Not taking an interesting concept and making it confusing and ambiguous and wordy. Are we seriously meant to know which category our questions fall under? Not to mention the fact that questions can be answered in different ways: a short, insightful answer to a very open/big/high-level question, or a long-winded, higher-order response to a simple yes or no question. Evaluation, synthesis, analysis. These three words more associated with bullshit than with anything remotely meaningful. Completely subjective and arguable concepts. Not clearly ordered at all. Orwell would probably agree (I think). Ultimately it comes down to the teacher’s intuition and ability to ask good follow-up questions.

I like the idea of questioning as a way of breaking down students’ thinking. Throwing keywords they use back at them (not randomly of course, you should have some idea of what you’re doing and why). What does that word mean? Let them discover their misconceptions for themselves. And let them realise they *can* do harder problems they didn’t think they could do. Inception. Just plant the ideas, guide them through. They’ll think they came up with it themselves and remember all the better for it. Radical notions are a contagious disease.

Holy moly, just read this, how appropriate: “…prompts the student’s thinking process with questions.” – Orienting Teaching Toward the Learning Process by Olle ten Cate, PhD, Linda Snell, MD, Karen Mann, PhD, and Jan Vermunt, PhD. One of our supplementary readings for EDFD589.

bell hooks. The best reading (EDFD589) so far. Not very long, easy and enjoyable to read, not lazy, surprising, even inspiring. Very refreshing.

Tolerance. Doesn’t this imply other cultures are annoying? That we will “tolerate” them? Not embrace or respect them, that would be ridiculous. Or notice the similarities and common values between them. Don’t teach evolution. Teach about Aboriginals. Our kids will be racist if we don’t teach them right. We have to bend over backwards for the sake of political-correctness. Kids are the least biased people in the world. Let them be exposed to all the cultures. Funny thing is, a new, grander culture will be born. It’s already under way, no doubt spurred on by the expansive freedom granted by modern technology. The expressive power of a medium like the internet.

One last thing. Don’t repeat yourself. Just say things once. Don’t go on and on and on and on when you clearly have nothing new to add. It wastes time. And space. And brings down efficiency, sometimes to a significant degree. And avoid saying the same thing in different ways. Or using unnecessary examples. Eg) “The fewer words you use the better. For example, rather than saying ‘all Mexicans are thieves’, just say ‘Mexicans are thieves’.” The idea had come across so the example didn’t add much of anything. Finally, get to the point. Have a point. Try not to lose it while thinking of clever words to use to support it. Remember: write well, sleep well.

Post adjourned.

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About karnok

A legendary ninja.
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