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Curriculum Methods and Creativity
The control over the curriculum, which has been tightening for several decades, has created a complex dilemma for teachers: while creativity is commonly encouraged, instructional goals are still unbending, which sets limits to teachers’ and students’ creative thinking. Besides, even though creativity is not subject-specific, it is represented unequally across the curriculum (e.g. it is mostly linked to humanitarian disciplines while being excluded from mathematics, physics, or biology). Thus, the content of the course can also limit teachers’ opportunities to foster creativity. Moreover, there has been a recurrent tendency to marginalize creative subjects in favor of technical and social ones (Jones & Wyse, 2013).
One more restricting factor is the lack of trust in teachers’ discretion, which results in their limited access to the assessment of students’ performance. The centralized system striving for objectiveness turned out to be a nightmare for creative teaching and learning as the criteria that it provides force teachers to adhere to a small number of prescribed activities that are outcome-oriented.
This distorts students’ vision of their achievements: e.g. a student who reads a lot and is good at expressing his/her thoughts may have poor marks in English and Literature because his writing does not meet the standardized requirements. On the other hand, a student who is rather ignorant of Literature may have excellent marks for tests.
To create a culture that would value both standards and creativity, the instructor should (Cropley & Cropley, 2010):
- provide chances to follow personal interests within curriculum limits (e.g. let the student choose topics that interest them for a project);
- encourage risk-taking (students should not be worried about making mistakes);
- develop teamwork (collaborative thinking fosters personal creativity);
- help students experiment, make connections and approach a problem from different angles (even a boring standardized task may become involved if it is seen from another perspective).
Technology in Curriculum BYOD
The present-day generation of students cannot imagine life without gadgets. That is why the use of BYOD in a classroom for doing assignments is an effective measure to enhance access to the curriculum and increase students’ enthusiasm (Sangani, 2013).
BYOD on my campus has proved to give students excellent opportunities to make the most of their devices. Using their laptops, tablets, and smartphones students significantly improve their research skills as they feel more comfortable when they are familiar with the device. The use of BYOD in my learning environment resulted in:
- the increase of students’ participation; since students enjoy using their gadgets, they become involved in everything that can be performed with their help (making notes, doing research, looking for audio and video materials, etc.);
- the shift to student-controlled learning; students have received more autonomy from the teacher as they can do more than simply listening;
- the improved communication and teamwork; the use of technology for communication with classmates enhances the collective performance; students show more enthusiasm to work on group projects;
- saving costs; a lot of money, which was previously spent on keeping the equipment up-to-date, has been saved as students are allowed to use whatever they consider convenient;
- personalization of the learning style; since each student has his/her own pace of comprehension and doing assignments, BYOD has made it possible for everyone to learn using individual strategies;
- the new style of communication between the teacher and students; the ability to use personal devices has made step-by-step instructions provided by the teacher redundant, which has led to a gradual transfer to inquiry- and project-based learning.
Technology in Curriculum Cite
The Career and Technical Education (CTE) program introduced by Houston Independent School District (HISD) is aimed to boost career preparedness among middle and high school students. It assists students in identifying their strengths and weaknesses, investigating their career interests, and assessing their opportunities. The primary objective of this program is to help students obtain both theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are indispensable to a successful career in the 21st century as its economic and social environment demands flexibility, versatility, and competence (Hirschy, Bremer, & Castellano, 2011).
The following strengths of the program can be singled out:
- students receive a chance to get college credit for courses that they completed at school;
- they acquire a rich academic background opening ways to a whole variety of scientific, artistic, and business areas of career-building;
- they have a chance to take part in internships, explore worksites, and make their evaluations;
- when students earn free college credits, they save tuition expenditures;
- the program motivates students so they have fewer disciplinary problems as a result;
- it makes it easier for students to shift to higher education;
- CTE makes more students go to colleges and universities;
- their preparation level increases;
- businesses get a lot of better-educated employees who are career-oriented and can contribute to companies’ development;
- the program allows employers to save costs on staff training;
- as a result of a greater number of professionals in each field, a healthier economy is established;
- the program increases the general level of education in the district, which implies that more people are willing to develop their cultural and civic life.
Selecting Curriculum Materials
To completely meet the curriculum goals, it is essential to select high-quality, competency-based instructional products and services. The right choice can be made only if all the existing dependent and independent variables are taken into account (Charalambous & Hill, 2012). Thus, determining what products and services to utilize is possible when you (Davis et al., 2014):
- outline the topic and the purpose of the curriculum for selecting materials that would be suitable for achieving all the ultimate learning goals, improving the learning environment, and making the most of cultural peculiarities, and students’ characteristics;
- identify how much information can be covered for the time prescribed by the curriculum; those educational services that will go beyond it may turn out to be redundant as well as learning materials that require a more extensive period;
- create a list of desired outcomes; the selection of the materials is impossible if you are not sure what skills and knowledge students should demonstrate when they complete the course;
- consult curriculum guides from other campuses; it is rather useful to have a sample, however, your decision should not be determined by this factor only, as other campuses may have completely different learning conditions.
As soon as you have finished preliminary preparation, you can start to select appropriate materials, services, and experiences that students will need for meeting curriculum goals. It can be achieved by using textbooks, delivering lectures, promoting discussions, making projects, etc. The audience you are going to work with should always be kept in mind.
To communicate the final decision to your school stakeholders and community, several approaches can be used. You can provide a detailed description of the materials that you have selected and account for your choice in the written form. Or, for instance, you can make a presentation to show the audience the benefits of these products and services. Finally, face-to-face communication with stakeholders is also possible.
Charalambous, C. Y., & Hill, H. C. (2012). Teacher knowledge, curriculum materials, and quality of instruction: Unpacking a complex relationship. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44(4), 443-466.
Cropley, D., & Cropley, A. (2010). Recognizing and fostering creativity in technological design education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 20(3), 345-358.
Davis, E., Palincsar, A. S., Arias, A. M., Bismack, A. S., Marulis, L., & Iwashyna, S. (2014). Designing educative curriculum materials: A theoretically and empirically driven process. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 24-52.
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Hirschy, A. S., Bremer, C. D., & Castellano, M. (2011). Career and Technical Education (CTE) Student success in community colleges: a conceptual model. Community College Review, 39(3), 296-318.
Jones, R., & Wyse, D. (2013). Creativity in the primary curriculum. London, UK: Routledge.
Sangani, K. (2013). BYOD to the classroom. Engineering & Technology, 8(3), 42-45.