It is possible to say that two of the most important qualities of curriculum content are its meaning and value. Based on this, in order to assess curricula in terms of their social significance, I would use the model of Social Reconstructivism as the major approach to curriculum evaluation.
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According to the principles included in the given framework, schools should strive to teach students in a way that will help children to develop necessary analytical and problem-solving skills. By placing instruction in broader social contexts, a school should prepare children to cope with difficulties and challenges they may face in real-life situations and critically evaluate their experiences.
The ideas of social equality and justice are core to Social Reconstructivism. Therefore, when evaluating a curriculum from the given perspective, it is important to understand whether the selected instructional practices and learning activities will contribute to dispelling existing stereotypes in student populations and will enable them to gain awareness of social injustices. To comprehend whether a curriculum is sufficiently effective, it is necessary to evaluate expected instructional outcomes with regard to students’ abilities, developmental needs, and interests; as well as the social environment in which a school is placed. Overall, the given approach allows the evaluation of a curriculum in terms of its contribution to the development of social welfare including such aspects as the promotion of positive relationships, and the improvement of the overall life quality.
I think the focus of Social Constructivism on ethical and political areas of curricula content, as well as its emancipatory and value-oriented qualities, represents this approach as a very current and appropriate evaluation tool. Society-oriented perspective is especially important today because the present-day communities become increasingly diverse, cross-cultural interactions become more frequent than before, and the pace of advancement in multiple spheres of life gains momentum. In the context of rapid development and diversification, people need to incorporate ethical and social values into everyday practices, such as interpersonal communication; academic, and professional development. We need to teach children not to accept general points of view and live up to obsolete expectations, but rather encourage them to be individuals who can bring positive changes to the society by being responsive, creative, and intelligent.
The school is an important institution that provides the knowledge needed for improvement of all life dimensions and support to sound social practices. In my opinion, the classroom itself represents a micro-social environment where children learn about different values and beliefs which consequently affect their personal identities, decisions, and actions. And I believe that the evaluation of curricula from the social perspective can help to incorporate more positive values into the education process, increase the quality of instruction, and ultimately stimulate the development of a more integrated and friendly society.
Curriculum Design and Development
It is important to develop curricula in a way that they meet the academic and psychological needs of learners, facilitate the achievement of developmental objectives and goals, and support positive educational experiences. Therefore, my curriculum development plan would include the following stages:
- Analysis of learner needs,
- Development of curriculum structure
- Formulation of instructional aims and learning objectives,
- Identification of scope and depth,
- Alignment of goals with social and organizational requirements,
- Selection of major content topics,
- Content arrangement and sequence,
Preliminary analysis of learner needs is important as it helps to determine students’ qualifications, previous academic experiences, and personal characteristics including delays in cognitive development or learning disabilities. This stage of curriculum design is a perfect starting point because it helps to collect the basic information that lays the foundation for further curriculum design activities.
Then, I would identify course objectives and requirements because they prompt the selection of contents. In the second phase, I would set specific learning and instructional aims, formulate expected outcomes, and determine assessment standards. The completion of the given step largely facilitates the alignment of curriculum content with broader organizational or social requirements, principles, and values. It helps to adjust individual students’ needs identified through preliminary analysis, and class academic objectives (e.g., competency development) with school initiatives for overall performance improvement or national standards.
After this, it is possible to choose main content topics that would define the overall course orientation; the nature of knowledge, and skills. At this stage of curriculum development, it is already clear enough what types of activities and learning practices should be included in the course in order to fulfill the desired goals. When the major contents are selected, it is important to arrange them in a proper manner to ensure the knowledge would be delivered consistently and in the right sequence.
Lastly, it is important to evaluate the designed curriculum in multiple dimensions. This phase helps to verify if there are a sufficient balance and cohesion between different curriculum components, whether it is diversified enough or constructed according to all educational standards. The assessment allows finding mistakes that may impede success during curriculum implementation. Therefore, it is an essential activity in the design and development process as it makes a significant contribution to the overall effectiveness of a created curriculum.
I’ve made the plan in this way because, in my opinion, the sequence of these design steps is natural. By following the given plan, it is possible to accumulate necessary information in a gradual manner, cover multiple requirements and needs, and ensure that a developed curriculum will be efficient.
The 21st Century Skills
The framework for 21st Century Teaching and Learning outlines the knowledge and abilities students need to become successful members of society. The ideas described in the framework serve as the guidelines used by individual educators and schools to improve education systems and instructional practices. According to the 21st Century Learning model, students should develop skills in such areas of performance as technology, information, and media; innovation; and life and career.
Although all three of the mentioned knowledge dimensions are essential to productivity and self-efficiency in the present-day world, I think the innovation skills are the most important among all others. This category includes critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Since our society and markets are dynamically changing, a person needs to be flexible, responsive, and adaptive to overcome barriers and succeed in life. Innovation itself is a form of higher-order thinking which implies anticipation of demands, the advancement of current situations, and leadership. Innovation always triggers substantial positive changes in society. Therefore, the primary goal of any educator is the development of creativity, flexibility, and critical thinking in students.
In order to boost innovation and other important qualities in children, teachers need to understand how to meet the requirements imposed on individuals in the 21st century. Undoubtedly, schools should support student development through the provision of favorable environments, and support for the professional growth of teachers, as well as compliance with educational standards. However, the emphasis should be made on the manner educators arrange instruction or learning activities and communicate with students. It is important to understand that the education process does not imply a mere conveying of factual information. Nowadays, information continually changes and rapidly becomes obsolete. Moreover, students may access the necessary information sources without their teachers’ assistance at any time of the day. In this situation, the best thing a teacher can do is to raise students’ awareness of how to handle, share, and process any type of received information. In my opinion, a competent educator will always attempt to promote collaboration among classmates, stimulate self-expression, and encourage discussions on various topical issues and problems.
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It is essential to give students interesting yet challenging tasks that require collaboration and critical evaluation of events and phenomena. In the digital era, it is not enough just to locate and understand the information; the ability to evaluate, discuss and present personal ideas to various audiences is of greater value because these skills are regarded as signs of intelligence. I believe it is possible to develop higher-order thinking and innovation skills in students by engaging them in meaningful in motivating learning practices. When students are motivated to learn, they show a keen interest in voluntarily searching for knowledge and accomplishments. Thus, it may be useful to increase students’ learning autonomy and create more flexible classroom environments in order to achieve 21st-century goals in education.