ECS 210

Curriculum as Public Policy

According to the Levin article, how are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? 

According to Levin (2008), policies govern just about everything in society including education; and politics and policy go hand in hand. This can be a concerning idea, as Levin (2008) states, “in every setting, from classroom to country, political influence is usually highly unequal, and those who have the least status tend also to have the least influence on political decision making” (p. 8). This information concerns me and surprises me as the people who have “the least status” are typically the students, teachers, and families, and according to the information in the article, those groups of people would not have a lot of say in the development of curriculum. 

I did not realize how political curriculum and education are. Levin (2008) states, “every education policy decision can be seen as being in some sense, a political decision” (p. 8). This is concerning as voter interests drive everything in politics, therefore, education policies may not be made in the best interest of the students and teachers, but in what the popular ideas are for the voters. With this, what the voters believe to be true may be more important that what is actually true (Levin, 2008). 

In most jurisdictions, the authority over curriculum is with the national or subnational governments, but in most settings, schools themselves have some say (Levin, 2008). For example, schools may have a say in what subjects are offered, the time that is allotted to each class, what the curricular emphasis will be, and the areas of focus for professional development (Levin, 2008). In regard to who specifically has a say in curriculum development and curriculum reviews, Levin (2008) identifies a few groups of people. First, it is mentioned that main education stakeholders almost always are involved in curricular reviews and decisions. Additionally, subject matter experts normally play a large roll. It is also noted that post-secondary institutions have a large say in the curricular content as they decide what the entrance criteria is for their institution; as well as leaders in subject areas or in the work force may put pressure on certain subjects being taught in schools. 

Something that stood out to me in the article is that when you have a group of experts creating the curriculum, it may be created in a way that is quite extensive. This could be a problem as teachers are generally not trained in every subject, or at least to the same extent in every subject. I could see this being a problem in schools, as the curriculum may become unusable for teachers. Also, if this was to be the case, formal curriculum may have a vague relationship to what is actually being taught in the classroom and learned by students (Levin, 2008). 

After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, what connections can you make between the article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan? What tensions might you imagine were part of the development of the Treaty Education curriculum?

After reading the Levin article, I realize that politics must have played a critical role in the development of the Treaty Ed curriculum and the policies around it, including the policy made in 2007 to make Treaty Education mandatory. In the Treaty Education document, I also noticed that there appeared to be many experts that developed this curriculum. 


From what I learned in the Levin article, I could see that there were probably some tensions between the general public (the voters) and the government in developing and implementing this mandatory curriculum. As the Levin article mentioned, the government is concerned with the perspectives of the voters, as they want to be re-elected in the future. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that I have met in the general public who have oppressive ideas about Treaty Education and inclusiveness in the classroom. I can definitely imagine that this was a dilemma for the government when developing the curriculum, as I’m sure they did not want to lose support from the public. 

Resources

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction (pp. 7 – 24). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.Available on-line from: http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/16905_Chapter_1.pdf.

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.edonline.sk.ca/bbcswebdav/library/materials/english/docs/Treaty%20Education%20Outcomes%20%26%20Indicators%20-%20Feb%2021%202013.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s