Curriculum Theory and Practice (Smith)

1. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted

This model focuses on the most effective way to deliver the knowledge to students. Its benefit is the familiarity to students when it comes to courses leading to exams. However, this model does not indicate the importance or order of the material to be studied as it is the traditional textbook approach. When educators choose to adapt this model, it is likely that they only focus on the content of knowledge.

2. Curriculum as product

This model is systematic and organized. One can clearly view the notion of outcome which makes organizing the content and method easy. Students can be evaluated based on their results or the products. On the other side, the restricted organization approach of this model limits students and educators in their learning/teaching experience. Students are told exactly what they are supposed to do which limits the opportunity for classroom interactions. As a result, both the students and the educators may not realize the importance of learning that is the result of interactions.

3. Curriculum as process

This model views curriculum as the classroom interaction rather than a physical thing. This model does not provide a series of materials or syllabus to be taught; it is an attempt or experiment in classrooms. Students have a clear voice in this environment because the focus is on learning, not teaching, due to the emphasis on interactions. However, there is a limit to variation of this approach as many students and their parents prioritize performance on exams as success of the course.

4. Curriculum as praxis

This model is based on the process model but further focuses on emancipation. The curriculum is developed through the interaction of action and reflection as students and educators go through a process of negotiation and recognition of problems. During this process, students face the problems of their existence and will face their own oppression.

In my experience, curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted was the most prominent one. For many classes that I had in high school, the teachers made sure that we were on track with the curriculum because we had to learn everything as planned in each semester. This model helped us prepare for exams but did not allow much creativity and classroom interactions.  

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Curriculum theory and practice

1. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted

2. Curriculum as product

3. Curriculum as process

4. Curriculum as praxis

Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted:

This model is a textbook style of approach which can be beneficial as it can be a reference to easier understanding and familiarity. This model also informs the students with all the expectations of the courses leading to exams. Some drawbacks are that this model does not indicate the importance or order of the material that is being studied. Also, this model is mostly based on content rather than theory. 

Curriculum as product:

This curriculum is set on behaviour objectives. This theory was “strongly influenced by the development of management thinking and practice” (Smith 2000). This approach can be found in many training programs where certain tasks and jobs are being evaluated. In other words this approach is how to make students become the most efficient workers in the workforce. Its main goal is to prepare students for the workforce which is beneficial. Some drawbacks are some programmes “inevitably exist prior to and outside the learning experiences”. This can lead to students feeling discouraged. As said in the article it “turns educators into technicians” (Smith 2000).

Curriculum as process

Curriculum as a process is the interaction between students and teachers. It is “what happens in a classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate” (Smith 2000).  The interaction between the students and the teachers is beneficial to the students learning. Some drawbacks are that it could be hard for teachers to change every lesson according to the students needs. Another drawback would be there might not be a lot of structure for the students that need that in order to help benefit their learning. 

Curriculum as praxis

The curriculum of praxis is quite similar to the curriculum of process. Just like the curriculum of process the curriculum as praxis is about the interaction between students and teachers and what the teachers are teaching. It is also how teachers could improve their way of teacher and to know when some changes may need to be made.The curriculum is there to guide you as a teacher but teachers can alter it if need be. This method views the classroom as a group rather than each student as an individual. 

My educational experience:

In my educational experience I experienced the first curriculum style which is curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted. For instance, in high school  most of my classes that had very specific content, dates and memorization such as math, science and history were taught using this method. We were expected to memorize dates that we learned in the lectures and therefore applied it to the exams at the end based on how well we memorized the information. A benefit from this style was that from the beginning of the semester we were aware and familiar with the course expectations and assignments leading to examinations.

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Reading Response: Common Sense

How does Kumashiro describe “common sense”?

Kumashiro describes “common sense” as teaching be a style of lecture- practice- exam approach to education. This is how teaching should be, it is the “normal” way of doing so. Kumashiro also explained how “common sense” can often make educators not aware of other styles and alternatives of teaching. Common sense tells us what school should be doing instead of what schools could be doing and different teaching methods that could be implemented. Common sense is all about what society considers “normal” and what is expected by social norms. Common sense can mean something different depending on your environment and culture.

Why is it important to pay attention to “common sense”?

It is important to pay attention to “common sense” as we need to be aware of the difference of cultures and customs to  teach students in ways that relate to their own personal needs. This means instead of being stuck on our own ideas of “common sense” and what is “normal”. It is important to think outside the box and expand our knowledge.

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Four models of curriculum.

As Smith outlines in is work on curriculum theory and practice four models of curriculum.

  1. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted.
  2. Curriculum as a product
  3. Curriculum as a process
  4. Curriculum as a praxis.

Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted.

When it comes to the curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted; there are good and not so good points for this model.  This model is often presented as a textbook style and this can be useful because it allows for easy understanding and the use of familiarity and easy navigation.

However, this model does not indicate the importance or order for the material to be studied.  Treating the curriculum as a syllabus causes the only concern to be with content and not the theory around the idea of curriculum.   Planning from this model only includes content or a particular body of knowledge that the teachers wish to use.

Curriculum as a product.

For this model, the curriculum is seen as setting behavioral objectives.

With the product being the end, careful planning is put into creating good quality material.  It also allows for organizing power in clear concise way for better understanding.

However, this model seems very focused on one particular thing and that is to prepare students for the workforce; the skilled labor rather than having a broader purpose.  Furthermore, there is no social vision or guiding principles that would allow for deeper thinking and better construction and creation of a curriculum.  As outlined in the article with this model the students are told: “what they must learn and how they will do it” (Smith 2000).   The point that I have the most issue with is the fact that a product model causes success or failure is determined by a students ability to make predetermined changes in there learning or improvements.

Curriculum as a process. 

Smith explains that the curriculum as a process involves the interaction between teachers, students, and knowledge in the classroom to make a better learning environment.  I understand this process as to what happens in the classroom as far as instruction go.  This process helps to predict what will happen in the future.

This process allows for more teacher-student interaction thus giving the students a voice that they would not otherwise.   The downside to this is that the responsibility falls on the teacher to do a good job teaching and cultivating wisdom.  Most teachers I find to be more than competent in their job of being a help to students.

Curriculum as praxis. 

This model is a further development of the process model.  This model allows both teacher and student to dive deeper and consult other issues that explain their existence.  Thus facing them with their own oppression.   Smith explains that teachers have personal but shared ideas of good.   Furthermore, Smith explains that the praxis develops through the dynamic interactions of action and reflection that leads to a collective understanding.

My schooling experiences: 

As far as my own schooling was concerned, the model that was most prominent was a mixture of product and process.  My teachers worked to use the curriculum as a guide to teaching us what we need to know.   the students were also held to a standard that was the standard that a pass or fail was determined from.

Furthermore, most of my teachers tried there best to make time for one on one interactions to help their students.  I trusted my teachers to make the best decisions for me and other students.  Which is a characteristic of the curriculum as a process.

These models made for an excellent work environment and fostered a safe accepting classroom.  However, this environment did not allow for much critical thinking, although I had teachers tried it never got anywhere because an effort was not made to foster deep critical thinking.  However, there is always room for improvement and as a teacher, I will try to advance this work and implementing it into the classroom.




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Curriculum Theory and Practice – Smith Article

In Smith’s article, “Curriculum Theory and Practice” he focuses on four different models of curriculum that have been seen in schools historically, as well as in today’s world. The four models are curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted, curriculum as a product, curriculum as a process, and curriculum as praxis. 

  1. The first model of curriculum is, curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted. This model has some flaws to it, specifically around the idea of teaching based on the syllabus. Smith states that most of the time a syllabus does not usually display the importance of the topics being studied or in which order they are going to be studied. An approach focused around the syllabus is only concerned with content, when overall “curriculum is a body of knowledge-content and/or subjects” (Smith, p.3).
  2. The second model is, curriculum as a product. It is produced around the idea of having the objectives set, a plan laid out, and then the product being tested and measures. This model really focused on the efficiency movement. People wanted to figure out how they could educate students to become more efficient workers when working in labor oriented jobs. Smith states that something that was highly liked about this model was that it was believed to teach people exactly what they needed to know to work and live their lives. Another attraction Smith talks about is how this model had great organizing power. This model became more and more unpopular during the 1900’s, due to the fact that child-centred approaches became more popular. One major issue with this model is that it “takes much away from the learners. They can end up with little or no voice. They are told what they must learn and how they will do it” (Smith, p.4). Another issue Smith states in this model is there can be unknown results. With pre drawn out goals it may brush over any extra learning that occurs as a result of interaction, but is not listed as an end goal. 
  3. The third model is curriculum as a product. In this approach curriculum looks at the interactions between teachers, student and knowledge. It is a more hands on view of what truly goes on in the classroom as well as what teachers and students do to prepare and evaluate. It views curriculum as active, on going, and a process. Smith talks about some key differences between this model and those stated previously include, that objectives and the final outcome is not the central idea of the model, learners have a voice and are not viewed as objects, it is unique to each and every classroom. However, Smith also discusses some down falls to this model as well. The flaws include, it is a problem when educators want more unity and uniform in what is being taught between different classrooms. Another flaw is that it may not focus enough on the context in which learning happens.
  4. The fourth model is curriculum as praxis. This model is a development of the third model. The praxis model focuses on human well-being and the freedom of human spirit. Smith states this model plays close attention to emancipation. In this model curriculum develops through the interaction of action and reflection. Smith explains that in this model teachers enter the classroom with an ability to think critically, an understanding of their role and continually evaluate the process. 

In my own schooling and learning I would say pretty much all of the models have been used depending on the class that I was in, as well as the teacher that I had. In some of my math classes as well as history classes the models, curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted as well as curriculum as a product were the main models due to the fact that they were very informational dense and were quite ordered classes. We ultimately learned the information in some of the classes to write and pass the final exam. However, in some of my other classes it was very much focused on people as a whole and benefiting the individual student and the process of learning rather than the final destination. 

The third and fourth models made it possible for each individual to succeed a bit more since it was more focused on the process and expansion of learning. They provided more assignment to show understanding of knowledge as you went in the class. As well as the more syllabus and end goal based models made it possible to have a better understanding of what was expected in the end in order to succeed. The first and second model had more of a focus on testing and reaching the end goal. All four of the models have both pros and cons and different individuals prefer different models. 

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Reading Response: Curriculum Theory and Practice

  1. Curriculum as a Syllabus to be Transmitted – This is the outline of what students should be learning in the classroom and it is provided by the government. The article states this would usually be transferred to the student teaching right out of a textbook. This is a very structured way of learning, it follows a logical order and it is beneficial to many students as long as they have no missed learning something in the past. This also means this may be easier for a teacher to teach this way with everything just coming straight out of a book. This curriculum does not work for all students, some need extras, and not all students function at the same rate, and understand things at their own pace.
  2. Curriculum as a Product – The article states that this is the way of learning “Objectives are set, a plan drawn up, then applied, and the outcomes” (Outcome = Projects) this has both benefits and drawbacks. There is not a lot of room for movement within the classroom and the learning experience, especially for children in the classroom that may struggle with concepts or who cannot keep up with other students within the classroom. This is not the most flexible way of teaching in the classroom, and even though there are many benefits to teaching this way, it seems to be something that teachers are starting to move away from. 
  3. Curriculum as Process – In this model the attention moves from teaching to learning, this is very helpful to children as are learning new things. “Curriculum is not just a physical thing, but rather the interaction of teachers, students and knowledge.” this shows use that curriculum can be more than just laid out objectives it is also the actual learning that happens in the classroom along with how to prepare and evaluate. This Model shows it an active process where teachers and students can improve together. This model is beneficial to both teachers and students, and students will get a more round education. A drawback of teaching this way would be that there might not be a lot of structure for some students who may need it, and it would be hard for teachers to adapt and change every singe lesson they teach in school.
  4. . Curriculum as Praxis – This shows the constant evolution of teaching, it is develops through interaction and reflection, and it is a more informed way of teaching. this way of teaching allows for there to be change to help both teachers and students, follow and work in unison to from a better way of educating students. The drawbacks would be that this is extremely hard if you did not have students ready to engage in the subject matter, and to participate with in school.

In the small town where I grew up most of my teachers taught with the first two methods with all classes being structured and already laid out when the students came in the room. We knew what we were going to learn and their was only the teachers way of seeing and doing the questions, there was also very limited thinking outside the box.

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Reading Response: Common Sense

This article is very interesting, it provided a different way of looking at common sense, because common sense means something different depending on your environment, and culture. This teacher’s experience in a land that was foreign to them, and the difference between the education system she grew up in and the system she was now a part of. “Common Sense limits what is considered to be consistent with the purposes of schooling” they interfere with what is sometimes best for students. It is challenging to recognize the commonsensical because teacher is told what to teach and what not to teach in a curriculum. (we are told that is what students should be learning the important information. It is hard to refuse these ideas of common sense because it is what our whole world is based around. Anti-oppressive education is very important to help students and not have different thing interfere with in the education. It is very important to see common sense so that we can rise above it, not try to let it change the way teach. Teaching is not just about meeting the outcomes set by the government, it is about helping a student reach their full potential.

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Peaked my interest – Idea for Assignment 1

For the first assignment I have been drawn to the topic of Hip Hop curriculum. More so how Hip Hop culture could be used by schools and teachers to as a vehicle for [these] urban youth to develop and express their critical literacy skills which they [can] then transfer to other ‘literary texts”.

I have found a few article that are interesting and also looked and some new and documentary sites as a source of information.

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ECS 210

ECS 210 Explores topics surrounding curriculum within schools.  At first, I thought this class would be focusing on memorizing the components and logistics of curriculum, but I was pleased to find out that it is going to be so much more analytical!  The first lecture was interesting and exciting and I look forward to this semester!

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ECS 210- Smith

     The curriculum theory ‘curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted’ also referred to as ‘the canon’, explains that the curriculum and the syllabus is seen as equivalent by many people. It goes on to say that it is very heavy on focusing how to transmit the knowledge in the most effective way possible. A drawback attached to this theory is that it is laid out in a way that doesn’t show the importance or the order it should be taught in. This theory is limiting because it suppresses the students and their ability in studying something they are interested in because it is not in the syllabus/curriculum. 

     To understand the curriculum as a product theory, I related it to an assembly line. The curriculum is given, a lesson is manufactured, the lesson is applied, then the knowledge taken away is ‘quality tested’ or measured to see if it was understood. A benefit to this theory could be that it assists a child later in life. In the article it said that this theory’s greatest draw is that it is supposed to help a child work and live productive lives in the future. Towards the end of the section it says that students could feel like they have no say in their education, because they are told what to do then they are graded based on whether or not they were able to learn it. This flaw is something that has a huge impact on the students future in learning, because this feeling is not enjoyable. Another flaw in this theory is that it focuses heavily on tests and it suggests that in order to succeed, there is only on path to education. 

     In the section studying the theory ‘curriculum as a process’ explains that this technique is an interactive one. It stresses the impact the teacher has in the classroom and encourages the teacher to play an active role in class. In this theory, I think that there are plenty of positive outcomes that can come from this theory. For example, I think that it could create a stronger bond between the student and teacher allowing for more learning opportunities. This approach supports the idea that education should happen naturally.

     After the reading, I realized that the theory curriculum as a praxis works hand in hand with curriculum as a process. This view on curriculum suggests that curriculum is always changing and that it is something that needs to be examined. In doing this, curriculum is always fluctuating and can be adjusted to meet different needs. It is interesting to me that in this theory, curriculum isn’t enforced so strongly but it is more of an outline/framework. I think that this theory has the downfall of grouping the class as one rather than adjusting to an individual student. 

    In my education journey, I believe that many (but not all) teachers I encountered could feel the pressure by the Ministry to follow the curriculum closely. Whenever someone would ask my teacher, “Why do we have to learn this?” my teacher would often say “because it’s in the curriculum”. This answer had always bothered me because I felt like what I was learning wasn’t interesting or important. As a student I felt very pressured to learn at a quick rate in order to learn everything we are expected to know for the grade above us. I think the theories that were most prominent in my education was curriculum as a product and knowledge is to be transmitted. These theories focus more on the amount of curriculum a teacher could push onto the class in the school year. This makes it a lot more difficult to incorporate fun and interactive ways of learning because of a time crunch. For instance, most of my science classes were taught directly out of the textbook. We had little interaction with our teachers during the subject, and many times I had to teach myself at home. In saying this, it doesn’t mean that having fun is impossible but more stressful for the teacher.

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