Politics in the Development of Curriculum
Ben Levin’s article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should Be Learned in School, is an important critical study of how schools are told to teach. I place an emphasize on the world “told” because schools have to appeal to a very specific class of people in order to exist. Schools and politics have been intertwined since the creation of the institution in our society because it is heavily influenced by and catered towards those with power. Public institutions are funded by those in charge of the federal government, who have to appease the privileged population in order to stay in power.
This article gave me a new perspective on the relationship between politics and the institution of schools. Although I knew they were connected because of the Ministry of Education, and the education related bills that passed through parliament, I had never stopped to think of what degree they were intertwined. Both are societal institutions that rely on those who have power to make the decisions, while marginalizing others. Schools are very political in how they are run, what the should teach, how they should teach these subjects. There is a power structure in every school, and that structure operates through politics.
Another aspect the article brought up that I found interesting, was the notion that everyone has experience with education and thus has an opinion on how it should work. When debating about school issues, there is much personal experience involved so tensions can run high. What has worked for some students in the classroom has not worked for others, and there are a lot of first-hand experience. This can turn into a highly passionate debate which can make it hard to find a middle ground between the political groups. Although those who hold more power, are more likely to be listened to. The number one priority of politicians who made decisions for the educational institution is to stay in power.
The curriculum development process is also convoluted by the extensive process to make them. Historically, development has involved a several years process in which multiple experts are consulted. However, there are growing concerns over who should be in charge of the development of curriculum. Critiques claim that expert-dominated curriculum development products will be something only people with a high level of expertise will be able to navigate. Thus, there is a gap between the theoretical curriculum and the relationships of students and teachers in a real classroom. Curriculum panels have been moving towards a greater impact on students real experience.
7 February 2019
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.