Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Just Confusing, Isn't IT!? -- "Curriculum War!"

Wow, this crossed my email inbox this morning in an email from Education Week:

Backers of '21st-Century Skills' Take Flak

and I'd highly recommend a careful read. It's about time that one written piece describes the debate surrounding curriculum reform and does so with balance and thought-provoking comprehensiveness. I so wish I'd been at the lively and heated panel discussion that the article outlines.

A sample from the debate, which featured "experts" (I detest that word, but
it's convention to refer to experienced players that way) on teaching and
learning:

For instance, Mr. (Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville) Willingham said, a teacher leading a whole classroom-based discussion of Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger can largely control themed discussions. A project-based setting allowing small groups to explore different ideas might give students a chance to examine a diverse, richer set of subtexts—such as the history of existentialist thought or colonization in 1930s Algeria—but it also forces teachers to make many more snap judgments about how to guide students, provide resources on topics with which they may be unfamiliar, and ensure students are on task. “There’s a reason teachers have been taught for 75 years to do projects and they don’t do them,” he said.

Do you agree with another educator at the event? “We are stuck,” Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, said in an interview. “We’ve been having this curriculum war for years.”

Go read. Weigh in.

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