The Curriculum Spiderweb

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As curriculum is advanced, we routinely hunt down a plethora of useful metaphors and analogies to make sense of it.

And so, lately curriculum has not too long ago been described with a mess of metaphors, comparable to a boxset (extra Sport of Thrones than the Simpsons), a voyage of exploration, or curriculum as narrative.

Every metaphor has explanatory worth and helps carry some concreteness to what can too typically show a obscure subject that’s topic to contradictory theories and assumptions. Maybe my favorite metaphor, outdoors of these already talked about, from the curriculum idea of Jan van den Akker, is the ‘curriculum spiderweb‘.

The metaphor is apt primarily as a result of a spiderweb is so intricately woven and interconnected, similar to curriculum improvement. Finished nicely, it’s a lovely outcome borne of effort and ability; nevertheless, just like the pure spiderweb, it is usually weak, and its intricacies (subtleties of section and topic, maybe) can too simply be swept away by extra highly effective forces.

Van den Akker particularly marks out totally different aspects of curriculum improvement and implementation in his spiderweb:

Jan van den Akker, Curriculum Landscapes and Developments (2003)

Although it may be useful to restrict notions of curriculum to the ‘what’ of the data and abilities which are to be taught, it doesn’t embody many significant associated parts that decide how such curriculum improvement is carried out within the classroom. Van den Akker will get us asking extra questions of curriculum, revealing extra interconnected threads of the spiderweb.

Exploring the threads of the curriculum spiderweb

Van den Akker specifies ten key parts to curriculum improvement. These embrace a consideration of the values and ideas that drive our curriculum selections (the ‘rationale’ – or ‘intent’ in OFSTED parlance). Additionally, there are extra broad organisational components which are recognized as essential to our curriculum design, comparable to ‘time’ and ‘location’.

Van den Akker will get us to think about the substantive curriculum questions. And so, by way of ‘time’, we’re left with difficult sensible questions, comparable to: how a lot time ought to be allotted to topic X in secondary college, or studying time within the main college day? Are there financially pushed timetable fashions in secondary that affect time? Totally different topics will little question compete for curriculum time, with college leaders needing to know the ‘content material’ of the curriculum in nice depth.

A consideration of ‘location’ is essentially thought-about extraneous to the substance of curriculum. Nonetheless, a main college contemplating their use of forest college, or the varsity library, would absolutely beg to vary. Certainly, secondary colleges little question assume exhausting about how nicely pupils study at house. Homework proves inextricably linked to how nicely we are able to implement the curriculum. For these secondary college topics fearful about curriculum ‘time’ – comparable to science and historical past (and extra!) – then homework turns into but extra urgent.

Evaluation’ is the vital bedfellow of curriculum, but how nicely are we adapting our current evaluation techniques as we shift the enacted curriculum? Colleges have seen inner knowledge assessments roundly critiqued, however enticing and manageable options to current knowledge techniques have confirmed much less widespread. Does our inner evaluation mannequin match the calls for of the curriculum change and the need to speak progress to oldsters and governors and so on?

I’m not certain whether or not van den Akker has recognized the ‘proper’ ten parts of curriculum improvement (I’d substitute ‘trainer position’ for ‘trainer improvement’ for a begin), however the worth of the metaphor is that it precisely represents the interconnectedness and multi-facetedness of curriculum improvement.

If it was merely a case of senior leaders getting out the best way and tweaking the sequencing of curriculum content material, then curriculum improvement can be a a lot merely, simpler difficulty. It isn’t. The gorgeous complexity of the spiderweb captures among the issue and rewards that we are able to achieve from a concentrate on curriculum change.


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