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US Education | Curriculum

Introduction

Today, education plays an extremely important role in the life of the modern society and each individual. In fact, education opens larger job opportunities, whereas the lack of education threatens to the successful career of an individual. At the same time, the high educational level of the entire nation contributes to the faster economic development of any country, including such well-developed one as the US. Education contributes to the rise of the new generation of people who can generate new knowledge, introduce innovations and, thus, keep the economy progressing even in the time of scarce resources. In such a situation, the government attempts to maintain the development of education and to provide all citizens with equal education opportunities. In the US, such policies resulted in the development of public schools, which effectiveness though is criticized by many specialists (). In this respect, specialists often underestimate the significance of curriculum and curriculum design and their impact on the quality of education. In actuality, the use of effective approaches to curriculum along with the effective management of curriculum and schools as well as other educational establishments can contribute to the consistent improvement of the quality of education. The development of an effective approach to curriculum and effective curriculum design are essential for closing achievement gaps between students, which persist today. The achievement gaps are one of the major problems of the modern education because, in spite of all the efforts of educators, achievements of students vary consistently putting some students into disadvantaged position because of poor academic performance, whereas others become leaders due to their academic successes. In such a context, the elimination of the achievement gaps is one of the major strategic goals of the modern curriculum and curriculum design.

Approaches to curriculum design

On analyzing the current situation in education, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the development of the modern education is characterized by the widening gap between students in terms of their achievements as well as their access to education. In actuality, many students are deprived of a possibility to get education of the high quality. For instance, students studying at private schools get better education compared to students studying at public schools. At the same time, the achievement gaps is very significant even within public schools as well as private schools because educators fail to use the effective approach to curriculum that could enroll all students and provide all students with the possibility to realize their full potential and internal inclinations. In such a situation, many educators suffer from the lack of opportunities to implement effective approaches to curriculum because of the limited funds and poor management of schools. At the same time, the use of an individual approach to each student may help consistently to eliminate achievement gaps and help them to realize their potential. Therefore, curriculum design should focus on each student, his or her needs, inclinations and abilities. On the other hand, there is still no universal approach to curriculum and educators should choose the most effective curriculum design respectively to the environment and students they work with.

In the contemporary education, curriculum plays an extremely important role because it contributes to the development of efficient approaches to the process of learning and allows educators to optimize the learning process to meet needs of students and current development of science and society. However, educators still argue in regard to the approaches which can be applied to curriculum. In this respect, it should be said that many educators attempted to develop their own approaches which represent a combination of different approaches developed by specialists. At this point, it should be said that educators should have the opportunity to choose which approach to apply because they work in different environments and, therefore, different approaches can work a different degree of efficiency depending on the environment. Nevertheless, it is possible to speak about approaches which have already become fundamental to the modern education, such as the approach developed by Ralph Tyler. Even though Tyler’s approach is severely criticized by many educators, it is still widely applied in the modern education, although, modern educators tend to complement his approach by other approaches which minimize negative effects of those drawbacks that can be found in the Tyler’s approach to curriculum

On analyzing Ralph Tyler’s view on curriculum, it should be said that he viewed curriculum as a solid structure, which could function effectively, if all elements of the structure are clearly defined and properly organized. This is an extremely important idea in terms of Tyler’s approach to curriculum because it reveals the essence of his approach. To put it more precisely, Tyler attempted to create a system which could be really efficient and which can make curriculum quite universal. Naturally, in order to meet this goal and to make curriculum applicable in different environments, it was necessary to develop a very simple system. In this respect, it is obvious that a complex system would not work in a changing educational environment and under the impact of certain rigidity of Tyler’s approach.

Basically, Ralph Tyler stood on the ground that instructions should be delivered to students in a comprehensible form and he insisted that educators should avoid the use of very complex structures because he believed that they would not work efficiently. In such a context, he developed basic recommendations concerning instructions which educators should follow in order to achieve positive results in the learning process. In fact, Ralph Tyler recommended educators to focus primarily on the definition of goals the school should achieve. It proves beyond a doubt that the definition of goals of the school and curriculum are of the utmost importance because they laid the foundation to the entire structure of the curriculum. It should be said that the definition of goals is an important stages for the development of any plan or strategy and it is quite natural that Ralph Tyler recommended definition of goals to develop an efficient curriculum.

Furthermore, Ralph Tyler paid a lot of attention to learning experiences of educators as well as students. In actuality, this means that educators should use their own professional experience in regard to the development of curriculum and delivering instructions to students. In such a way, they could select the most efficient approaches and strategies that could be applied in a specific environment. At the same time, the learning experience of students is also of the utmost importance. In fact, educators cannot ignore the level of development of their students. In stark contrast, they should develop curriculum on the basis of the current educational level of their students since it is impossible to develop curriculum, which will make the learning process unbearable for students. The latter occurs when educators overestimate the educational level of their students and believe that their students have already reached a higher educational level than they actually do. Or, alternatively, educators should avoid underestimation of their students skills, abilities and learning development because this will make instructions and curriculum too simple for them and students will not be motivated to learn. At this point, it should be said that students need to overcome certain difficulties in the process of learning to keep being motivated. They naturally enjoy learning when they overcome difficulties and, while they do it, they get encouraged to learn more because they feel their success. The latter is particularly important for the learning process and it is impossible to succeed in learning if students are not confident in their own abilities.

On analyzing the existing learning experiences, Ralph Tyler suggested to work on the organization of effective instructions. In fact, educators should use the learning experience as the basis for effective organization of instructions. Basically, educators often use their past experience as well as the experience of their colleagues to improve instructions. In such a context, the recommendation given by Ralph Tyler seems to be quite logical. At the same time, Ralph Tyler insisted on the evaluation of the effectiveness of the learning experiences and their practical application to the curriculum. To put it more precisely, Ralph Tyler suggested to introduce an effective system of evaluation to define which learning experiences should be accepted and which denied. In this respect, the analysis of learning experiences by teachers is particularly important because it is possible to evaluate learning experiences when a large database is collected concerning existing learning experiences. It is also worth mentioning the fact that it is educators who should be responsible for the evaluation of the learning experience, but often, they forget about it. In fact, many educators believe that they can use one and the same approach or system in different classes. In actuality, such a view is erroneous and educators need to develop original approach to each class.

In this respect, Ralph Tyler goes even further in his theoretical developments on curriculum. To put it more precisely, Ralph Tyler argues that it is necessary to find an individual approach to each student in order to meet his or her current needs and academic level. Obviously, all students are different, but, in terms of Ralph Tyler approach, it is quite difficult to find an individual approach to each student. In actuality, Ralph Tyler tends to the development of a system, curriculum which could work perfectly well in different situations, in different classrooms. This is why he provides the general recommendations on the development of curriculum, but he avoids focusing on specific details of curriculum. In this respect, he relies on educators, who should use their learning experience and existing developments, to develop a truly efficient curriculum that meets current educational requirements and needs of students.

In such a way, the proper organization and structure of curriculum proved to be of the utmost importance for Ralph Tyler. However, his approach is often criticized because it leads to the formation of quite rigid systems and structures which cannot be always applied. Moreover, the implementation of the individual approach to each student, which Ralph Tyler believed to be very important, becomes practically impossible in case of the precise implementation of his approach to curriculum. On the other hand, it is necessary to recognize a consistent advancement of teacher training theories and views on curriculum, due to theoretical developments of Ralph Tyler. The remarkable feature of his work is numerous references to practical examples which are very important for understanding the approach can be applied in real life situations.

On analyzing practical implementation of Tyler’s curriculum, it should be said that teachers should perform the role of guides for students, while students should be active participants of the learning process. In other words, teachers and students should interact and students should develop their learning skills and abilities, they should learn how to learn and get information they need independently of teachers. However, the latter does not mean the teachers are unimportant. In fact, they should help students, but not lecturing them giving information they have to learn. Instead, they should give students instruments, indicate directions in which students should move to get the information they need.

For instance, this curriculum can applied in terms of problem solving or when students are working on some projects. For instance, a teacher sets a task to research a specific period in the history of the USA. Students are divided into several groups which are working on the specific project on a historical period. The teacher should help students to organize the group work, which should comprise students performing different roles: a leader, a researcher, a speaker, an editor, and so on, depending on the amount of students in the group. In such a way, students conduct their own research, while the teacher can consult them if they need his or her assistance on certain issues related to the subject of their research and its presentation.

As for the parents, they should also assist their students, but they should remember that students need to feel their support. At the same time, parents should not replace educators and introduce their own curriculum, criticizing and rejecting the approaches used by teachers at school. In this respect, it is important to remember that it is possible to distinguish family and school education. According to Tyler, education is a complex process which involves the interaction between teachers, school administration, which maintains relationships between school, parents and community. Hence, the entire community should be involved in the process of learning and students will be more concerned with their learning if they feel the pressure of the community and encouragement from the part of their environment.

The role of administrators in curriculum design

Basically, this standard is one of the cornerstones of all of the standards because it implies that a professional administrator should perfectly understand the existing teaching standards and be able to apply them in practice. What is meant here is the fact that any school has particular standards, in this case, the teacher standards under s. PI 34.02. It is supposed that these standards define the work of the personnel of the school and school life at large and it is in terms of this standard education professionals should base their educational programs, plans and work. It is necessary to underline that a school administrator should pay even more attention to these standards than any other member of the school staff because he/she is responsible for the normal functioning of school, normal work of teachers, and effective learning process for children. This is why he needs the deep understanding of the existing standards in order to be able to convey the essence of these standards to any member of the staff.

It proves beyond a doubt that often some standards may be misinterpreted and, in such a situation, it is the administrator who should clarify the essence of the standards and convince the personnel in the proper interpretation of the standards in order to avoid ambiguity in relation to them. Otherwise, even the best standards would be ineffective.

On the other hand, knowledge of standards alone is almost useless if the administrator does not really know how to apply them in practice. This is why the administrator should personally demonstrate how the established standards should be applied and that misuse or misinterpretation of standards is not acceptable within the particular school.

It is not a secret that the administrator is, or at least should be, the leader of the school. This means that the administrator should possess leadership qualities that will unite people, the personnel as well as students, around him. This will allow to the administrator to lead the school in the desirable direction contributing to the progress of students and improvement of the qualification and professional level of teachers.

At the same time, it is obvious that the personal qualities of the administrator solely can hardly be effective. At any rate, the administrator can unite people and even force them to move in the desirable direction due to his/her personal qualities but this will last as long as his authority is unarguable. In this respect, the method of conviction of the personnel to move in the direction suggested by the administrator or, to put it more precisely, in the chosen direction that will lead to the best results, is more effective than authoritarian approaches of the administrator-leader.

In fact, the leadership of the administrator should be based on his/her ability to develop, articulate, implement and steward the definite vision of learning which should be shared by all the school community. What is mean here is the fact that the administrator should create a particular vision of learning. To make it more acceptable for the school community it is necessary to involve teachers or even students in the development of this vision of the ideal learning. After that the administrator should gather basic ideas and suggestions and word-in the clear vision of the learning. In other words, the learning should be postulated in a clear thesis or slogan comprehensible to and acceptable by the school community. Further, it is necessary to implement this vision in practice, i.e. start practical steps to its realization. Finally, the administrator should control and guide the process of implementation and pay attention to the reaction of the school community to the defined vision of learning and, if necessary, make corrections of the vision or ways of its achievement.

In addition to leadership, the administrator should also be an effective manager that can make the school community work effectively to achieve defined goals and vision of learning. In this respect, it should be said that the school should have a clearly defined and accepted by the school community program or plan of its development, some basic norms and standards of learning and work. In such a situation, the role of the administrator is to guarantee that the existing instructional program and school culture will persist, regardless possible problems the school may face.

To put it more precisely, a school culture and instructional program should be the cornerstone of the progress of students and teachers since they contribute to the successful learning of students and professional growth of teachers. However, without the assistance of the administrator this process would be chaotic and unregulated that will lead to the destruction of the school culture and failure of the instructional program. The reason is obvious – teachers as well as student have their own vision of the school culture and may have different attitude to the instructional program. This is why if there is no guidance or assistance from the part of the administrator each teacher and student attempts to act according to his vision and perception of the school culture and instructional program.

Consequently, in order to prevent destructive processes and stimulate professional growth of teachers and academic successes of students the administrator should protect, inspire and maintain the existing school traditions and standards, which shape the school culture, and the instructional program which actually give the practical ways for the achievement of positive academic successes of students and professional development of teachers.

Obviously, the effective learning process may be provided only on the condition of the effective functioning of a school as an organization. As any other organization, a school has its own material basis which should function properly. Otherwise, the normal learning process as well as the functioning of the school at large will be ruined. This is why the administrator should provide the stable and effective functioning of the school as an organization at large but not as a place where students learn.

In other words, the administrator should focus on the purely administrative problems regardless the educational process in the sense that administrative problems, such as the lack f funds, poor organization of learning process, interaction between the school and community, etc. should not interfere in the learning process or deteriorate its quality.

In fact, the stable organizational culture, positive organizational atmosphere, stable financing determine, to a significant extent, the successful learning process. It is necessary to underline that the effective management of operations, organization, and the effective use of finance and resources of the school are of a paramount importance for the creation of the positive learning environment.

Practically, this means that the administrator should create normal conditions of the functioning of the school in order to prevent financial or organizational problems from interference in the learning process. In fact, it is possible to say that the more effectively the functioning of the school as an administrative unit is organized the more effective and safe is the learning process.

The interaction of the school with the local community and families of students are extremely important because it is impossible to educate students regardless their social and family background. Ideally, it is not only the administrator but also teachers should actively collaborate with families and community members in order to know the background of their students and react adequately on their behavior and, what is more, this will help them make the learning process meet the interests and needs of each student.

In fact, the learning process will be absolutely ineffective if the school and the school administrator ignores the family and community of students because, in such a situation, students may simply face two different worlds the school and their family or neighborhood where there are different standards, norms, and morals. This is why in order to increase the effectiveness of learning the administrator should create conditions for the effective collaboration of the school and the local community.

In this respect, the personal collaboration of the administrator with families and community members of students may be very effective since it will help the administrator to understand better socio-cultural environment of students and, therefore, define clearly the most burning needs of students and organize the learning process that would meet their interests. At the same time, the collaboration of the administrator and families and community members is not a one-sided process. In respond to the administrator’s collaboration, families and community members can assist to the administrator and the school to overcome some problems, such as crime among juveniles, for instance. Thus, the administrator’s collaboration with families and community members may be mutually beneficial.

In general, administrator, to a significant extent, shapes the image of the school. This is why it is very important that he personified all the positive qualities an ideal school and its personnel should possess. In fact, the administrator, being the high authority in the school, is viewed as a sample. This is why immoral or unpredictable behavior of the administrator is absolutely unacceptable. In stark contrast, the administrator should constitute an essential part of the school life, of the school family. It is even possible to compare the administrator to the father or the mother in a family who is supposed to be a kind of ideal image all children would like to resemble. At any rate, the administrator should be open in his/her relationships with colleagues and students, as well as their parents, he/she cannot lie and be a really moral person because the violation of moral or ethical norms by the administrator undermines the authority of the entire school for the public and children.

Consequently, the administrator should fully meet the ideal image the pubic has in relation to the school at large. It proves beyond a doubt that the school cannot develop in isolation from complicated political, socio-economic, legal, and cultural processes that take place in a community on in the entire country. This means that the school is highly dependent on its environment and may be affected by it dramatically. This is why the administrator should have deep knowledge of all political, social, economic, legal, and cultural trends that take place in community and the country. At the same time, the administrator should adequately react on the changes in the environment in order to minimize possible negative effects or, in contrast, improve positive impact of external influences. For instance, after September 11, the entire nation suffered from a great stress and in such situations the administrator should properly react to such tragedies and encourage students and teachers to carry on learning and teaching.

Conclusion

Thus, in conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that Ralph Tyler was conscious of the importance of curriculum. This is why he recommended defining objectives of the curriculum and use of learning experience to shape an efficient and reliable system that can be applied to curriculum. In such a way, educators can use their experience to improve curriculum and make it efficient. In such a way, the choice of the effective approach to curriculum should depend on the environment, students, and community in which a school functions. At the same time, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the curriculum design should stimulate the personal development of each student and focus on the individual approach to each student that helps educators to reveal the full potential of students and to help them to realize their internal inclinations. In addition, the role of the management and effective work of administrators can hardly be underestimated because the effective management of schools and other education establishments contributes to the formation of positive organizational culture, development of positive interpersonal relationships between the personnel and students, and to the formation of close and effective relationships between educators and the local community. In actuality, the development of effective management affects consistently curriculum because poor management can ruin even the best curriculum, whereas effective management helps educators to develop curriculum that closes gaps between students in their achievement and allows them to realize their full potential.

 

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