K-12 Curriculum and Instruction: Changing Paradigms in the 21st Century
This is not your grandfathers' economy or his educational paradigm however; today's curriculum still appears as such and therein lays a very significant and challenging problem that presents to today's educators and leaders. According to Sir Ken Robinson, "We have a system of education that is modeled on the interest of industrialism and in the image of it. Schools are still pretty much organized on factory lines -- ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches." (Brain Pickings, 2012) Make no mistake in the opinion of Robinson who believes that divergent thinking most emphatically is not "…the same thing as creativity" because according to Robinson in his work proposing a new educational paradigm. Indeed this is also spoken of in the work of Zeng-tian and Yu-Le in their work "Some Thoughts on Emergent Curriculum" presented at the Forum for Integrated Education and Educational Reform (2004). The emergent curriculum has as its focus the "dialogue and cooperation on the basis of emergentism" stated to be representative of the "basic characteristics of the curriculum development and major direction in the future. It is the product of the critical reflection of the predefined curriculum, the objective demand of constructivist conceptions of knowledge and the basic content of curriculum returning back to the life-world." (Zeng-tian and Yu-Le, 2004)
The Oxford English Dictionary states that curriculum is "specifically a regular course of study or training, as at school or university." (Clandinin and Connelly, 1992) This is a simplistic definition however, the "idea of curriculum is every changing." In order to understand precisely what curriculum is the understanding of the historical context and development journey of the curriculum. It is held by post-modernists that there should be flexibility in the curriculum allowing for planning throughout a course of study and that this planning should take place cooperatively between students and teachers focused on the benefit of students. (Doll, 1993, paraphrased) Schwab (1998) held that there should be a balance found and that this balance should be between: (1) subject matter; (2) learners; (3) the milieus; (4) teachers; and (5) curriculum making and that failure to coordinate between these would mean an imbalanced curriculum that would result in harming education in its entirety.
III. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to examine the present day curriculum and how it aligns to the needs of students or alternatively, fails to align to the needs of students, in the area of meeting the actual needs in knowledge and skills for students to enter into the 'real world' after their educational endeavors. In other words, this study will attempt to gauge how well today's curriculum serves to enhance the future endeavors of students as they aspire to enter the workforce.
IV. Significance of the Study
The significance of the study is the knowledge that will emerge from the study and that will be available for application in the area of curriculum development and reform.
V. Research Questions
Research questions in the researched proposed in this study includes the following stated questions:
1. Does the present curriculum meet the needs of students following graduation?
2. Where does the curriculum fail to meet the needs of students in regards to entering the workforce?
3. What framework should any new and untraditional curriculum be constructed upon in terms of outcomes for students?
VI. Literature Review
The work of Emergy, Braselmann, and Gold (1964) states that the relationship between jobs and education is quite clear. The threat of automation on the uneducated and unskilled is clear. IN an age of specialization nd skill, nobody wants an illiterate." At the time that this report was written there was a high rate of illiteracy among black individuals in the Southern U.S. states and these individuals were at risk socioeconomically because their education and skills were lacking to meet the demands of employers. Because of this there were high levels of poverty among the black race as well as among individuals of the white race who lived in poverty conditions. These conditions were exacerbated by the fact that these individuals were not on the receiving end of education that prepared them to enter the workforce. It is noted in the study that the plantation economy had at that times moved into the 20th Century industrial world and how individuals in the South, due to ineffective education and training, had been left behind the progress of the industrial age. Indeed, the time has come again according to many researchers for another shift in paradigms in the area of curriculum development. According to Sir Ken Robinson, every country in the world is presently in the midst of a reform of public education and there are two reasons for this:
(1) The first is economic; and (2) The second is cultural. (2011)
Robinson states in regards to the economical reason that "people are trying to work out, how do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century. How do we do that? Even though we can't anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week. As the recent turmoil has demonstrated. How do you do that?" (2011) In regards to the second reason or that of the cultural concerns Robison states "Every country on earth is trying to figure out how do we educate our children so they have a sense of cultural identity, so that we can pass on the cultural genes of our communities. While being part of the process globalization, how do you square that circle?" (Robinson, 2011) The problem, according to Robinson is "they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past. And on the way they are alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school." (2011) Robinson relates that in the past, if a student attended school every day and then worked hard and attained a college degree then the outcome was certain in that the individual was assured a job. That is simply not the case anymore as "You are better having a degree than not, but it's not a guarantee anymore. And particularly not if the route to it marginalizes most of the things that you think are important about yourself." (2011)
The problem according to Robinson with today's educational system is that the current educational system "…was designed and conceived and structured for a different age…" and stated to have been conceived "…in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. " (2011) Prior to the middle of the nineteenth century, Robison notes that there were not public educational systems because people objected to it on the basis that "…it's not possible for many street kids working class children to benefit from public education. They are incapable of learning to read and write and why are we spending time on this? So there was also built into the whole series of assumptions about social structuring capacity. It was driven by an economic imperative of the time, but running right through it, was an intellectual model of the mind, which was essentially the Enlightenment view of intelligence." (Robinson, 2011)
There was a belief that there were two types of people:
(1) academic; and (2) non-academic. (Robinson, 2011)
This type of reasoning, according to Robinson "is deep in the gene pool of public education. And the consequence of that is that many brilliant people think they are not, because they've been judged against this particular view of the mind. So we have twin pillars, economic and intellectual. And my view is that this model has caused chaos in many people's lives. And it's been great for some - there've been people who benefited wonderfully from it, but most people have not. Instead the suffered this. This is the modern epidemic, and it's as misplaced as fictitious." (Robinson, 2011) Robinson holds that it is this that has resulted in "…the plague of ADHD. Now this is a map of the instance of ADHD in America. Or prescriptions for ADHD. Don't mistake me I don't mean to say there is no such thing as attention deficit disorder. I'm not qualified to say if there isn't such a thing. I know that a great majority of psychologists and pediatricians think there's such a thing. - but it's still a matter of debate. What I do know for a fact is it's not an epidemic. These kids of being medicated as routinely as we have our tonsils taken out. And on the same whimsical basis and for the same reason medical fashion." (2011) According to Robinson today's children are living in "the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth. They are being besieged with information and parse their attention from every platform, computers, from iPhones, from advertising holdings from hundreds of television channels. And…