Textbook Notes (368,316)
Canada (161,798)
Sociology (1,053)
SOCB26H3 (17)
Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Curriculum

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Julian Tanner

Introduction  Curriculum isn’t just what’s learned in class, it also involves school rules, procedures, and routines. o Has to nurture personal traits and technical competencies to create citizens who will participate in civic and economic realms o Includes:  Teaching facts  Promoting arithmetic and grammar  Boost skills in debating, reasoning, persuading, and critical thinking  Promote authority, respect, trust, honesty, civility, fairness, responsibility, and tolerance.  In today’s world, schooling can only capture a slice of what is known. The sum of human knowledge could never be condensed into one curriculum  Educators constantly need to decide what to teach, when, and the best ways to do it o Sociologists seek to understand and explain these decisions  Schools use curriculum to sort and select students o Create curricular tracks that stratify students then decide which students go to which track  Example: Academic vs Applied in high schools. o Testing creates stratification.  Success in school is tied to occupational attainment  Schools also aim to socialize students into competent members of society.  Sociologists often distinguish between manifest and latent functions of schools Content: The Multiple Dimensions of Modern Progressivism  Traditional Style: teaching was centered on the teacher, and students were drilled on the acquisition of disciplinary content  Progressive Style: Child centred. Make school more egalitarian and humanistic. Focus on the needs of the students.  The shift happened because: o Courses should be useful  Example: Latin and Greek classes were dropped from curriculum o Needed to accommodate the needs of more students, as students were forced to stay in school longer o Curriculum has become more diverse within broad subject categories.  Example: Having various levels of math courses, then separating it into different little subject areas. Calculus, accounting, data management, etc. o Subject-based, book knowledge became more important  Students today learned more at younger ages than in the past  Core subjects in elementary school have remained stable throughout history. o Even the time dedicated to each subject hasn’t really changed. Form: Rationalizing and “Blocking” Knowledge  Schools have delivered a rationalized and bureaucratic curriculum. o Only a few “free schools” have de-structured and un- bureaucratic forms. o Among mainstream schools, the form of the curriculum doesn’t really vary.  Involves a division of labour o Not enough time to teach everything that is expected, what educators have done is divide subjects into smaller courses, called “curricular blocks”  Example: Science became biology, chemistry, physics, etc. o As students pass through each grade level, the curriculum becomes more organized into blocks. o A consequence of blocking can be that schools feel like an assembly line. Subjects are crammed into an unchangeable window of time. o This process alienates students, and creates compliant workers o Limits subject integration.  Blocks aren’t all bad. o Teachers can see if students are mastering that specific subject o Can promote specialized skills  Blocks are not seen as equals. Some courses are seen as serious while others not so much.  Demographics are an important rationalizing pressure on the curriculum. Students come to school with different abilities, preparedness, and motivations but administrators responded with a standardized timetable. More Rationalized Form: Types of Evaluation, Assessment, and Testing  Modern schooling involves a lot of judging, testing, etc.  Functionalists and Human Capitalists: o Evaluations ensure that the most capable students get the most demanding occupations  Marxists o Evaluation limits mobility for lower classes  Institutional Theorists o Assessments are about legitimating schools’ authority, which underlies the use of credentials to access the most prestigious and coveted jobs  Testing as Sorting and Selecting o Tests sort learners into different ability levels and streams. Schools are able to declare who is the best and smartest. Grades are the primary aspect in badges of ability. o Decisions are often based off “summative” tests. Which is an attempt to summarize the main things that have been learned within a specific interval. o Also based off “norm-referenced” standards. This compares students based on a standard norm level. Students are either above or below the norm. o Tests are made by humans, and therefore can have problems. o Tests only cover the most important topics, but are more focused on being able to memorize facts rather than demonstrate a deeper understanding of the material. o Problem with anti-testing argument is that it implies that schools should teach students things that cannot or should not be tested. o Creating quality assessments is more difficult than it would seem  Testing as Diagnostic o Sometimes testing can be to monitor students progress, and assist their future learning.  Called “Formative evaluation”  Designed to highlight levels of comprehension, occurring throughout the course. o Good teaching requires formative evaluation. It allows teachers to see where their students are at, and if their teaching methods are working. o Teachers tend to prefer this type of evaluation where politicians believe in standardized testing.  Testing as Accountability o In democracies, all publicly funded institutions are seen as being accountable to elected officials o In the past policy was left to school boards to decide curriculum and teaching methods. But now the provincial government has taken control of these areas.  Accountability has become about student achievement based on a pre-set standard. o Policy makers are focusing on improvement over time. o In the USA, they want to link achievement to funding. But its very controversial. Causation: Social Influences on the Curriculum  A dispute centres on identifying external groups that help create the curriculum, and their degrees of influence.  Functionalist: Focus on the moral elements of school, and its role in meritocratic selection. They see curricular form and its content as broadly sculpted by forces and modernization. Think that societal consensus decides what is taught.  Critical theor
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