Contemporary Curriculum Issues
Designing a curriculum is not known to be an easy task. Various issues coming from all sectors often find themselves integrated into the development of a curriculum in one way or another. The sensitivity to curriculum planning of the different factors and indicators of quality instruction is of paramount importance to curriculum developers. They shape and reshape the configuration of every curricular program all for the purpose of providing the best efficient and effective delivery of instruction.
History is replete with scenarios that illustrate the significant influences in curriculum development. In business for instance, the curriculum drivers such as competition and globalization has been repeatedly identified as among the more stable and critical factors in curriculum development. School has been known to respond according to the needs of the industry and the business environment that prevails during a certain period in history. Even modern schools have started to find themselves dynamically responding to every marketing indicator available. Considering the relative setup of corporate success, schools are gradually shifting to more effective means of designing their curricula along industry competencies and other critical areas in the social, political, environmental, economic and technological aspects.
Curriculum development experts are of the opinion that the pressing social issues play a part in the design and implementation of the curriculum. In general, problems that have started to plague the social environment are emerging along the areas of personal and professional values such as ethics, governance and the risks that pose dangers to relationships and conflicts in society. The continuing growth in the population figures demand a stronger ethical and governance imperatives for businessmen and managers. The cases of Enron in the year 2002, later the Worldcom, Tyco and Martha Stewart indicate a growing need to address business issues. After a thorough analysis, educators and businessmen agree that the culprit in the 21st century scams and illegal derivatives point to the issues of business ethics, governance, transparency and of course, the professional ethics of the various professions involved in the sector.
When before the onset of the need for a stronger ethical component in the curriculum, ethics was a stand alone subject which students have to enroll separately from other subjects in the program offerings. However, the continuing issues that apparently afflicts the industry point to a different measure other than introducing ethics and governance issues as a separate discipline, but rather must be integrated in all disciplines within the curriculum. Experts agree that ethics is an application of values in every area of decision making and does not confine itself to just a small area to be learned and distinct from other disciplines. This leads us to conclude that even if ethics and governance issues remain as separate distinct subjects, nevertheless requires a subsequent integration and synthesis subject that incorporates all types of discipline towards the concluding semesters of the curriculum. Hence, the application components can be in the form of case and feasibility studies, thesis, dissertations, researches and even technical papers required for submission and forming part of a reasonably substantive part of the final grade.
The ethics and governance issues are value-centered and utilize as its basis the theory that values cannot be taught, and that they can only be caught. Teachers are models, and the hidden curriculum in the educational system demand that, in the ideal setup, teachers have to be models of what they teach and should be paragons and fine examples themselves of what they teach inside the classrooms.
The political sector similarly represents a critical component player of curriculum development. Referring more specifically to the current political practices of government units, agencies and offices, the political system similarly represent a serious indicator of chaos and disarray in the whole universal system. Within this issue, the common sub-issues indicate the emerging new political ideologies that most people have started to embrace. While the communist ideology has effectively disappeared primarily for its obsolescence and inability to address even the basic social needs and in the scheme of things. People have a natural way to conduct their lives according to what they believe are fit for them. This factor is used as the democratic model of governments – as Lincoln epitomized in his Gettysburg Address. These political issues include graft, corruption, bureaucratic red tapes, nepotism, pork barrels, political expediencies and double talk and gobbledygook’s, checks and balance between the executive, legislative and judicial structures to name a few.
In the curriculum development aspect, these issues, among others, are necessarily integrated in various subject disciplines for purposes of making the student aware of the issues he is destined to confront later in his career. Similarly, these issues are critical for their significant impact on the social relationships developing among nations, races, political beliefs themselves and the conduct of the related economic, environmental and technological factors affecting each.
History, the constitution, the issue of public and fiscal and administrative management are among the needs for competencies of graduates destined to serve in the government. Ignorance along these issues is likely to redirect graduates towards adventurism and political expediencies that are now commonly experienced by unstable governments like Iraq, Korea, China, and countries from South America and Africa.
Capitalism continues to lord it over the economic landscape of most countries. Although this has a more stable basis of sustainability, capitalism creates a systemic anomaly in terms of the needed business values expected of entrepreneurs and managers. The current financial crisis spawn by the Wall Street mess is a classic example of what this economic issue has in terms of curriculum development. More than the issues of personal values, the crisis leaves a lasting legacy of how managers subordinate the social and the common good of society. This approach seems to be the neglect of our financial managers of the utilitarian concept of ethics. Financial managers have, for many years, amassing wealth and power through the political and financial systems. The natural tendencies and scheme of things as practiced would impact the social as well as the political structure of any unit. The resultant theory then creates a seamless socio-economic and political configuration that no longer illustrates and makes distinction between the social, economic and political identities of the issues for curriculum development.
In the program offerings of universities and colleges, the curricular structure is sequenced as the general education component, the core and the professional subjects. The curriculum compendium serves as the die and cast of a learner. The logical and pre-requisite system within the curriculum is urgent issues confronting program developers. The implication is that, the economic component of the curriculum perhaps plays the substantive chord of student development that faculty members must research on, facilitate, monitor, evaluate and accordingly revise and overhaul.
Further, economic issues demand from the student how all kinds of adversities are to be addressed as well as utilized to improve and enhance the social and political issues. This synergy is expected to develop a certain degree of competency-based programs that will serve as a formative paradigm for graduates.
The educational system is left with no choice but to sustain the continuous process of developing curricular offering based on historical and emerging issues in the entire social, economic, political, technological and even environmental aspects. The dynamism required of curriculum planners is a minimum demand that must be equated with the need to address social issues, economic phenomena, political uncertainties, technological risks and environmental realities.
The academe can learn from the strong management will of the corporate world in adopting the new drivers of the new social, economic and political order. In the same way that the corporate world can learn from the values, philosophy and social dimension of forming graduates that will balance the entire sustainable need of the entire human race.
It is superfluous to say that the curriculum is the mold that determines the fate and destiny of generations to come. This in fact equally represents the critical responsibility that rests upon curriculum planners. It is therefore becoming mandatory that the process of curriculum development must invite and listen to the voices of all stakeholders, even students, in the noble process of molding the temper of the next generation.
List of References
Villa, R., Thosuand, J. (1995). Creating an inclusive school, Alexandria, Virginia, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Sarason, S. (1990). The predictable failure of educational reform, San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.
Lewis, H. R. (2006) Excellence without a soul:How a great university forgot education. NEW York, Perseus Books
Glasser, W. (1990), The quality school: Managing students without coercion. New Yor, Harper and Row Publishers
Clark, R. (2002). Global awareness: thinking systematically about the world. New York. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
McManus, J. E. (1993). Financial Terrorism: Hijacking America under the Threat of Bankruptcy.
Appleton,Wisconsin, the John Birch Company