Virtual Curriculum

I have chosen to dig deeper into the article “Virtual Curriculum: Digital Games as Technologies of Aesthetic Experience and Potential Spaces” by Chloe Brushwood Rose. The purpose of this article from the Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies investigates what can be learned while playing digital games. Young people invest significant amounts of time engaging with this form of media, and we have long been watchful of the effects that digital games have on our youth. Though many people hypothesize negative outcomes, Chloe Rose advocates for the journey-centered approach that digital games use. Games like realMYST have made an environment where the process is more rewarding than the product. While this is in contrast with curriculum’s product-oriented style, if we truly aim to prepare students for life we must consider the asset that digital games can be.

Schools have a history of deteriorating popular culture. Schools attempt to engage their students by bringing their fascinations into the classroom and adapting them to fit with curriculum. Chloe discusses how this will quickly lessen the motivation that adolescents once had to play it. She digs into what some theories of play are and argues that once play has an objective, the desire to engage with it disintegrates. By trying to fit the games into the learning outcomes teachers are, “undermining the… cultural and imaginative possibilities” (p. 98) of that game. Chloe asks that readers understand the learning opportunities that the game intrinsically holds by allowing students to work through challenges with no consequence of mistakes. The players are given the opportunity to ‘learn how to learn’ (p. 99) through problem solving and experiencing conditions that hard to come by. For this free participation to be possible the game must make players feel as though they are both fully immersed in the game, yet maintain an understanding that it is a fictional experience. The game must persuade the players that they need to respond as if it were real, in order for the learning experience to be optimal. You cannot create a persuasive story line if the games’ priority is to hit all the outcomes of the curriculum. So we find ourselves conflicted whether the experience of experiential learning is valuable enough to put product-oriented curriculum on hold.

To continue with this investigation on the place of virtual games in curriculum I would like to dig in farther to what other scholars view virtual gaming as. If I can find two articles which take opposing perspectives, I would like to find some truth about this topic. What can everyone agree on, if anything? I would also like to take more time looking at the different thoughts on play discussed in this chapter. I would also like to briefly examine Object-Relations Theory and Aesthetic Experience, as it was referenced in this article regularly.

Article: https://jcacs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/jcacs/article/ viewFile/16998/15800

Bobitt to Tyler

I had always heard that the educational system was designed to train factory workers, but had always had difficulty figuring out why.

I see now that the study of curriculum was grafted to the pursuit of efficiency. During the Industrial Revolution the discovery of new strategies was routine, and Franklin Bobitt had a mind for the children. He decided that there must be some method of expediting the educational process, and thus began his investigation into curriculum. He made many logical conjectures, yet we do not fully accept his findings.

Ralph Tyler was concerned with evaluating the process of education. He was a man of science through and through and believed through a scientific approach the education system could be perfected and preserved. He believed if we followed a process of four deliberate steps in our institutions we could guarantee that all differences between people be smoothed out.

However, both of these men neglected one issue that I find very important to teaching. Context is key.

Curriculum- a means to an end?

The four pillars of question that Ralph W. Tyler (educator and educational policy influencer) asks in regards to educational curriculum are as follows:

  1. Determine the school’s purposes (aka objectives)
  2. Identify educational experiences related to purpose
  3. Organize the experiences
  4. Evaluate the purposes

Taken from https://educationalresearchtechniques.com/2014/07/01/curriculum-development-the-tyler-model/

Just by reading through these concise points that Tyler wrote over 80 years ago, I can associate their principles with the climate of my own schools. In my high school in Melfort, we had a mantra of sorts that we knew was expected of us. “We are respectful, responsible, ready to learn!”. This was clearly an objective of the school that was meant to be know by the students. In addition to this, my school’s website (I just discovered now) has a ‘mission’ page. This housed 5 guiding principles in addition to 7 educational goals. In additional to the provincial curriculum each teacher would follow, it is clear that my school took time to contemplate the school’s purpose and had intentions of following The Tyler Model.

As I become more familiar with Tyler’s model I uncover benefits and consequences to this method of curriculum planning and execution. In the article Curriculum Theory and Practice, Smith outlines a few consequences. He takes that once an initial plan has been made there is a risk that the students will have “little or no voice” in their education, as it is pre-planned. An inquiry-based educational approach would be better set up to adapt to the classroom (or individual’s) unique educational inclinations. Another danger Smith outlines is that education may become cut-and-dry, lending no creative opportunity to the teacher or school. Smith also mentions the difficultly in accurately measuring the impact of changes, because of the nature of learning in the human brain. An unbalanced focus on objectives can eventually lead to our educators irritation, rather than pushing them on to good work.

I did also find some benefits to The Tyler Model. I see great value in teachers having access to guidelines which are reminders of their purpose. The procedure, as outlined in Smith’s article, gives 7 succinct steps which ushers curriculum planners (or educators!) in a controlled path to their goal. This sense of control slows down the process and ensures each step is taken deliberately, which is critical for such an important end product. Additionally, the ‘organizing power’ of this model is nothing to scoff at! I appreciate having a step-by-step process so I know I am addressing the necessary issues before proceeding to the next tier of the process.

New Definitions of Curriculum:

-‘an ongoing social process comprised of the interactions of students, teachers, knowledge and milieu’ ~Cornbleth

-‘A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice’. ~Stenhouse

-‘A programme of activities (by teachers and pupils) designed so that pupils will attain so far as possible certain educational and other schooling ends or objectives’ ~Grundy

This article has taught me that there is a multitude of ways to view curriculum, but also that the contemplation of this word and what it signifys is important to the future education. Four major ways curriculum can be seen are 1) praxis, 2) product, 3) process, or 4) knowledge which is to be transmitted.

"Common sense is not so common"

Though over 200 years old, this quote by the influential philosopher Voltaire rings with a truth we are only beginning to address.

In the article, “The Problem of Common Sense” (2009), Kumashiro retells his experience of moving to Nepal with the Peace Corps to teach. As I read Kumashiro’s reflections, I noticed that he was not prepared in the slightest for teaching in a foreign nation, yet had a specific vision of what the classroom was to look like. Kumashiro quickly found out that what his imagination formulated was biased in every way. He was accustomed to the American culture and quite naturally assumed it to be eternally valid, including in Nepal. However, during his time in Nepali culture he developed a consciousness towards common sense and how diverse it is throughout the world. To Kumashiro, commonsense is, “what everyone should know” (p. XXIX). It is an assumption based in culture, as Kumashiro discovered, which will take on the form of its context. As he lived and taught in Nepal he was dumbfounded by the expectations the students and citizens placed on him, which were very different from what deemed normal (and even superior). 

Everyone develops common sense as they grow and learn in their environment. It is a necessary and useful ability for our socialization in the world in which we live. However, it has some consequences that we must be aware of, which Kumashiro has highlighted in this excerpt. Common sense may not be the same from person to person, due to events that have influenced their understanding of it. Educators need to be especially aware of these differences as they will be interacting with students, each having their own construct of common sense. Additionally, they will be contributing to each student’s sense of common knowledge. This role is a huge responsibility that should be pondered and reflected upon. Another weakness that common sense can bring is blindness to its oppressive nature. Those with the ‘right’ type of common sense are given advantages while those lacking it will struggle. By using anti-oppressive forms of education, as a future teacher I can prevent and reverse the damage done by making uneducated and immature judgement calls. This is the best antidote to the harm that common sense can bring. 

Introducing: Mekenna Annable

Hello!

Welcome one and all to my first ever blog! I am in the University of Regina’s Bachelor of Education program, specializing in elementary education. One day, it is my dream to manage an educational facility which trains its young people in body and brain with the sole purpose of inspiring students to lead meaningful lives. Throughout this blog I hope you will not only see evidence of conscientiousness in educational pedagogy, but also growth throughout this semester

During my own education it is my aim to develop an understanding of truth, compassion, and humility, as it is my belief that each is meaningless without the others. As I strengthen my own three pillars I hope come alongside my future students and aid them as they establish their own.

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