This roller coaster ride we call curriculum reform offers ups and downs, twists and turns, and often brings us close to where we began though certainly not along the same path nor in the same condition. Some educators ride the rails of reform without any movement at all, as if totally unaffected by the ride. Others enjoy, in fact embrace, every twist and turn of reform, learning and growing from every challenge set before them. Is our roller coaster about to take another turn?
Clearly, the vast majority of students still attend public schools. However, alternatives are offering students and families the education they seek. Virtual schools, now available in at least a dozen states, offer courses for digital natives such as computer programming, web design, game design, and e-commerce as well as global languages such Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. Do a quick search on virtual schools to see the myriad of resources available. They aren’t riding the same old roller coaster . . . they are remodeling it! Creative curriculum design might be hastened by some good old fashioned competition.
To ensure that my intent is not misunderstood, I know that many on our roller coaster are ready for reform. In fact, I know of many teachers, many classrooms, many schools, and even districts, where amazing teaching and learning happens every day. The infusion of cooperative learning, community service, multiple intelligences, problem-based learning, interdisciplinary learning, and others into standards-based instruction seems to be a harbinger of change in the making. As we face the ups and downs, twists and turns, often created by the politics of educational reform, as future curriculum leaders, we must seek to keep our “riders” as our primary focus.
This video doesn’t use the roller coaster analogy, but you’ll get the point . . . “Building a dream, that’s what we do.” Watch for the “little kid” . . . he is our “rider.”
Layton, L. & Brown, E. (2011 Nov. 26). “Virtual schools are multiplying, but some question their educational value.” The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/virtual-schools-are-multiplying-but-some-question-their-educational-value/2011/11/22/gIQANUzkzN_story.