Tony Gurr

Seriously…what is CURRICULUM…Seriously? [Part FIVE of ???]

In Curriculum, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 31/03/2011 at 10:01 am

OK – back from “sunny” London (yes, I kid you not – we had some lovely weather and I was able to spend so much time with my big, little girl)…I am a happy daddy!

So, where were we all?


If we did a quick summary of the last four “episodes”, there would be a number of key bullets:

  • We need a “new lens” to help us reconceptualise curriculum…it is not enough for us to think of curriculum as a “teaching plan”.
  • A powerful roadblock to wider curriculum renewal are the values and beliefs of educators (and their institutions) about what curriculum needs to be about – and the fact that we all live in an “answer-orientated” world that puts “quick-fix solutions” before a “questioning mindset”
  • This, in turn, means that most of us are still required to work with models of curriculum that focus almost exclusively on “content” and fail to fully expose learners to the processes used by “real people” and “professionals” to practice their “crafts” and gain knowledge by carrying out tasks requiring higher order thinking – and keep on learning well after “formal education” is over and done with.

All-in-all this looks like a pretty tall order – and it is.


The challenge facing those of us that want to change the way we “do curriculum” was summed up by John Ralston Saul in his wonderful book Voltaire’s Bastards:

Ten geographers who think the world is flat will tend to reinforce each others errors….Only a sailor can set them straight.

In Parts Three and Four of this blogging saga, I tried to help those of you that want to be a “curriculum sailor”.

I offered some sets of questions designed to promote the type of questioning mindset we need to advance the way we think about allthingscurriculum – and, in a way, challenged everyone to question whether we are “sailing-our-talk”.

We also touched on the issue of “organisational culture” and hinted at the type of institutions that were best equipped to manage the type of “curriculum rEvolution” we need to see in our schools, colleges and universities.

Before we move on, however, I also wanted to remind everyone of something that we discussed in an earlier post on the type of “leadership” required to create and nurture an organisational culture that is open and responsive to change and learning.

One of the “FIVE CORNERS of leadership” is PRINCIPLES – and these do not have to be limited to how we “do business” with others. Principles can be applied to how we tackle the very issue of curriculum renewal.

Now, obviously it would not be fair of me to simply tell you to go away and think about what your principles are (as they relate to curriculum) – I have used that technique a lot of late!

I’ll tell you mine and there are ten words that capture these principles:

  • Learning-driven
  • Explicit
  • Purposeful
  • Values-centred
  • Faculty-owned
  • Dynamic
  • Future-orientated
  • Spiral
  • Creative
  • Living


What I will do, however, is leave you with these 10 words – until tomorrow

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