Conversation – Colleen McGuire

Conversation Assignment : New Curriculum vs. Old Curriculum

I spoke to two different teachers regarding the benefits and challenges of the new curriculum versus the old curriculum. I came out of both conversations completely surprised by the nuanced responses of these two classroom teachers as compared to the acceptance and embracement of the new curriculum that has been taught to us in our time at UBC.  Both teachers mentioned that the lack of direction and resources are huge challenges with the new curriculum.  Additionally, with the new curriculum so far, they have experienced problems with continuity.  That is, the allowed openness has limited the opportunity to really foster any consistency across classes and grades.  There is no set information for teachers to know students’ background knowledge and how to build upon it.  As a response to this, one teacher asked why wasn’t the elementary curriculum introduced in phases as with the secondary curriculum in order to build the background knowledge required for some of the new content. Moreover, one teacher shared that the broadness of ‘Big Ideas’ has left no room for teachers to actually teach skills – for example, there is focus on using technology to support student inquiry and research but no clear timeline on teaching computer literacy.

On the contrary, however, both teachers commented on the benefit of having more autonomy regarding their teaching practices and the ability to explore and share their passions in the classroom though inquiry and project-based teaching/projects. They also agree that the newly implemented curriculum will help them teach students to become critical thinkers rather than content memorizers by focusing on teaching students to be active learners and building upon their abilities and competencies when it comes to learning.

Overall, both teachers expressed many concerns and challenges of the new curriculum but recognize that it is their job as teachers to teach whatever is given to them – and that the teachers who are passionate about their jobs as educators will readily work with whichever curriculum is implemented and make it work to inspire student learning, regardless of their personal feelings towards it.

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1 Response to Conversation – Colleen McGuire

  1. Isabeau Iqbal says:

    Colleen–thank you for writing about your surprise and contrasting what you heard from the teachers to what you’ve been hearing as your UBC-student self. Very interesting!
    This curriculum’s approach does, indeed, make it challenging to teach to prior knowledge…which will be much more open and less predictable.
    Ah, also interesting to read that teachers will ‘do what it takes’ to make this work for students (and for themselves, presumably).
    Thank you for this!

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