Week 1

The History of the Ontario Curriculum

A Curriculum Design for Social Change

Hartwell, A. (1968). A curriculum design for social change. Educational Leadership, 405-407.

A Curriculum Design for Social Change

In this article, Hartwell (1968) describes how changes to the curriculum need to be made but must be carefully made in relation to an understanding of social change (p. 405). Hartwell (1968) goes to to describe how issues such as poverty and discrimination are critical and face many Americans today (p. 405). Yet when reviewing a sample set of objectives for a social studies curriculum, the expectations of what students are expected to learn in school and the objectives that they need to obtain for the reality of life outside of the classroom sound like, “hypocritical platitudes” (Hartwell, 1968, p. 406).

Hartwell (1968) describes how (at this point in time) the increase in the poor migrating to the city from rural areas without the proper “requirements” for this type of living in combination with the influx of the white middle class, has created an “urban crisis” (p. 406). Furthermore, the author describes how the proportion of “Negro and white” , as well as the rich and poor, grow up knowing of each other’s existence yet do not know anything of their “fears, hostility and and humanness of the other” (Hartwell, 1968, p. 406). Hartwell (1968) stresses the urgency of closing this gap if schools and institutions are going to fulfill their founding promises (p. 406).

Hartwell (1968) proposes a curriculum change to help alleviate this societal gap by providing secondary students an opportunity to develop an understanding and attitude that is needed to be future citizens by providing opportunities to volunteer time in welfare institutions, inner city schools and other community organizations (p. 406). The students will be able to act as a link between public schools/institutions and the poor and will be able to communicate their frustrations and insights to promote social change (Hartwell, 1968, p. 406). Hartwell (1968) discusses the process involved in participating in such a field experience such as the need for training in interpersonal relations, how to gather facts, the various urban problems that they might be subjected to, and how to interpret information so that they can better aid the organization or institution in which they would be assigned to (p. 407).

Lastly, Hartwell (1968) stresses that unless we move away from a focus on a traditional curriculum and the need for specialists, then we will not develop the new skills that are needed for coping with our various social problems such as the widening gap between each other’s race, and socioeconomic status (p. 407).

Discussion Questions...

  1. In what ways do we currently promote social change in our schools and our community? Are there any specific programs that any of you currently use or have experience using in the past?

  1. Since this is the introduction week to our “Curricular Issues” course, I thought it would be fitting to list/brainstorm ways in which you believe we need to make changes to our current curriculum. Feel free to respond using a written response, pictures that capture the issue, or a video from Youtube.

A Topography of Canadian Curriculum Theory

Chambers, C (1999). A topography for Canadian curriculum theory. Canadian Journal of

Education, 24(2), 137 - 150. doi

A Topography of Canadian Curriculum Theory

Chambers (1999) stresses the importance of connecting topography with the Canadian curriculum theory so that our students and we, as adults, can answer the questions “‘Who are we?’” and “‘Where is here?’” in relation to our Canadian culture (Frye, 1971, as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 137). Chambers (1999) describes the increase in Canadian literature as an “explosion of writing” and highlights the increase in Canadian speculative fiction in the last decade (p. 139). In this genre, there are two key themes which are present and significant to curriculum theorizing: the important role that the setting plays in a story and the theme of the “Alienated Outsider” (Chambers, 1999, p. 139). Chambers (1999) describes themes that are also evident in Canadian fiction such as survival and colonization (pp. 130-140). In discussing the theme, survival, Atwood (1972) stresses that Canadians may not recognize their own literature, history, land, and sense of uniqueness in their own curriculum and theory even when “living in the midst of it” (as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 140). The theme - survival - has become a common motif in Canadian literature according to Frye (n.d.) (as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 141). Furthermore he describes the ways in which Canadians have survived: culturally, politically, and spiritually, as well as, survival in the midst of crisis and disaster as well as survival from hostile people and environments (Frye, n.d., as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 141). Atwood (1972) also describes how colonization has played a role in Canadian literature and this theme of “victim” which is often described in this type of literature as well (as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 143). Further, Chambers (1999) describes how Canadians are seen as marginalized people using examples from the short story by Ven Begamudre [1994](p. 143).

Chambers (1999) stresses how Canadians need both literature and curriculum that describes the “‘here’” of where Canadians live, which maps out the “topography of where we live” and the historical, sociopolitical, and institutional landscapes of Canadians’ lives (p. 144). In order to do this, Chambers (1999) states that curriculum theorists need to borrow tools from the past; that were inherited to us, and make them our own (p. 144). In doing so however, Chambers (1999) outlines four challenges that we will face: a.) Writing from this place; b.) A language of our own; c.) Interpretive tools of our own and d.) Topography for Canadian curriculum theory (pp. 144-148).

In conclusion, Chambers (1999) stresses the importance of Canadian curriculum theorists and practitioners to continuously ask the questions, “‘Who are we?’”, “‘Where are we?’” and “‘Who are they?’” (p. 148).

Discussion Questions...

  1. In what ways does your current curriculum (depending on your geographic location) lend itself to help students explore and answer the two pertinent questions:
    Who are we? Where are we?

Do you feel that the curriculum is successful in providing relevant content for students to feel connected to their own culture, history etc.? In what ways, “yes”? In what ways, “no”?

2. In Atwood’s (1972) book entitled, Survival, the author claims, “We need such a map desperately….we need to know about here, because here is where we live. For members of a country or a culture, shared knowledge of their place, their here, is not a luxury but a necessity. Without that knowledge we will not survive” (p. 19, as cited in Chambers, 1999, p. 140). What are your thoughts on this quote? Do you think that this urgency of “survival” is still true today in relation to the Canadian culture?

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Conflicting Visions, Competing Expectations: Control and De-Skilling of Education - A Perspective from Ontario

Majhanovich, S. (2002). Conflicting visions, competing expectations: Control and de-skilling

of education - a perspective from Ontario. McGill Journal of Education, 37(2), 159-176.

Conflicting Visions, Competing Expectations: Control and De-Skilling of Education - A Perspective from Ontario

The article by Majhanovich (2002) outlines the changing expectations and concerns of teachers and their federations as well as the consequent pitfalls, from the passing of education Bills 160 and 74 in recent past. Majhanovich (2002) describes how the political restructuring in Ontario has led to these issues at stake, since each elected government is determined to “undo what the previous government has instituted” (p. 160). Furthermore, the article describes both the past and the current (as of 2002) educational restructuring and describes how this “restructuring” is used in conjunction with the government’s broader agenda to make changes such as, “fiscal responsibility, deficit cutting, reducing government support social services, along with attendant privatization wherever possible” (Majhanovich, 2002, p. 161). During the time when the Harris Government was in power, they announced Bill 160 entitled, “The Education Quality Improvement Act” that had very little to nothing, to do with education and would potentially reshape every possible feature of public education for the following years to come (Roberston, 1998, as cited in Majhonovich, 2002, pp. 161-162).

Bill 160

Many teachers perceived this bill as an attack on their rights as teachers to bargain collectively, which would create conditions that would no longer allow teachers to negotiate their terms (Majhanovich, 2002, p. 162). Majhanovich (2002) describes the features of Bill 160 including some key points such as setting average class sizes, nullifying previous contracts between the board and their teachers, removing principals and vice-principals from their unions, creating school councils that do not include teachers, centralizing funding from local boards to the government and the reduction of teacher’s prep time while increasing the number of classes (p. 162). With the changes made to the Ontario school curriculum, implications are clear that, “schools will have to make do with less - less money and fewer teachers” (Majhanovich, 2002, p. 164).

Restructuring of the Ontario School Curriculum

With the restructuring of the Ontario curriculum came significant changes such as: a.) curriculum for all elementary and secondary programs had to be rewritten; b.) course profiles had to be rewritten along with the description of activities, assessment, and time lines; c.) all assessment rubrics were standardized on a four-point scale; d.) a provincial report card; e.) new texts written to correspond with the new curriculum and f.) the implementation of standardized tests for certain grades (Majhanovich, 2002, p. 165). All of these changes led to teachers feeling “de-skilled” with little room for imagination, innovation and change (Majhanvoich, 2002, p. 166).

Bill 74

Bill 74 was passed and used to “tighten some loopholes in Bill 160” and brought about more changes including an increase in secondary teacher’s course loads, implementation of Teacher Advisory Group TAG, as well as the mandatory additional “co-instructional” activities that the teachers had to cohere to, changes to the principals’ role, as well as compulsory testing for all teachers (Majhanovich, 2002, pp. 168-171).

All of these changes to the teachers in Ontario have caused a sense of disarray amongst teachers as they await to see what happens next with the newly elected government (Majhanovich, 2002, p. 175).

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think that teachers today, feel “de-skilled” as changes to the Ontario Education continue to change? If so, in what ways?

2. Do you agree that in today’s society, teachers may feel that “...his or her role is transformed into merely an executor of someone else’s plans?” (Apple, 1986, as cited in Majhanovich, 2002, p. 166).

3. As we are currently in the 21st century, what examples of support (physical, social, emotional etc.) do you believe teachers, principals, administrators and curriculum writers need, in order to be successful at what they do and to feel skilled in their profession?

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Thank you for reading my summaries and discussion questions! Please respond to the questions in the appropriate thread on BlackBoard. Iook forward to being your facilitator this week :)