The word curriculum has been used in a variety of ways. It has been used to mean:
1. A school’s written courses of study and other instruction materials.
2. The subject matter taught to the students.
3. The courses offered in a school.
4. The planned experiences of the learners under the guidance of the school.
But none of these definitions is adequate in terms of present needs and trends. The definition of curriculum we use is this: the curriculum is a program of instruction and education whose purpose is to achieve broad goals and related specific objectives which are planned in terms of a framework of theory, research and professional practice.
At the same time, it is a document that presents the objectives and broad content for a subject area. The English language curriculum provides the structure within which teachers make decisions about specific content, instruction and evaluation. This curriculum gives the teacher sufficient discretion to meet the needs of individual students in various settings, while making clear the expectations for student development at each grade level.
The curriculum emphasizes language as the medium of thought, learning and expression in all subject areas and encourages the integration of all language arts – speaking, listening, reading and writing. The exploration of subject content through these areas of linguistic ability develops language proficiency and enhances learning in all subject areas. The language arts are viewed as processes, with each process influencing and contributing to the development of others. These processes are not taught separately or fragmented into a series of subskills. Language competence includes more than the sum or mastery of sequential skills. In their efforts to comprehend what others say, write or read to them, and in their efforts to communicate with others, students focus on the overall or whole meaning of the message [cf. English Language Arts, p. 4]
As it was mentioned above, four areas of linguistic ability are closely related processes, each being a facet of language ability. Growth in one area usually facilitates growth in the others. Clear and fluent oral expression of ideas leads to clear expression of ideas in writing. Listening attentively to the ideas of others facilitate further generation of ideas.
Detailed scope and sequence charts which outline expected learning outcomes and developmental progress will assist teachers in their planning and program modifications.
The curriculum describes an integrated approach to language
development at all levels – an approach that utilises a variety of resources for instruction and reduces teachers’ dependence on one textbook. Resources include:
1. samples of written language from students’ environment;
2. predictable materials such as rhymes, songs, poems, in addition to classic and contemporary literature;
3. locally written and/or produced materials such as stories, photographs, slides, video and audio tapes;
4. taped TV and radio speeches, debates, newscasts, documentary films and commercials;
5. books, pamphlets and other media from school and community libraries;
6. materials students might bring from home for specific topics;
7. materials used in content areas across the curriculum;
8. student productions and compositions;
9. teacher-made materials.
Evaluation is a complex process at all grade levels. It involves:
Assessment – a series of activities or techniques used to gather information about students’ language development and competence, their growth in language use and in their abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing strengths and weaknesses should also be assessed.
Evaluation – the decision-making which follows assessment. Decisions must be made about the most beneficial teaching strategies for a student or a group of students. The gathered information assists teachers and students in improving the learning situation.
The curriculum emphasises evaluation as a continuous classroom process. Such ongoing or formative evaluation keeps students and parents informed of students’ progress, kinds of accomplishments, present difficulties, and need for program modification.
The curriculum provides a variety of monitoring techniques: checklists and inventories, observation guides, cloze texts, and students’ writing samples. Teachers are encouraged to use student-teacher interviews, term papers, video and audiotapes, individual and group reports, oral exams, open-book tests, and parent-teacher conferences as assessment strategies.
Summative evaluation occurs at strategic times such as the end of a unit, a theme, a chapter of study or a term. The purpose of summative evaluation is to examine what has been learned over a period of time and then to inform the students, the teachers, and the parents of progress relative to curriculum objectives.
This type of thinking is consistent with traditional academic theories oriented toward contemporary knowledge. The goal of incorporating critical and creative thinking processes into the eleventh-grade curriculum is to develop individuals who value knowledge, learning and the creative thinking, who can and will think for themselves.
While the knowledge base required for critical and creative reflection varies from subject to subject, the underlying values and attitudes remain constant across school subjects and exercise the right decent responsibility, act in accordance with an ethical framework which reflects qualities such as honesty, integrity and compassion.
It is important to understand the relationship between why one would undertake such reflection and how one would best go about it. Education should develop critical thinking: it should open the mind and promote a taste for inquiry and a certain intellectual curiosity.
The teacher’s desire to nurture a love for learning, to help students recognise and act upon their capabilities, and to establish a classroom climate which is based upon mutual regard and respect gives their teaching purpose and meaning. What is required is that teachers be authentic individuals who are striving to improve their practice through the use of critical and creative thought. The teachers should try to:
1. analyse their own thinking processes and classroom practices and provide reasons for what they do;
2. be open-minded, encouraging students to follow their own thinking and not simply repeat what the teacher has said;
3. change their own positions when the evidence warrants, being willing to admit a mistake;
4. consistently provide opportunities for students to select activities and assignments from a range of appropriate choices;
5. exhibit genuine interest, curiosity and commitment to learning;
6. undertake the organisation and preparation required to achieve learning goals;
7. seek imaginative, appropriate and ethical solutions to problems;
8. be sensitive to others’ feelings, level of knowledge and degree of sophistication;
9. allow for student participation in rule setting and decision making related to all aspects of language, including assessment and evaluation.
Teachers can move towards making their classroom more thoughtful place by making judgements and decisions from a base of empathy and understanding, by valuing originality and authenticity, and by using differences of opinion as teaching situations which invite thoughtful analysis.
Teachers can foster critical and creative thinking:
-by asking questions, such as “What can you infer about the
effect of this action from the statements given?”
-organising for “structured controversy”; “unstructured situations”
-involving students in discussions and debates which tackle more than one side of an issue and require students to back argument with evidence and reference to consequences.
-offer alternative ways of solution to the problem;
-provide a wider variety of perspectives on the subject matter;
-having students attend community meetings, watch TV programs or read newspaper articles that express different viewpoints;
-having students attempt to solve real life problems where there is the possibility of more than one adequate solution;
-requiring students to defend their assertions with reasons.
Близнюк М.І. Курс лекцій з методики викладання англійської мови. – Чернівці: ЧДУ, 1999 – с.