ECU professor calls for 'creative' curriculum development
(Oct. 4, 2007)
A new approach to curriculum development that promotes creativity and research-based problem solving is outlined in a new book written by an East Carolina University professor of education.
In his book, “Curriculum and Imagination: Process Theory, Pedagogy and Action Research” (London & New York: Routledge, 2007), James McKernan describes an alternative process for designing and implementing educational curricula for students that would eliminate an objectives-based approach to learning.
“‘Curriculum and Imagination’ provides a rational and logical alternative for all
educators who plan curriculum but do not wish to be held captive by a mechanistic ‘ends-means’ notion of educational planning,” said McKernan, who teaches in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“Too often we decide in advance what our students are supposed to learn,” he said. “But a student who is being creative will come up with unexpected outcomes. Instruction can play a role in that. Pure education is an induction into knowledge; it’s an inquiry.”
The book, intended to be a text for education students as well as for teachers, gives an alternate theory for student learning that avoids the teach-to-the-test model of education fueled in the past decade by demands set by the No Child Left Behind initiative.
“Our national system of education revolves around this management-based model,” he said. “We have to measure everything.”
The demands for measuring student performance and requiring uniform standards in public schools, he said, leaves teachers with very little academic freedom, he said.
“What we need is a judgment model versus a ‘marker’ model. Teachers should be more like evaluators, but the state has taken away that responsibility.”
Teachers can engage in what McKernan calls “action research” to help address the concerns that surface in classrooms and school social environments.
“The teacher should be an action researcher of the curriculum's effects, McKernan said. Teachers should attempt to identify problems in their classrooms and conduct research as a means of solving them. “I argue that this is a radical, but more intelligent educational approach, to curriculum planning.”