The Politics of Curriculum Making

This chapter, 10 in the Contemporary Curriculum ( McNeil, 2015) book, brings up the conversation regarding the political nature of developing curriculum. Politics are broadly considered here in terms of the impact of policy on curriculum decisions, while also narrowing the focus to the local level of parents and teachers when discussing the specific information to be included in the correct curriculum.

Including more of the stake holders in the current discussion concerning curriculum is a more inclusive step, but the book still continues the silences of the standard curriculum.

In our class discussion, we started to discuss some of how to bring in voices that have historically been silenced. And then we started talking more about the structural elements that determine what is proper content, which led to one of many conversations about the publishing companies.  Their investment in physical product and testing materials makes them more connected to the type of curriculum that is least controversial.

And so we cycled back around again to the various political actors that have varied vested interests in what material is taught in schools. And much like greater society, we did not come to a consensus as to what that content should be. And there were only 5 of us in the conversation.

This winding conversation illuminated the heart of some of the issues surrounding the conflict on regarding the curriculum of schools – divergence on purpose of education and the important narratives to include. I thought of the American Library Association’s “Banned Books” week, and the many books that are challenged because parents feel that the content of a book is damaging to their child for some reason. I have never understood the need to remove information from children, but that’s probably because I was never told to not read something.

This differing of opinions as to what should be included used to be handled through the existence of numerous school districts, each responsible for their own curriculum content. The variety of beliefs pertaining to the curriculum has become a larger obstacle as the U.S. has moved more toward a nationalization of thought. I’m interested to see how we decide the best way forward….