Dr. Matthew X. Joseph – Follow on Twitter @MatthewXJoseph
As I get ready for my panel on EdTech Leadership and my first EdTech Poetry Slam (yes – you read that right) at Tech and Learning Live Boston, coming up on April 27, I started thinking about Carl Hooker’s keynote about the marriage of Curriculum and Technology. How fun would that wedding be? If I were invited, maybe I’d get to be Curriculum’s Best Man. Maybe I’d give Curriculum a toast. It might go something like this:
(After the requisite tinkle of knife against champagne flute):
May I have your attention, please?
I know many of you never thought we’d get here today. Curriculum has always been that lone wolf howling at the moon, living the life solo, having fun, not being figured out or held down by one textbook. Curriculum likes to adapt but always holds the key to life’s lessons.
I first introduced Curriculum to my parents as “my friend who is a course of study – typically dresses in objectives, lessons and sometimes even assessments.”
And they were like – “sounds stable.” Little did they know…right?
When I introduced Curriculum to my friends in education, I would say, “this is my buddy Curriculum, who provides the direction for skills students are expected to learn, including the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet.”
Knowing I was giving this speech I asked some of our old buddies to give a shout out to Curriculum. Andy sent this note; “When I met Curriculum, I said: I like old time music and I want you to have rigor and a 21st century skill framework when we hang out.” Jack said, “I told Curriculum that when we met, we can hang out, but I want you to encompass a variety of mental, physical and emotional experiences a child goes through when learning a concept.” Eric, always a rebel said, “Sometimes it’s easier to define what Curriculum is not. Curriculum is definitely not a set of worksheets, or teacher scripts.”
Interesting, right? Us education buddies from back in the day have many different conceptions of Curriculum. And all of them are true.
So, for my best friend on this special day, I would say Curriculum is a sequence of scaffolded concepts, content, and activities intended to develop knowledge, skills, and competencies in participants. Since we met back in 1990 as a student teacher, I always tried to keep Curriculum active and focused on the experience of the learner. I consider Curriculum the “heart” of all schools. But as I matured from a student teacher, classroom teacher, principal, and now district leader, I saw my friend mature as well and wanted to see Curriculum meet someone to share lessons with.
Around this time, I met “Technology,” who was being called cool words like “digital learning” and “the future of instruction.” My friend Curriculum was not a fan of Technology at first, saying Tech had “a lack of alignment in instruction and assessment,” as well as a “lack of schedule, structure and support services.” Curriculum thought Technology was unpredictable and that would lead to poor student performance and frustration on the part of educators.
Eventually, Curriculum started to change, even finally admitting to being just part of the plan that directly affects students. Seizing the moment for a matchmaking opportunity, I reached out to Technology and scheduled a time to meet for coffee to talk about my friend.
Tech showed up with hashtag jewelry, and fancy clothes from designers I didn’t know. I started talking about my friend. I told Tech that Curriculum can be very intriguing. My friend taught all subjects to give students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. I said that my friend could be implicit when the mood calls for it — when lessons arise from the culture of the school and the behaviors, attitudes, and expectations that characterize that culture. Curriculum could be moody, but my friend could also go the extra mile when needed to offer additional school-sponsored programs that can supplement the academic aspect of the school experience.
So Technology agreed to meet Curriculum ….. and the rest is history. Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to Curriculum and Technology. May they enjoy a long and happy life together.