Part 1) According to the Levin article, how are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?
According to Levin’s article, curriculum is developed by a key group of actors: national, local, and provincial levels of government; teachers, administrators, business interests, community members, post-secondary subject experts, post-secondary institutions, and the Minister of Education.
These actors work together to assess the efficiency of the current curriculum as well as posit potential revisions or re-workings of the current curriculum. Research is brought forward for consideration as well as the requirements for post-secondary institutions and subjects and competencies that employers are looking for in their employees. The process of curriculum revision can take years and undergo a number of pilot periods before a version is reached that is accepted by the majority of reviewers. Ultimately, final decisions for curriculum revision fall before the mercy of government bodies.
I was surprised to learn just how much influence politics has over policy changes in education. Teachers are literally at the mercy of government bodies vis-a-vis the policies that dictate how they teach, what they teach, when they teach, etc. Of course this is concerning, but at the moment this is the nature of the beast. Increased weight from the perspectives of teachers as well as students would make me feel much more confident in the direction of education in Saskatchewan.
Part 2) After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, what connections can you make between the article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan? What tension might you imagine were part of the development of the Treaty Education curriculum?
Perhaps the most glaring tension that I noticed boils down to a quote from Levin, “the more significant the proposed change, the more likely it is to have limited adoption.” Treaty Education was a completely new policy. To my knowledge it had no fore-bearers. According to Levin, the more drastic a change, the more resistance it will receive and the less-likely it is to be implemented. This holds tremendous implications for something as important as Treaty Education. If teachers refuse to implement it, they are not only failing to perform their job as mandated by the government, but they are doing a disservice to their students and perpetuating the current North American world-view that First Nations people and concerns are “less than” or unimportant.
The other issue that I see, as raised by Levine, is that the more specialized a curriculum is, the more difficult it is to implement by teachers who likely do not have the same level of training or education in the field as the experts who shaped the curriculum. The contributors to the Treaty Education document consists primarily of experts in their field and Elders. Admittedly, the Elders serve double duty of acting as both experts in their field and as those having a finger on the pulse of First Nations issues and concerns, but many teachers in Saskatchewan are not of First Nations descent and as such will struggle to present the curriculum. They will not be able to offer the same depth of knowledge in Treaty Education as those who crafted the curriculum. With any luck, teachers will put in the effort to learn about First Nations issues and concerns which will allow them to draw from a greater depth of knowledge as opposed to the shallow puddle of knowledge that many, myself included, are currently drawing from.