On the first day of class, I reserved my expectations about the course since I knew little to none about Curriculum Studies. After all, I came from a field different from Education. I thought to myself that I was not in a position to put forward a list of (high) expectations. To be honest, among the reasons I took the course is that it was simply required by the CPE program. So, I admit I was slightly disoriented in the beginning. Whatever confusion I initially had, though, was dissolved on the day Ma’am Clavio presented to us the course syllabus.
The course syllabus laid out everything. So much so that skimming through it will already give you an overview of all the components and structure of the curriculum process. (Actually, the way it is organized makes it a great exam reviewer.) Albeit the fact that the syllabus is easy to navigate, mind you, it is quite detailed. And as a class we did our best to follow it down to the tee. However, due to unforeseen circumstances like frequent class cancellations due to the inclement weather, we had to make adjustments. I find it impressive that in doing so, we did not skip or depart from any topic in the syllabus. Rather, Ma’am Clavio would integrate and compress several subject matters that were supposed to be discussed in 2 or more meetings into 1.
As a way of fast-tracking the lessons, instead of holding a typical lecture as what most professors would do when pressed for time, Ma’am would hand us activities and games from which we’d draw the lesson/s of the day. She seemed to be fond of such a dynamic way of teaching that I can’t recall having a meeting where we didn’t take part in some sort of exercise. Not that I’m complaining. As a matter of fact, I think these games and activities offered us ample opportunities to interact with our classmates, Ma’am Clavio herself and even the authors of our references like Ornstein and Print. So, one could surmise that there never was a dull moment in class.
Moreover, while Ma’am gave us individual homeworks, most of the activities in the classroom were done by group. I remember during our first meeting, for us, students, to get to know each other, Ma’am devised a game wherein she asked us to group ourselves depending on our opinion on a given current event. We were given time to discuss our views with the people in the same group as us before she would present another news bit. We would then have to regroup with other people and repeat the same process.
Not only do activities like these foster cooperative learning, but these also help us develop our critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For instance, another activity we had to jumpstart our discussion on the social issues and trends of the curriculum involved a short movie. Ma’am asked us to watch it all together in class and asked us to list down the different issues we noticed in the film. Afterwards, she asked us to share our individual answers with our groupmates and rank these according to importance. The process of deliberating together helped broaden our perspective and actually put our critical thinking and problem-solving skills to test as we had to consider the various and (more importantly) conflicting opinions of all the members of the group in deciding which issue to prioritize.
Another interesting group activity we had was creating a curriculum as our final project. It really isn’t as easy as it seems. If anything, I’d say we had our work cut out for us since none of us in the group had a background in Education. In spite of that, however, I think we managed, (nay, we did a pretty good job if I may say so myself). I’m shamelessly proud of that because (well, for me) the PREP curriculum that we produced in the end was a result of pure team effort and equal hard work. The entire process was egalitarian. Each member of the group was involved in every step of conceptualizing and concretizing PREP. What is odd, or rather fascinating, is that it wasn’t something we explicitly agreed on. I don’t think it’s because no one wanted to take the lead, but it was more like we respected and recognized each other’s opinion and capabilities so much that we all wanted everyone to take part and have an input. So, what we usually did was, after doing our own research work, we would meet as a group before and/or after our EDCS 101 class or any time during the week. Together, we would deliberate and discuss what had to be done and plot it all out on paper. Perhaps, the most blatant division of labor we had was articulating the parts of the final paper. (Note: the content/substance thereof was thought of and unanimously agreed on by all members of the group.) I was in charge of the situational analysis and intent. Dot wrote the content. Learning activities was assigned to Celeste. Miriam wrote the implementation. And Kat was in charge of the evaluation. Other than that, we pretty much did everything together including the powerpoint presentation and revision of the paper.
Feedback on our group’s curriculum was fairly positive evident in the grade they gave us which ranged from 40-50, if my memory serves me right. The main concerns of our classmates mostly revolved on the question of whether or not there will be significant demand for the PREP curriculum considering that our target students belong to the middle to the upper class. We answered this by asserting that there is a growing interest among middle to upper class couples from today’s generation to be actively involved in their children’s lives as manifested by the prevalence of parenting magazines, TV programs and other media that cater to the same market. Also, our curriculum can easily be replicated for the lower class as long as it will be subsidized by the government or other organizations. In the first place, what only prevented us from extending the PREP curriculum to the lower class was the availability of funds and resources since implementing it will cost a lot of money.
Another thing I noticed in class is that we were not reliant on a single type of activity and material. In addition to the movie I mentioned earlier, we also used powerpoint presentations, text cards, drawings, and a ball. Yes, a ball. But regardless whether Ma’am used traditional or digital media and whether or not she used any at all, our class meetings were always engaging and meaningful. We actually had a meeting where members of the class just talked — a pure discussion on the models of the curriculum, if I remember it correctly. Despite that, I can say for certain that we all took in the lesson well.
Ma’am Clavio was not remiss in providing us with a variety of resources. Personally, the resources on the Philippine K-12 curriculum were a big help to me as I was able to use and include these as my references for my EDCS 223 class wherein I had to report and write a paper on the Politics of Curriculum. (If anything, I’d go so far as to say that I exploited the materials provided to us.) Access to these resources was never a problem as well and Ma’am made sure of that. During the first 2 to 3 meetings of the class, she took the time to ensure that everyone was a member of and had access to Edu 2.0 where she would upload all the files we needed and used. Edu 2.0 was also where we would submit our daily reflections, consult with Ma’am and see our grades.
Speaking of reflections, aside from a written exam, we had to write daily reflections on the topics that were recently tackled in class. Perhaps, it was a way for Ma’am Clavio to assess if we learned anything — if we truly absorbed and understood the subject matter.
To some, having to write these reflections every week may seem taxing. But I really think it paid off in the end. Not only because it trained (and forced) me to write and tested what I knew, but because I found it quite gratifying to read and revisit them in the end. More so, when Ma’am would give the grade (which by the way she’d give just a meeting after we’ve submitted our reflections. Talk about speedy.), she would also comment on them which I highly appreciate as it gave me an idea on what she expected from each of us in the class and what I had to work on the next time I had to write an assignment. Her comments also kept me from being clueless and from constantly wondering if what I wrote was substantial or if it made any sense at all.
Needless to say, although I was compelled to take the course, I don’t regret enrolling in it for a moment. EDCS 101 gave me an opportunity to discover and understand the rudiments of curriculum studies — a field I’m seriously considering as an area of specialization for my Master’s degree. Without any intention of sucking up to the professor, the class also inspired me to be creative when it comes to teaching. It made me realize that in choosing a teaching method or instructional design, as a teacher, I should make sure that it innovatively enhances my students’ learning experience and constantly engages them in the classroom. Since ultimately, paraphrasing Dewey and McLuhan, what students do in a classroom is what they learn and what they learn to do is the classroom’s message.