Why does curriculum need to change? The short answer is because our world is constantly changing. Our students need to be able to change with it. What better example than for them to see change in action while they are learning?
In this short article, I would like to explore 5 reasons that answer the question, “Why does curriculum need to change?”
Table of Contents
1. It is Outdated
While it is generally the responsibility of the teacher to adapt the curriculum to the particular classroom (i.e., students) that are being taught, having an updated curriculum is paramount to success. It allows the teacher to use that curriculum without having to research to find supplemental, up-to-date information. That saves the teacher huge amounts of time, allowing him/her to spend more time focusing on preparation and teaching than on research.
Obviously, some subjects need less updating as far as information is concerned. Math concepts for middle school students probably aren’t going to change much at all. The concepts are the same and have been since the dawn of time. The process of using those concepts could change a bit. But the concepts themselves remain the same.
Similarly, you won’t really need a whole lot of updating for teaching classic literature. The facts of the books remain the same, as do the characters and time frame in which it was written. What does change, however, is that world views shift. This causes a shift in the way students take in the information they read about in classic literature.
Amazingly, though, you will see that the more you read and teach literature, the more you will see how things change so much and so little at the same time. Cultures and technology change. Humanity and relationship remain astonishingly the same.
To conclude this point, I will state the obvious. Most updating of curriculum is going to occur in the history, science, and technology fields, where things are constantly changing.
2. The Demand for Knowledge Changes
The biggest reason for a change in education based on demand for knowledge lies in the fact that the world around us is always changing. The past century has seen unprecedented changes that have caused even more change at the classroom level.
For example, we now think globally instead of locally. That shifts the way we process information because we know so much more about other cultures and countries than in times past. In the past, people read about other countries and cultures. Now we see them firsthand on tv, internet, books, magazines, and social media at the very least. We are so immersed in other cultures globally that it automatically affects how we receive education.
In addition to that, we now also think in terms of modern technology. We use our phones to do myriad things everyday. If we had been told specific things our phones can now do fifty years ago, we would have laughed and thought that person was crazy. But those myriad things we can do with our phones allow us to connect to the whole world. And they allow us to connect to more information and education than anybody in history has ever had access to.
Seeing The Big Picture
And that takes us to why curriculum needs to change based on a much larger demand for knowledge. We no longer live as small communities in our small communities. We live as part of a very large world. And that large world comes with a much larger knowledge base.
That is an amazing concept to take in. But it is also incredibly overwhelming when we realize that we will never be able to take in all of the knowledge, or even necessarily a good-sized chunk. But we can arrange the best way to take in the best of that knowledge based on our current classroom needs.
3. Keeping Kids Engaged
Another reason why curriculum needs to change is because teachers have a lot of competition for their students’ attention these days.
The opportunities that kids have is amazing. But the way that it is delivered to them is also very distracting. Constantly moving pictures on tv, computers, and games make kids want to see constant movement in other areas of life. That is a dynamic that teachers will have a hard time keeping up with.
Because of this, content has to be able to grab their attention so they aren’t looking for fast movement.
The good news is that we can give them content that can keep them engaged. And that content can train their brains to not need that constant movement they are accustomed to.
In literature, a good dramatic reading can help them. But even more importantly, you must start with engaging literature books. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing groans from the kids when we have to end at a chapter, or when it is time to go home for the day and they were enjoying what they were doing more than the thought of going home for the day.
Adding in activities daily that promote what your students are learning as well as “entertaining” them in productive ways that develop their creativity will keep them engaged. And it will also help them to develop ideas about what they love. This could lead to a lifelong hobby or career down the road!
The possibilities in this area are pretty close to endless. Anything that is not limited by your classroom time or budget can be used. Thinking outside the box is critical.
You can see some examples of expanding the lessons to other activities if you click on this article. You can develop so many other things besides the items in this article!
And your students just may decide they have better things to do than the things on their electronic devices!
4. Technology Advances
Curriculum needs to change because technology advances that have occurred outside of the classroom have a huge impact on what happens inside the classroom.
The way we all do things now compared to even a decade ago is so drastically different. We generally don’t realize how much technology impacts almost every area of our lives.
Technology has always been a part of the classroom. It is just that in the past century technology has increased exponentially. This has made it look like a totally different issue in the classroom. And indeed, the super fast progression of technology has greatly affected the current day classroom.
We can supplement our students lessons with a video that develops what they have learned in multiple ways. That video can be a youtube video that expands on that subject. But even cooler, that video can be in interview (possibly even live) with someone who is an authority on the subject they are learning.
Technology can also be used to assign students work that allows them to develop what they have learned in the classroom. It allows them to apply those concepts to real-life situations. And that means that they aren’t just learning academics. They are learning life!
5. Our World (and Worldview) Changes
Life changes just a bit every single day. In fact, life changes by the moment. We tend to not notice that so much. But we do notice the huge events that shape our lives. Everybody knows about the World Trade Center tragedy, when JFK was assassinated, the moon landing, and other huge events that happened. But very few people know what day the internet was invented, how computers were being used in the mid-20th century, or about specific medical advances that have been happening for decades (unless there are specific family members going through related issues maybe).
Regardless of how aware we are of the changes that are going on around the world, they all change the way we think, feel and function. And the classroom is not immune from that.
Some examples of how it affects our students and classroom are the vocabulary that we use, terminology of subjects, processes, and routines. In fact, the routines themselves change over time based of what is going on in the world around us.
Being flexible is key, as well as using change in the classroom as an educational opportunity. Kids love open communication. Thus they don’t feel left out of the loop, and they aren’t worried about what is coming next. Also, it is great preparation for the life they will live outside of the classroom, now and later.
Curriculum needs to change because everything changes. The classroom is not a bubble. In fact, it is the best place to reflect on and learn from what is going on in the world. Whether that is done through math class, science, history, social studies, literature, or any class, it still is done best when it is done with an eye on what is going on in the world.
And how much more prepared will our students be to enter into a world that they have already seen in action and learned about!