Core and Creative Curriculum development are exciting fields of study. Professionals in these areas, whether educators, administrators, or curriculum specialists, pull from extensive knowledge and research in education to develop, implement, and assess innovative curricula, teaching methodologies, and pedagogies.
The overall field of education, especially in the realm of curriculum development, is ever-evolving and innovative, and professionals devoted to the subject must know of current trends. This article outlines some of the many trends shaping today’s education.
Trends in Core Curriculum Development
Before we delve into the many trends in core curriculum development, it’s important that we define the term. First, we should distinguish it from the Common Core, a frequently expressed term in education today. The Common Core is a state standards initiative that details what K-12 students should know in the areas of English and mathematics at the end of each grade level. The Common Core has been adopted by the majority of states in the U.S., and schools are implementing it now. The Common Core initiative is one example of an outcome of core curriculum development.
Core curriculum development
Core curriculum development is a facet of the field of curriculum and instruction. Professionals in this area work with governments, school districts, administrators, teachers, and students to analyze existing core curricula, develop new curricula, and evaluate outcomes. Core curricula is the collection of materials, methodologies, assessments, and sometimes pedagogies that teach students the “basics” in subjects such as math, science, social studies, and English. The core typically consists of those common courses required of all students within the realm of general education.
Within the specialty of curriculum development, there are several trends:
- The Common Core: as mentioned, the Common Core is an initiative of the U.S. government. This a more regimented style of education that creates common standards for students across the learning spectrum. It has an internationally inspired benchmark whose intention is to prepare students for success in college and beyond. Within this curriculum, students move at a relatively fast and uniform pace to meet the objectives of a program. Standard and universal metrics measure and determine students’ success.
- Digital delivery: educators and students throughout the country and world are turning to online sources to find reliable, valuable, and current information[i]. Consistent with this trend, many curricula emphasize digital teaching and learning in and out of the classroom. Numerous online programs exist to give educators and students access to materials, assignments, pedagogies, and online platforms to learn core and other subjects. In addition to enhancing traditional education, this trend further develops alternative education, distance education, and home education.
- Interest-driven education: just as colleges have historically given students opportunities to follow their interests by choosing majors, minors, and electives, “the idea of K-12 education being tailored to students’ own interests is becoming more commonplace[i]”. Numerous schools, especially private and charter schools, let students select “tracks” of learning based on their own goals and interests. In such programs, students work with advisors to design their courses of study, and teachers deliver more tailored and specialized curricula.
- Individualized education: the Common Core and numerous other curricula emphasize equality and similarity between students and their knowledge, learning styles, and learning paces. However, more and more, educators are creating and implementing other curricula that emphasize the diverse needs of individuals. This is a trend that embraces alternative pedagogies such as Critical Pedagogy and other non-banking methods of education and assessment. These curricula emphasize students’ distinct interests, learning styles, paces of learning, and needs in and out of the classroom.
21st Century skill-driven curricula: much of education today follows a trajectory set decades ago. More recently, however, a new trajectory has emerged in many areas of education, and skills such as “collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, and communication are thought to be just important as U.S. history and calculus because they’re practical skills[i]”. Skills such as these become practical in our digital era in which students’ abilities to assess quality of information, think critically about issues, and adapt quickly to changing technologies and work environments is paramount. And, as more companies emphasize collective creativity, skills in collaborative thinking and innovative implementation become critical. Accordingly, many schools are implementing curricula that teaches these newly vital skills.
Trends in Creative Curriculum Development
Creative curriculum uses “the latest research and best practices[ii]” to provide early childhood educators with resources that “create a high-quality learning environment that enables every child to become a creative, confident thinker[ii]”. The Creative Curriculum is based on “38 objectives for development and learning” that are “fully aligned with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework and state early learning standards[iii]”.
Teachers today use Creative Curriculum as a resource to enhance existing curricula or as a primary curriculum. Creative Curriculum also provides resources and coaching to parents and family members with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Technology and Curriculum Development
While much of schools’ core curriculum has been delivered via voice and hardcopy, today’s educational environment invites teachers’ use of technology.
Both elective and core curriculum benefit from teachers’ incorporation of technology in the classroom. Using technology can better prepare students to work in industries heavily dependent on technology, and teachers can keep many students more engaged by employing relevant, innovative, and engaging technology in the classroom. Given technology’s place in society, this is likely to be an ever-evolving and central theme in education’s present and future.