Here we begin see curriculum as something views about which are ‘changing dramatically.’ Something radical is coming into view as educational leaders articulate their work as a kind of dislodging of the authority of ‘Curriculum,’ sometimes in quite stark and even dramatic terms!
Educational leaders speak in bold terms that are libratory for teachers, while teachers continue to struggle with the tensions of curriculum as its assumed expectations – where emancipation is figured paradoxically, as something for which one needs permission. Here educational leaders subvert curriculum in the name of curriculum (specifically, in this instance, curricula of place, of community, of the students themselves and their/our futures).
The complexities of curriculum as imposed (as institutional criteria of education) and as lived are on clear view here – with teachers’ and administrators’ dispositions and language vitalizing the tensions in various ways.
Since we do not see the specific contexts of their statements we can certainly learn more about their projects (especially from SD 74 & 50 project videos) BUT ALSO we can take what these educators articulate and locate them within our own experience, as allies or foils of our own questions, reservations and aspirations as educators occupying many places: some physical, some imaginary and institutional, some governmental, and most paradoxical or divided, in tensions that we have to make choices about and explore.
In this brief video, a superintendent of schools, a school principal and two teachers clarify some of the tensions of curriculum into specific commitments, with the strong authorities of what many would call educational leadership. They live and work in three rural school districts in British Columbia, in the province’s Kootenay and Gold Trail (south of the Cariboo) regions, as well as on Haida Gwaii. The interviews took place from 2012 to 2016.
What if ‘real curriculum’ involves a kind of disavowal, of not making curriculum the ‘primary focus of the work’ of educators and, as such, may be finally where teachers may each “find my place”? Perhaps this is the key struggle of education (and it is an old one, between praxis and poesis). If this is so…what is the place of curriculum?
Some questions to consider (we recommend brief small group discussions that can each then ‘compare notes’ about the different directions opened in how such ‘complicated’ conversations can go):
How do you respond to this video?
What does it bring to mind for you?
What questions do you have upon viewing this video?
What thoughts and feelings does a Superintendent of Schools saying to “ignore curriculum” raise for you?
How much of education depends on some kind of “liberation” as described by Colleen, the school principal? What is the liberation of education to you and why is it, or could it be, important?
“This is real” vs “What we are forced to do by the government”: How, if at all, does this play out in your experience of/in education?
How much of curricular validity, in your view, requires engagement with the coercions of education (of curricular prescription, of institutional cultural codes, of its compulsory associations and institutional implication)? What engagements do you hear in this documentation? What others can you articulate? How can curriculum be different?
What are the stakes of how a teachers is…of teacher subjectivity: “I can be who I want to be”…what can this give to students, where is this found in your experience of curricula, what “makes it real”? How do clichés about ‘role models’ fail to encompass (or detract from) what is at issue here?
Where is creativity found in curriculum in Shannon’s account? What different views of ‘curriculum innovation’ have we seen so far already in this documentation pathway?
Where do you see “beauty in what education can be”?