Before: “How do you think school curricula is developed?”
I would assume other places are similar to Saskatchewan, but that might not be true. In Saskatchewan, the Ministry will hire teachers for a contract to develop curriculum. Essentially you end up with panels of teachers, and probably policy makers, or a politician or professional from the workforce. It then becomes a small think tank, where this committee works on building the curriculum together, possibly basing it off of new developments and curriculum from other provinces/states. This is of course what I expect from my prior knowledge and understanding of small parts of the process.
Comparing what I read in the article to my prior knowledge, I was not incredibly far off. According to the article, curriculum is developed mostly by politicians/policy makers. These would be the cabinet minister along with his/her army of public servants. What surprised me was the extent of how political this process is. I knew there was some politics and controversy involved, but even normal curricula development is a huge process, with lobbyists on both sides, along with businesses and other large organizations (unions, associations, professional groups). On top of this pressure, it is an ongoing process. When curricula is in active review, and also when the curricula is implemented and not in a review process, there are always lobbyists and other groups creating political pressure.
It also concerns me that some regions seem to place more emphasis on the opinions of the power figures, rather than taking input from teachers, students, parents, etc. In some of these places, the rich do almost get the full vote on what occurs for educational policy, and it is primarily for political gain/reassurance.
Another concern for me is how, in the example of Ontario, one of our fellow provinces almost went through with curricula implementation based on what was essentially a one sided argument and opinion. How they essentially took the opinion of the closest, loudest voice, wasted time and resources on that development, and later ended up scratching most of their work. This story was also reassuring and cool in my opinion, because in the end everything was corrected. They made a committee that was balanced, with one person from every group. And the instructions were simple, to collect information and derive what the public and professional opinion of their proposed change was. To top this off, once that balanced committee filtered out the results and composed a recommendation, all groups lobbying for different sides just went quiet. That balanced committee ended the tension through a represented decision. Whether or not you agree with the argument or the outcome is one thing, but we all should be able to see how amazing that result was. By making a proper, evenly represented committee, the majority opinion will formulate itself, making an easy way to avoid another 2-3 years of waste.
Personally, I like this idea of a think tank. You get the academic and professional sides of the story, the parents and students opinions, and then the policy makers and educators can translate this into something that will work in the classroom. It also ensures that the results aren’t skewed by the politician’s pressured direction, and it protects the curriculum from becoming mistakenly outdated because of uniformed educators/policy makers. It gives you the public and professional opinions, but allows the influences to be evenly distributed, and makes the policy maker’s job fairly easy afterwards. To summarize, whether for good or bad intentions, efficiency will always have its benefits.