Friday, September 8, 2017

Our Tribe of Curricularists

When he scrutinized my application paper, he asked: "Ano itong major in curriculum studies? Wala bang mas mahirap diyan?" I was disappointed with the questions and to the person. I crashed him in my mind and consoled myself by quietly cursing: "Of course, a person not from the tribe has myopic view of the culture." Little did he know, curriculum studies is one of the toughest degrees in the UP College of Education.

This opportunity to study came like a manna from heaven and served in a silver platter. Since I was teaching curriculum that time, I thought it would be an ace in the hole if I choose a specialization that I know the ropes confidently. But with my stock knowledge that I thought was enough, I writhed in shame when I discovered that, among so many dreadful disciplines that sprout like mushrooms of Egypt nowadays, curriculum studies is a discipline of its own worthy of scholarly study with its culture common to education but unique to its own. 

If I will randomly ask thirty strangers using maximum variation sampling about what is curriculum, I am a hundred percent sure of the probability of success that I would generate thirty unique answers, too. Even if one will look at the literature, there are just as many definitions as many authors. But the dramatic saying "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" does not apply in curriculum studies; the case is different. Curriculum must take a precise definition when in practice. As teachers who are supposed to be taking the curricularist role, we cannot develop a curriculum if we do not know it.

A curricularist, more than an educator, is a professional specialist interested in the process of developing, implementing and evaluating the components of the curriculum. Hence, curriculum studies is a discipline that is procedural in nature studying the intent, content, approach and evaluation. Procedure is very important. Ever wondered why many curriculum migrations often leave educators hanging in the midair in the end? It is because trainers are usually oriented to the theory only, not on the procedure which is very important in curriculum studies. 

Many teachers assume that because they are teachers, they can speak the language of curricularists "fluently". In our discussion about curriculum, somebody commented that "...in order for us to implement a responsive, appropriate and relevant curriculum." I had to correct him that implemented curriculum should evaluated based on its effectiveness and efficiency; intended curriculum on its responsiveness, appropriateness and relevance. There is thin hair in curriculum concepts that only curriculum studies can critically illuminate. 


UP Curriculum Studies Department. 
This was actually taken during my birthday at Fisher Mall, Quezon City.

People should not talk about it as if curriculum studies is any plain soap in the shelf. I encountered the same acquaintance who earlier commented about my degree. "Nakaka-intimidate naman ang course mo," he said this time. I did not crush him in my mind and hurl curse in the wind again. I take all kinds of comments as challenge to multiply the tribe and educate people on the language of curriculum.