My first year teaching, when I was in the throws of just adjusting to
teaching and all that entails, I was asked to write curriculum. I
hardly had a clue, and I was on my own. I spun my wheels, I researched
and researched (and this was before I was using a computer and had
internet access) and unfortunately I spent too much time reinventing
too many wheels. I look back now on that curriculum I wrote then
and boy what a lousy job I did by myself. A few years into my job, I
was given the title "Department Head" and now that title has become
"Curriculum Leader." ... and I have become the queen of curriculum
What did I learn:
Curriculum is not lesson plans, nor is it a personal agenda. It's a
guide -- should any teacher have to come in and take over a class at
any given time, that person has an outline as to goals and objectives
and content to be achieved at a certain grade level.
The content is "the big idea." Ask compelling questions.. ( Why
draw? ) and work backward from the question.
The content is sequential. Skills , techniques and ideas build on each
The content is supplemented with suggested instructional strategies,
but allow it to be open enough that any teacher can include a
particular approach to accomplish the objective.
Curriculum needs to be a cooperative effort within the department. No
one should dictate. Every body needs to come to common agreement on
objectives. ( By the way, I read tons and tons of lessons on the
internet and see too many objectives that are activities and not
learning outcomes.) What do you want the student to learn -- not what
you want them to do.
If you are bound to the standards make sure you understand the
standards and incorporate each one of them
There are hundreds of curriculums published on the internet. You can
research them and use them as a reference, but you must remember that
what you write as curriculum is something you are bound to. Don't
write something you don't intend to do. It's real easy to cut and
paste, but you have to believe in what you are cutting and pasting.
Remember that you are an ART teacher and not a purveyor of standards.
Remember what it is that makes you think like an artist-- capture the
big ideas and then the mapping doesn't come so hard. When I started I
wanted my curriculum to look like everyone else --- and then I
remembered that I teach ART and now I want every body else to look like
Twist and turn that content to give the best opportunity for every
child to have the freedom to make the best communication of their own
personal expression to meet the standards we are not so sure as artists
should be the driving force.
And the last thing I learned with writing curriculum -- you can
manipulate the jargon to meet anything you see as valid instruction
and discovery. It's a necessary chore that makes you think very hard
about what is most important in what you present. Certainly art
curriculum has come very very far from cookie cutter solutions and we
delve deeply into issues and concerns that meet the needs and concerns
of our students. I have come to love the brainstorming among my staff
on what is pertinent , relevant and applicable to art instruction and
the critical role the student observation, through all forms of media,
plays in our society today.
We have the gift of bringing a past traditions to future forward
thinking and using all we have to make critical /creative thinking the
most valued commodity in a society that is not sure what it values.