Since the early 1980s, many educators have addressed the negative aspects of schooling in the United States and provided practitioners with various recommendations for how to improve them. According to Sikula (1990), the early reports of 1980s focused on public schooling while the second wave of reports have concentrated more on teacher education. The improvement of the quality of teachers has been viewed as the key to the improvement of the quality of American education.
Troen & Boles (1988) suggest the following three alternative roles for teachers for improving teaching as a profession. teachers as researchers, teachers as trainers of student teachers, and teachers as curriculum writers. McKay's (1992) and Ollmann's (1992) studies provide examples for the first two roles, respectively. For instance, according to McKay, teachers, by participating in individual and/or collaborative action research activities in schools, are able to grow personally and professionally. Similarly, Ollmann's teaming up with a student teacher provided her with the feeling of being able to contribute to the teaching profession and improved the teaching knowledge and skills of the student teacher as well.
The present effort, however, is concerned with the third role, the participation of teachers in the curriculum development process. Based on a review of the related literature, this article discusses the major characteristics and outcomes of teacher participation in the development of school curricula and the critical factors that affect teachers' willingness to be a pan of curriculum committees. The results of the present effort are significant to educational leaders who are concerned with the improvement of curriculum, teaching, and student learning in schools.
Historically, although curriculum and instruction have been at the center of school reform movements, they have been treated as separate entities and studied independently from one another (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992). Most educators have made a clear distinction between curriculum as an end and instruction as a means to the end. Curriculum has been conceptualized as a planned course of action for intended learning outcomes while instruction has been referred to as an entity dealing with how a proposed curriculum is put into action. Consequently, teachers were viewed as implementers in their classrooms of externally created curricula and instructional materials that were prescribed for them.
However, teacher participation in the development of school curricula recognizes the connection between the two important systems in the educational structure: curriculum and teaching. It is contended that the link between these two systems can only be established by the provision of a feedback mechanism and that teachers are the group of educators who will be capable of providing this necessary feedback. This is because teachers with their students in the classroom live out the curriculum their lives over time are the curriculum (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992).
Likewise, teacher participation in curriculum development is a matter of taking a position between two ideologies in the educational structure: centralization and decentralization. It simply means that die more school curricula are developed at the district or school level, the more teacher participation will take place. And, this increasingly requires educators to develop a critical understanding of how classroom teachers fit into the process of curriculum development (Haberman, 1992).
Moreover, teacher participation in curriculum development is a matter of raising and dealing with some critical questions in education: Who is responsible for determining what and how students should learn in the school? Should classroom teachers be involved in curriculum development@ If so, What should their roles be? …