Curriculum gaps-- a consistent threat against deep learning?
This is the era of reform and innovation in the the American education system. While effects are still being measured, current reform and innovation seems not to push the needle on longstanding systemic improvement deep enough. We have made immense strides in education technology, new schools, restructuring governing bodies, and stretching the education ecosystem, but the quality and breadth of what we teach students has remained the same or even declined in some cases. The curriculums have become standard to pass high-stakes tests. On a micro- level, I've seen extended learning time turn into rugged two hour test prep situations in high schools and elementary schools failing to teach social studies or have other academic subjects outside of those tested. Curriculums are standards-based and not student-centric.
For instance, parent's don't understand this, as they call it, " new math", from the common core. It attempts to teach logical and quick math to be mentally expansive. Instead it created a divide in parental homework help effectiveness and confidence in helping their young scholar. The desire for 21st Century Skills to be concrete skills children develop before they leave the schooling environment (P-16) into the workforce is clear and warranted. However, curriculums that want to teach creativity, curiosity, problem solving, and critical thinking must be that as well. American public schooling is the bedrock of our society, but also the bedrock of civility. For example, curriculums that support a Eurocentric revisionist history or math that is not transferrable to science and ELA class are old and antiquated. They must be revised.
We need curriculums that highlight the diversification of American society and inherently teaches equality, citizenship, finance math, digital, and humanities. We need to teach children how to read in ways that are supportive and energizing. We should not be categorically labeling to detriment to a scholars' self esteem. We need curriculums that are STEAM-based and innovative ( ie. transmedia.) Children have attention spans that are unique, are multi-intellectual, and have more screen distractions. Neuroscientist David Eagleman claims that "There are actually tests you can do to look at the ways the brain is very different to how they looked a generation ago. The question is how do educators meet them halfway. Kids [today] are different. Is it ADHD if they can’t pay attention to a boring lecture? Possibly not. That’s not ADHD, that’s just a boring lecture. They have actually grown up used to a certain rate of intake of information.There are actually tests you can do to look at the ways the brain is very different to how they looked a generation ago. The question is how do educators meet them halfway. Kids [today] are different. Is it ADHD if they can’t pay attention to a boring lecture? Possibly not. That’s not ADHD, that’s just a boring lecture. They have actually grown up used to a certain rate of intake of information." Children are also dealing with high levels of anxiety about the violence wreaking havoc on our nations schools.
Fortunately, there are stakeholders in the education ecosystem creating solutions. The Grantmakers for Education wrote this report on the curriculum gap. You also have nonprofits like The Brownie Collective and The Langston League addressing the curriculum gap in innovative ways. There are educators like Christopher Edmin (author of For White Folk who Teach in the Hood) who are attempting to close the cultural competency gap in our schools that are changing and reflecting shifting populations of people.