Welcome to the Jungle, Uwie!

I used to use these words if I come to the space with exciting experiences and many surprises. Like come to the jungle that sometimes, we will found surprising events. This happens on my journey join the curricula unit. Before, I came at SMEC, I just thought that curriculum is only the official document from the political power enforcement that I should follow. There is no choice, just involving the contents into my teaching, then the students could answer the questions in the national examination, pass the examination, and get good grades which showing that “you are the successful teacher, Uwie”. Since Peter and Bal use term of metaphors, images, hegemony, empowering, disempowering, politics, social, culture, economic, creative and imaginative thinkers, then related it into the curriculum, I just silent and think, Is it that complex? Is the curriculum that powerful?. Then, these processes stimulate me to reflect on my experiences, me and curriculum, my students and curriculum, my government and curriculum. Where am I and who am I in the curriculum? Do I have power to shape my curriculum as powerful and meaningful tools?. I talked to myself, Welcome to the Jungle Uwie!, you will find your way…

Every time I start to write my journal, I felt uncomfortable. Thinking reflectively and critically is very difficult for me. My education system and family do not support the students to reflect critically. I used to follow the common rules and stay in my comfortable zone. Furthermore, my simple thinking about curriculum forces me to stay in comfortable zone. When I started to reflect on social, cultural, political, and economic factors that influence my curriculum and my students as imaginative thinkers, I have to force myself to go out of my comfort zone. In addition, I put the other factors on this journal which is religion. I cannot ignore this factor and include the religion under the culture factors. In my country, religion is different from culture. Moreover, because the aim of national education is shaping religious generations such as believes in God. It also part of Pancasila (Indonesian Constitution Framework,1945), puts belief in God as a highest priority in all aspects of life. Therefore, religion is part of my curriculum. It will be useful for me to integrate all these factors and reflect it into my own curriculum. As a result, I could learn from it and apply it in my country.

Since I was a student and then interact with curriculum. I just thought that the curriculum is influenced by the political factor. I remember that every time my country has a new education minister, the curriculum is changed. At the first time, my curriculum was very detailed which included the content, outcomes, type of assessments, and teaching strategies, leaving no room for teacher creativity. However, it changed, since last year into the curriculum based on the life skills which gives more space for the teachers to design, implement, and evaluate their teaching. Curriculum as a powerful text that under the political power and teacher could not change it, just deliver the content within the time. Also at this time, the focus of key political players turned in the direction to globalization. The government wants to prepare the young generation to compete in globalization. A government policy mandated including English in the primary school and science teachers also should teach science by English. It is very difficult for teachers and students, because they never use English as instructional language. According to Mitchell and Boyd (2001) “Globalization, we argue, is fundamentally changing the parameters of political deliberation throughout the industrialized world, raising the stakes for education policy and changing the ground rules for its adoption and implementation” (p.60). The policy forces the students to be the people who could fulfill social needs, not to be the one who they want to be as an individual. As a powerful group, which are the “curriculum experts” (Apple, 1997), are they really experts? I am questioning myself, even though I feel that the changes that always happened in my country show that politics is very powerful factor which influence the curriculum.

Furthermore, economics factors influence the curriculum in the way of economic systems. For example, efficiency and economics, in science teaching especially chemistry, because of the economics factor, the practical works in curriculum is reduced because it is expensive. The students didn’t do the practical work and they just did it through the e-learning. Through the e-learning, the students’ computer skills will be improved and the cost of practical works will be reduced. The problem is the students’ skills on practical works in chemistry become poor, because there is a disparity in their skills when using computer simulation against actual laboratory. Furthermore, it also related to the social factors the IT skills become the priority skills that students should have. It is because the employment gives more opportunity for the people with good computer skills. The problem is not all schools have the computer facility especially the private schools which have students who come from poor family. The difference between the poor students and the rich become wider. Moreover, in my country, the jobs in science and technology fields such as a doctor and engineer are appreciated, which means they are given high status (Fensham, 1988). As a result, time allocation for science and math in primary and high school is much than other subjects. The powerful of society influence that subject as “elite and important field” (Fensham, 1988, p.7). It also influence the parents to force their children choose science and engineering in the higher education.

Related to social and culture, in my country, it is clear that social and culture as a part of curriculum. My curriculum involved the value and culture since primary school. The students should know and apply the value and culture in their life. For example, respect to parents, family is important, women’s role in the family, and so on. The teachers should educate the students to follow the social and culture value. Furthermore, the religion is also powerful in term of my curriculum. According to Marsh (2000), Teachers’ behaviour, especially the language will influence students’ values and behaviour. In my curriculum, religion is one of the obligation subjects since primary school until university. Furthermore, some religion schools should involve the religion into other subjects such as science. For example, the ethical issues in science such as euthanasia. Even though, it is still an ethical debate, but it is not allowed in the religion, as a result, there is no debate in term of these topics, because of the religion power. Therefore, students’ ability to weigh moral issues and make moral judgments is restrained in the classroom.

My journey through curricula unit, reminds me that there are several factors influence the curriculum. Even though, I prefer to choose these entire factors overlap each other. It also difficult to equally met all demand of these factors (Fensham, 1988). I realize that under these entire factors restrain me as a teacher, but I believe that there are still more space for me as a teacher to facilitate my pedagogy under these factors, especially to empowering my students as imaginative thinkers. Imaginative thinking is important, because of exploring the reality to solve problems in life and think critically need the imagination thinking. I agree that imaginative thinking could give power to transcend as a human (Young, 2003). Therefore, it is dangerous that if the teachers only use the metaphors which are curriculum as planned activities and subject matter, because the students’ imagination will be trapped (Leahy & Sweller, 2004).

Since I came at SMEC, I realize that the vision that I learn from every unit is different from the reality that I have in my country. Therefore, I prefer to choose the dialectical thinking as a part of my role in curriculum. Under the influence of politics, economics, social, culture, and religion which relate to curriculum as content and subject matter, I will use that content as a tool to empower my students as imaginative thinkers. For example, I could use the teaching strategies which could develop their imagination, through constructivist and metacognition approaches. According to Fensham (1988), teachers should “act as couriers” which bring science curriculum into their life. I will concern on empower my students as social agencies to participate in the better world without ignore their holistic as individual. I believe that every student is “an active initiator and reactor” for his or her environment (Marsh, 2000, p.215). My students could use their experiences to relate it with the subjects. It is important to empower my students to dialogue with their experiences (Pinar & Reynolds, 1992). However, I also need to explore “my students’ motivations and feelings about learning as important as the content of learning” (Arnold, 2005, p.19). Moreover, according to Apple (1997), we need work together with other groups such as decision makers to balance the influence from social, political, and economical factors. It is because I realize that the decision makers are able “to make specific decisions about what is to be taught, when, how and to whom” (Marsh, 2000, p.361). Therefore, I hope that as a teacher, I could bring voices to my society.

In conclusion, I realize that the influence of politics, economics, social, culture, and religion factors shapes my curriculum practices which restrains me as a teacher under the metaphors curriculum as content, subject matter, and cultural reproduction. However, I don’t want to be trapped in this condition, I will encourage myself to use my curriculum as a guiding to create meaningful learning experiences through there own experiences. Curriculum as a currere will be powerful metaphor for me to stimulate my learners as imaginative thinker who could participate for social reconstruction in my society.

13 thoughts on “The Influence Factors Shaped Curriculum Images”
  1. Thank you very much or this valuable information provided concerning the forces that influence curriculum. I am a graduate student in Education at the University of Liberia. I see your information very resourceful and will greatly help me in my research work and assignment.

  2. Apart from political influence ,economic and social cultural factors there are other factors which can influence curriculum,these factors may be the level of knowledge and understanding of the curriculum planers and designers,climatic condition of a certain country, political instability,special interest group like religious organisation, and communication networks.

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