Question: Based on my opinion, should or could I adopt dual processes (i.e., naturalistic/technological ) into your curriculum? If not, why? If yes, how so? Does such a dual approach mechanism provide more educational opportunities, or does it further polarize society?
Response: My initial task in addressing this question is to handle it the same way I teach my upper-level history students to handle essay prompts. So in this introduction, I am going to break down what this question is actually asking, give a brief answer then outline how I plan to demonstrate the reasoning for my answer. The question for this week is asking if I think two, seemingly contradictory, approaches to curriculum can be deployed simultaneously, and if so, how this will impact the larger society. These two contradictory approaches being the technological process and the naturalistic model. My brief answer to this is – yes, I do think these two approaches can be used concurrently. I will show how this can be done by first explaining the technological process with its benefits and potential drawbacks. I will then explain the naturalistic method with its benefits and potential drawbacks. After adequately defining these approaches I will show how they can be integrated successfully and end with a brief look at the societal impact of this integration of the two models.
The technological process is a very linear approach to curriculum design. It starts with examining a set of data, perhaps from a common assessment. The technological process then assesses the needs of the learners based on this data. This is followed by determining the objectives to address these needs. After the objectives are established the learning activities to best meet these objectives are selected. Lastly, the materials to best deliver the objectives through the chosen activities are chosen. There are two big benefits to this approach. The first is that it is logical and makes rational sense. The second is that it seeks to prevent any student from falling through potential cracks in the system by striving to ensure a baseline of necessary knowledge in all learners. The drawbacks to this technological approach are that it is built upon the flawed perspective of standardized testing while reducing teaching to a cold calculating science.
In contrast to the linear nature of the technological process, the naturalistic model is much more freeform in its approach to curriculum and allows the artistry of teaching to be on display. It has the goal of creating quality learning experiences for all learning and considers objectives, materials, and activities to best provide these learning objectives. The naturalistic model has the goal of producing multiple desired outcomes, and outcomes which might be different for different learners. The advantages of this model are many. It requires higher-order instruction. It is multi-modal. It can easily be cross-disciplinary. It is simultaneously responsive to all learning styles represented in a classroom full of diverse learners. Overall this approach meets quite a few, if not all, of the basic purposes of the core teaching and learning focus of education. The naturalistic method does have some drawbacks though. It is not natural and can take trial and error before teachers are comfortable with it. It can be difficult for older students who have only experienced a more linear pedagogical approach, like the technological process, to adapt to and understand. Without intentionality, some standards or objectives might not be delivered to all learners.
I, like most educators, began my teaching career with a technological approach to designing my curriculum. Quickly, though, I gravitated more towards a naturalistic approach. I did this because I wanted to make sure all students were engaged in learning. I also made this shift because teaching as an art form is more freeing than teaching as just a science. This is not to say I have completely abandoned any technological processes in my curriculum building. For almost all of my teaching career, I have taught a tested subject. This has either been in the form of teaching an AP course or teaching a subject with a state test. This being the case, I have always taken the data from assessments very seriously, whether this data be from the dreaded multiple choice type assessments or more authentic assessments tied to the various project-based units in my classroom. Whenever students are struggling with anything I make sure to address this in a more technological process, whether in small-group or whole-class re-teaching. I do this to ensure those things deemed most essential by the testing agency are not missed. The technological process can supplement my preferred naturalistic method to make sure this happens.
This dual approach to curriculum allows for the most and the best educational opportunities because it is allowing students to thrive in their own learning styles. Since the mission of public education is to provide all learners with teaching and learning, this integrated pedagogical style is best for society as a whole. It is best because society will always experience more progress with a more educated citizenry.