The concept of curriculum planning is critical to the success of development and sustainability in any organisation. In my own area of teaching the vocational courses and apprenticeship models are delivered to ensure complete integration and compliance of the current curriculum within further education, a point reiterated by Walkin (1990). Appropriate and relevant teaching and learning models should be discussed, negotiate and then discussed with students to ensure learning gaps are covered, learner’s needs are fulfilled and compliance is implemented. Enabling and empowering students allows me to mainly use the spiral method of curriculum theory, this gives the learner choice, responsibility and the power to make their own decisions whilst still working as one within a learning setting. Neary describes the model as “the planners task to ensure that the necessary content is covered but also to devise processes of learning which ensure that the wider aims of the scheme are addressed,” (2002). This in itself is a perfect theory for my own teaching methods, learners on my courses are of mixed levels of ability, various ages and indeed, as with all learners differing levels of commitment, coupled with teaching locations in sometimes adverse settings this leads to very individualised and often independent teaching and learning, a concept which I believe fits perfectly with the spiral curriculum theory.
During my research I identified the connection between the spiral curriculum method and the humanistic theory, which I believe go hand in hand in the planning and delivery of a successful curriculum of a qualification. Of course sometimes within lessons other concepts of the curriculum will inadvertently appear, including the hidden curriculum, applied covertly at times without the learners realisation. A concept expertly described by Stenhouse in Neary(2002) as “like a supermarket display, models are placed on shelves , giving us as teachers a choice of which product to use, each will have its own identity, and offer alternatives within itself. One area I believe is currently taught in this way in my lesson is the embedding of functional skills. A necessary element of my own courses but which gives adult, vocational learners in particular a feeling of panic and gloom, leading to a resistance to learning, albeit usually mild protestations. Using a hidden curriculum method to implement the relevant learning enables me as a teacher to introduce the subjects of Maths, English and Ict into a lesson within the guise of another topic. An example could be during a planned session around route planning for learners attending an employability course I would ask each learner to research the organisation for their placement, check the travel routes, costing and devise and produce a map and travel plan to reach their destination timely and with the least cost and inconvenience. Learners would embrace this task as they would see it as the next step in their qualification and would not identify the significance of the calculations and planning involved.
Of course using a “learner “ based method to integrate the curriculum for my teaching also has its disadvantages ,it has a high level of leaning towards social situated learning, which places an emphasis on learners evolving by working in like-minded groups and with learners with similar ideals as themselves. In theory the courses I teach do have an element of this which sometimes can lead to a dangerous practice of presuming there is a social connection within the group and they will ultimately work together to achieve. As many of my learners will not leave their own place of work in order to gain a qualification I believe this model is a valuable product for their environment, placing the emphasis on group learning and giving each learner empowerment and social responsibility within a shared goal and interest.