The need to bolster the global education sector has prompted the integration of curriculum focusing on current and modern issues. Today, there are emphases on the fact that education is not only about examinations but also future life in the social, economic, and political sectors. There are leaders in place who play an integral role in overseeing and controlling curricula in various educational settings. However, the myriads of challenges and shortfalls in educational settings have resulted in curriculum leaders finding themselves in frustrating situations and times. Rarely are teacher education programs designed in socio-historical vacuums, and this has for a long time presented unique challenges to curriculum leaders (Stephenson, 2010). The role played by curriculum leaders is inclined towards the examination, analysis, and making of significant decisions that target at enhancing the relevance of modern education curricula to modern times. Among curriculum leaders in educational sectors are teachers.
There are numerous contemporary curriculum issues that strain the efforts made by teachers in the management and maintenance of curriculum as well as the delivery of services to students. For example, a dominant issue is that of teacher domination versus pupil planning. It is notable that with the change in times and the inception of various forms of technology such as the Internet, modern day learners can have self-direction without over-depending on teacher directed classes. This is just but one of the several factors that prompt the change in curricula used by various educational institutions in different parts of the world. With these perspectives in mind, the focus is shifted to various studies that focus on curriculum leadership issues. The paper also gives a detailed discussion of the importance and benefits of having embracing a curriculum that concentrates more on preparing students for the future.
Review of literature
Philosophical, sociological, and psychological conflicts
Hollis Caswell in thearticle Significant Curriculum Issues commences by underscoringthefactthat curriculum leaders, particularly in American schools and colleges, encounter complexities whenimplementing curricula requirements. In thestudy, it is notablethatthedifficultiesfaced by curriculum leaders are as s result of severalfactors, some of which are preventable. First, a significantfact is thatphilosophical, sociological, andpsychologicalconflicts in educationalsettingsandinstitutionshaveplayed a crucialrole in jeopardizing curriculum implementation andenforcement. Irrefutably, thepurposesorbenefits of education, the nature of learningprocedures, the nature of learners, andthe societal roles of educationalinstitutions are oftencontained in various curricula. In case of eruption of philosophical, sociological, andpsychologicalconflicts in schools, interpretationanddevelopment of curriculum are at risk, andthis has been a majordrawback in curriculum leadership (DeMatthews, 2014).
Caswell opines that another contemporary issue or challenge that interferes with curriculum leadership is the ever-increasing burden of responsibility that schools have placed upon them. Every mistake committed by students or children while outside school is blamed on the teachers, school, and type of education or knowledge instilled in a learner. In day-to-day life, needs of young people press more heavily upon schools. On the other hand, Caswell states that when there are excessive or a drastic increase in accidents on roads, calls for driver and pedestrian training in educational institutions is often seen to rise. Moreover, an increase in divorce rates often calls for education in sexual and family relations in educational institutions. In situations where members of the society exhibit emotional instability, there are calls for personal guidance and counseling knowledge that must be imparted in educational institutions. Although these are but samples of social needs that press for attention in schools, they compromise curriculum leadership and management.
There are instances when the social needs result in regular changes and amendments of the curriculum, and this jeopardizes curriculum leadership. Caswell underlines the factors as mentioned earlier by exploring the American educational system. According to Caswell, the US is at the forefront in providing extended educational opportunities that adjust to the societal needs, an attempt that has not been seen before in any other country worldwide. An encouraging fact is that this attempt by the US government has been successful in a few regions and parts of the country though the move towards it in the country has been gradual and steady. The implication of these efforts is that schools in America have been forced to pursue largely unexplored courses, and this in extension has challenged curriculum leadership.
Learner and Market-centered discourses
According to Parkes (2013), the global educational sector in its efforts to develop curriculum has faced the challenge of the learner and market-centered discourses. That is to say, modern education focuses on the production of students who are readily absorbed in the employment sector. Parkes’ study explores Australia’s education and curriculum. He mentions that myriads of reports indicate that one of Australia’s largest export industries is tertiary education sector, and this is because of the changes that have been introduced to the area since the late 1980s. According to Parkes (2013), some of the changes made to Australia’s tertiary education sector include the embrace of neoliberal new public management discourses, which have significantly refashioned academic identities and practices in the country. Parkes (2013) argues that the transformation and integration of learner and market-centered discourses in Australian educational system is largely attributed to government interventions and interferences in the sector. Mainly, the Australian government aims at increasing the institutions’ accountability for the public funding and support provided to them. Despite the positives accompanying the government interventions, curriculum leaders have been at crossroads on how to develop and manage educational curricula.
Quality of education
Parkes (2013) subsequently states that the debated circulating around the delivery of ‘quality’ education in institutions of higher learning in Australia has prompted frequent changes in the curriculum, and this has been a hurdle in the strides towards effective curriculum development and leadership. To have quality education Parkes states explicitly that the Australian government pushed for the establishment of the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) in 2000. AQUA has played a part in promoting higher educational institutions in the country to be accountable and measure their performance. These interventions that insist on ‘quality’ education have prompted changes in curriculum, and this to some extent is a contentious issue facing curriculum leaders in Australia as underscored by Parkes (2013).
Human inequities, outdated programs, and lax standards
Like every other sector, the educational sector is jeopardized by human inequities that results in frequent conflicts among instructors and learners. Also, the change in time and technology exposes outdated programs and lax standards in the global education sector. Mullen (2012) in the study Curriculum Leadership Development: A Guide for Aspiring School Leaders states that the mental images of curriculum leaders differ when focus is shifted to human inequities, outdated programs, and lax standards exhibited in educational settings. Mullen (2012) opines that with these elements dominant in the global education sector, administrators and curriculum leaders will have no concern for curriculum improvement and development. Also, they will have a low tolerance for problems caused by interferences directed at the curriculum. The study emphasizes on the fact that collaboratively oriented curriculum leaders are involved in conversations about the forward and future developments in professional learning communities and all individual instructors.
However, human inequities restrict the struggle and efforts by the leaders to develop and improve curriculum through getting involved in such conversations. Mullen (2012) states that effective and efficient curriculum leaders are more concerned with the embrace and integration of current and relevant learning programs. That is to say, they focus and look forward to the lifelong academic success of their learners. On the other hand, they strive to avoid committing mistakes and making quick decisions that are uninformed that could adversely affect the students and the community as a whole. Mullen (2012) is of the opinion that these efforts by curriculum leaders face challenges when human inequities, outdated programs, and lax standards become dominant in educational institutions.
Demands of learning
According to Cantwell and Scevak (2010), to understand the intellectual environment of learning in various educational institutions, there is need to make sense of the attributes of educational curricula; that they get are hard and even get harder as the learning process continues. Cantwell and Scevak (2010) go ahead to mention that the difference in demand for university and secondary level education is the primary reason for the different challenges faced by curriculum leaders in both education levels. This underscores the fact that the demand for learning also prompts regular changes in educational sectors, and this in turn interferes with the efforts of curriculum leaders channeled towards curriculum development and improvement. Cantwell and Scevak (2010) also state that it is expected that students in the secondary level of education acquire knowledge within particular domains as well as generalizing about topics that are limited and closed in a way.
Apparently, such outcomes of learning especially at the secondary school level are not primarily integrated into coherent discipline structures, and this forces frequent changes and amendments to a curriculum. The latter is jeopardy to curriculum leadership, and many teachers who usually play a role in the development and management of curriculum pull out. They add that transitions in educational settings particularly in university level have influenced the rise of expectations in terms of the understanding levels of learners. Despite the transitions, the capacities to acquire and structure the expected levels of understanding are insufficient, and this is one of the issues that curriculum leaders face in their stride and efforts towards the development and improvement of curriculum (Glatthorn et al, 2005). Based on these perspectives, it is evident that the as time and technology changes, the demands of learning in every educational level increases, and this prompts rapid changes to the curriculum, and this is an issue of great concern for curriculum leaders.
Lack of relevant knowledge on curriculum leadership
Chen and Kompf (2012) articulate that the main of curriculum leadership is to focus on the improvement of the status of the curriculum, instruction, as well as the promotion of curriculum reform in educational institutions. They add that curriculum leadership is a dynamic process that embraces constant amendments and changes. Moreover, the emphasis on the attitudes and professionalism of instructors in every educational institution is attributed to the efforts channeled to curriculum leadership.
However, a major challenge faced by curriculum leaders is the lack of relevant knowledge to facilitate the development and improvement of curriculum at various educational levels. Chen and Kompf (2013) opine that principals and other heads of various educational institutions play a key role in curriculum leadership, and thus, they should be equipped and prepared with relevant knowledge on curriculum leadership. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in several educational settings, and this is a reason behind the fact that curriculum leadership is compromised.
In their study of Chinese Scholars on Western Ideas about Thinking Leadership, Reform and Development in Education more emphasis is placed on the fact that curriculum leaders ought to be at the forefront in pushing for improvements and developments of curriculum, and these cannot take place without them be equipped with advanced professional knowledge on the same. The study suggests that to eradicate this challenge, curriculum leaders need to use multiple methods to acquire the much-needed curriculum leadership knowledge through involvement in research seminars that train people on curriculum leadership, sending experts in the educational sector particularly teachers to attended development activities and so on. In addition, various theories aimed at enhancing knowledge on curriculum leadership should be applied to teaching practice in educational institutions.
Importance of having a curriculum that prepares students for the future
Without a doubt, modern-day education or curriculum has changed drastically, and instead of focusing on current values, it has shifted focuses on what the future has in store for learners. In such as curriculum, skills integrated by learners are about their thinking process and behaviors and how they are likely to influence the understanding of content as well as be used in future life. Easier storage, retrieval, and use of information by learners in future are dependent on the organization of curriculum. That is to say, a well-organized and structured curriculum could be easily stored, retrieved and used by learners in future. Most importantly, having a curriculum that prepares students for the future is beneficial in various ways. First, such a curriculum undoubtedly helps connect the content and knowledge learned by students or learners in future real-world applications and problem situations (Perkins, 2014). In this case, the knowledge and skills imparted to the learners is authentic and is of great relevance and mirrors real life. Today, every educational institution and level strives to embrace and introduce curricula that to some extent aid in the preparation of learners for future life.
It should also be noted that through stressing on curriculum that prepares students for future life, the understanding of the learners is enhanced. This is because such a curriculum imparts practical skills and knowledge that is easily and fast understood by learners at every educational level. In addition, a curriculum that prepares students for future life focuses on projects and problems that force students or learners to use the content knowledge learnt in new ways, and this extends and enhances their levels of understanding as they collaborate with others students. Primarily, understanding is one of the hallmark objectives of every curriculum, and the fact that curriculum that prepares students for future life enhances understanding increases the chances of its integration in educational institutions worldwide.
While preparing for future life, learners are prompted to be well aware of meta-cognitive activities that will help them reflect on the use of thinking structures as well as the effectiveness of the thinking strategies they used while undergoing the educational process at every level of education. Thus, the significance of having a curriculum that prepares learners for the future is evident in the fact that it plays a key role in helping students understand and monitor the thinking process they use while going through the educational process (Ho, 2010).
It is also agreeable that future life of learners will be dependent on technology. With this perspective in mind, a curriculum that prepares learners for future life is of great significance because it stresses the use of technology by learners to access, analyze, organize, and share the aspects learned among them (Beers, 2011). Such a curriculum also stresses the need for students to work independently in preparation for future life, and as a result learners acquire the ability of independently locating appropriate tools for various tasks.
Having a curriculum that prepares learners for future life is also of great benefit, and this is attributed to the fact that it facilitates the development of life and career skills through the creation of opportunities for students to become learners who are independent and self-directed. Such a curriculum also stresses on learners taking responsibility for their won learning and how to work effectively with other people, and this indicates learners’ preparation for future life. Another fact that cannot be ignored is that curriculum that prepares learners for future life plays a crucial role in helping them make connections between subjects, concepts, as well as ideas and with others not leaving out those outside the classroom settings (Beers, 2011).
There are myriads of challenges and shortfalls in various educational settings hat have resulted in curriculum leaders finding themselves in frustrating situations and times. Also, it is agreeable that the role played by curriculum leaders is inclined towards the examination, analysis, and making of significant decisions that target at enhancing the relevance of modern education curricula to modern times. Among curriculum leaders in educational sectors are teachers, and there are several contemporary curriculum issues that strain the efforts made by teachers in the management and maintenance of curriculum as well as delivery of services to students. Several studies identify the issues faced by curriculum leadership. For example, Hollis Caswell is of the opinion that philosophical, sociological, and psychological conflicts and societal needs have to some extent jeopardized curriculum leadership. The issues faced by curriculum leadership in global educational institutions are largely attributed to the introduction of learner and market-centered discourses in educational institutions.
Other curriculum leadership issues as seen in other studies include the emphasis on quality education, human inequities, outdated programs, and lax standards, demands of learning processes in various educational institutions, and the lack of relevant knowledge on curriculum leadership. The benefits of a curriculum that prepares students for the future are also of great concern. Such a curriculum is seen to influence the understanding of content, extends and enhances learners’ levels of understanding as they collaborate with others students and facilitates the development of life and career skills through the creation of opportunities for students to become learners who are independent and self-directed.
Beers, S. (2011). 21st century skills: Preparing students for their future.
Cantwell, R. H., & Scevak, J. J. (2010). An academic life: A handbook for new academics. Camberwell, Vic: ACER Press.
Chen, S., & Kompf, M. (2012). Chinese Scholars on Western Ideas about Thinking, Leadership, Reform and Development in Education. Rotterdam: Springer.
DeMatthews, D. E. (2014). How to Improve Curriculum Leadership: Integrating Leadership Theory and Management Strategies. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 87(5), 192-196.
Glatthorn, A. A., Boschee, F., & Whitehead, B. M. (2005). Curriculum Leadership: Development and Implementation. SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320.
Ho, D. C. W. (2010). Teacher participation in curriculum and pedagogical decisions: Insights into curriculum leadership. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 38(5), 613-624.
Parkes, R. J. (2013). Challenges for Curriculum Leadership in Contemporary Teacher Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(7), n7.
Perkins, D. N. (2014). Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world. San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass & Pfeiffer Imprints, Wiley,
Stephenson, L. (2010). Developing curriculum leadership in the UAE. Education, Business