Stenhouse Curriculum Model

Stenhouse’s Curriculum Model is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes the importance of teachers being involved in the development and implementation of curriculum. It was developed by Lawrence Stenhouse, an English educational theorist, in the 1970s.

Stenhouse’s Curriculum Model is based on the idea that curriculum development should be an ongoing process rather than a fixed set of instructions that are handed down to teachers. This approach emphasizes the importance of teachers being active participants in the curriculum development process. Stenhouse believed that teachers should have a say in what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed.

Stenhouse’s Curriculum Model is based on the idea that curriculum development should be an ongoing process rather than a fixed set of instructions. This approach emphasizes the importance of teachers being active participants in the curriculum development process. Stenhouse believed that teachers should have a say in what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed.

Stenhouse’s Curriculum Model recognizes that teachers are experts in their fields and that they have valuable insights into what works best for their students. This approach encourages collaboration between teachers and between teachers and students in the development and implementation of curriculum.

The Stenhouse Curriculum Model is a process-based approach to curriculum theory that emphasizes the importance of the learning journey over the final grades or assessments. The focus is on the development of learners over time and the means by which this may be evidenced and achieved.

Stenhouse’s focus was on curriculum development as learner-centric, with an additional focus on the autonomy of the individual teacher in effecting learner development. The curricula should, therefore, not be overly prescriptive and have latitude built in so that diverse methodologies and assessments may be used at the educator’s discretion.

Process models of curriculum are concerned with the actual learning activities themselves and the development of cognitive skills in the pupil. Here, the role of the educator is conceptualized as that of a facilitator, supporting the growth of more sophisticated modes of independent learning in students.

Process models of curriculum tend to be less concerned with summative activity and more focused on the qualitative aspects of the educational experience. Terms such as “distance traveled” and “value-added” are used to measure the improvement over time a learner has shown and the boosts given to the qualitative aspects of an educational experience, respectively.

Stenhouse, the British philosopher of education, believed that curriculum development should be a collaborative process involving teachers, students, and the wider community.

At the heart of Stenhouse’s approach is the idea that the curriculum should be based on a process of inquiry, rather than simply being a set of prescribed content or skills. This means that teachers and students should work together to identify the questions, issues, and problems that are most relevant to their learning, and then develop their own strategies for investigating and addressing them.

Stenhouse believed that the curriculum should be flexible and adaptable, able to respond to the changing needs and interests of both students and teachers. This means that curriculum design should not be seen as a one-time event but as an ongoing process of reflection, evaluation, and revision.

Stenhouse’s 1975 book, “An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development,” assumes a level of independence in curriculum development at both the school and practitioner levels that is difficult to achieve in today’s context. However, Stenhouse’s theories can still be useful in informing current practice. In addition to providing an alternative perspective to the current curriculum norms, Stenhouse also presents principles for an ideal curriculum. Below are five of these principles:

  1. The use of an objectives model is limiting. Stenhouse (1978) argues against the use of an objectives-based approach to curriculum development where success is determined solely by predetermined, prescribed student outcomes, rather than how knowledge is organized. He expresses skepticism that such assessment-driven practices can provide a “systematic solution to our curricular problems” (ibid., p. 71). One might question what Stenhouse would think of the current national curriculum, which is closely linked to national testing strategies.
  2. Stenhouse suggests that curricula should be knowledge-rich and developed by experts. While this may seem unattainable, an ambitious curriculum is necessary despite the possibility of some successes and failures. The idea of ongoing curriculum development with varying levels of success is more encouraging than the idea of achieving all or nothing in terms of outcomes.
  3. According to Stenhouse, teachers play a crucial role in designing, testing, and reviewing curricula within the classroom. They should be given opportunities to develop and evaluate curricula rather than being passive participants. It is important to consider where curriculum development takes place and who evaluates its outcomes, especially if it is removed from the classroom context.
  4. Stenhouse believes that collaboration among teachers and researchers is crucial in supporting curriculum development, even though individual teachers are key actors. He recommends that teachers work together to create the best possible curriculum and suggests that educational researchers are well-suited to supporting this process. By learning from one another, curriculum design can become an ongoing process of exploration and evaluation.
  5. For Stenhouse, the development of individual teachers is fundamental to successful curriculum development. He critiques curriculum development that does not focus on professional learning for teachers, arguing that centralized objectives create a kind of “teacher proofing.” Stenhouse believes that quality CPD opportunities are essential for teachers to become successful, autonomous curriculum developers, stating that “there can be no educational development without teacher development.”

Stenhouse’s work presents an opportunity to think beyond the current curriculum context, despite the idealistic nature of his ideas in today’s education system. He sees teachers’ work in curriculum making as a form of action research, which is systematic inquiry made public. This teacher inquiry is valuable for broader institutional dissemination through discussions of findings with colleagues. By utilizing Stenhouse’s theory, it is possible to realize the curricular approach we desire.

Still, in Lawrence Stenhouse’s book “An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development,” he argues against using behavioral objectives as the basis for the curriculum and instead proposes an inquiry-based approach to learning. He emphasizes the importance of inquiry and discovery in developing learners’ understanding and allowing for the emergence of unintended learning outcomes, which may not be specified in the objectives and are not necessarily assessed.

Stenhouse’s model does not prescribe the content and structure of learning using aims and objectives. Instead, it advocates the use of loosely framed objectives in which learners can explore and discover within the subject or area of study. 

Components Of Stenhouse Curriculum Model

The components of Stenhouse Curriculum Model are:

1. Content

The first step of Stenhouse’s model involves the selection of content, which is much more specific than objectives. 

2. Methods

The second step, methods, encompasses an understanding of teaching methodology and how the content from step one should be taught to the students. 

3. Evaluation

The final step of the model involves evaluation, which examines the content and methods using effective formative and summative mechanisms.

Stenhouse’s process model is centered on the proposition that education is concerned with the development of intellectual or cognitive abilities. Thus, what is crucial to this process is not the acquisition of a vast body of knowledge but rather the processes of development that are prompted.

According to Stenhouse, a curriculum is like a recipe in cookery. It is first imagined as a possibility and then subject to experiment. The curriculum offered publicly is a report on the experiment. A curriculum should be grounded in practice, describing the work observed in classrooms. Finally, within limits, a curriculum can be varied according to taste.

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