DepEd's Spiral Curriculum
Read more on this topic in DepEd's Spiral Curriculum II.
"Mapapagbuti na natin ang kaalaman ng mga mag-aaral sa Agham at Matematika sa pagsusulong ng spiral approach sa ating bagong curriculum," the DepEd chief said. (With the spiral approach in the new curriculum, we will improve learning in math and science)
Note: DepEd's current approach to reforming the basic educational system in the Philippines is an example of a spiral approach. DepEd tries to cover too many things at one time, without focus and prioritization. DepEd does not see the importance of "First Things First", the importance of prerequisites, the essence of mastery. In a layered reform, as opposed to spiral, the roots of the problems are first addressed: shortages, before boldly taking ambitious programs that are not going to be supported properly. In this spiral approach, DepEd is more likely to take a vicious circle or a downward spiral.
|"If we do not think spirally, why do we have to learn or teach spirally? And this is what makes it so difficult. There are many right words in the quote and the right intentions. But, as long as the fundamentals are wrong, the pedagogy behind the spiral approach is not viable.|
Concepts - classes - are not organized in a single hierarchy. Rather there is a web of related classes in which a variety of hierarchies can be distinguished. Recognizing individual hierarchies is as important as discerning relationships between the classes. But spirals?"
Figure and caption taken from http://www.cut-the-knot.org/Mset99/examples.shtml
Studies from the US and Canada:
"American schools follow a "spiral curriculum" in mathematics; that is, they spend such a substantial proportion of time on review each year that only limited progress can be made with new material…. American students who perform poorly in arithmetic are subject to a special form of the spiral curriculum, which might be termed the circular curriculum": they repeat arithmetic over and over until they stop studying math" (Gamoran, 2001, p. 138)"
Gamoran, A. (2001). Beyond curriculum wars: Content and understanding in mathematics. In T. Loveless, Ed., The Great Curriculum Debate, pp. 134-162. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Things don't add up in BC
"Reading and math are the two crucial elementary school subjects required for high school and life beyond, but British Columbia's elementary math curriculum is crippling learning, especially among disadvantaged students.
B.C. has used what is called a "spiral" curriculum since 1987, following a tradition of emulating U.S. educational practice.
A spiral curriculum runs a smorgasbord of math topics by students each year, the idea being that they pick up a little more of each with every pass. In reality, the spin leaves many students and teachers in the dust.
Ideally, the curriculum should cover fewer topics per year in more depth.
Presently, teachers face having Grade 4 classes who still cannot add 567 + 942 nor multiply 7 x 8 because the Grade 1, 2, and 3 teachers were forced to spend so much time on graphing, polygons and circles, estimating quantity and size, geometrical transformations, 2D and 3D geometry and other material not required to make the next step, which is 732 x 34.
And because elementary math fails to provide a solid foundation, many basically capable students simply give up when faced with the shock of high school algebra, which would be the doorway to advanced technical training at all levels. High school math teachers cannot make up Grades 1 to 7 while teaching Grade 8."
Refocusing U.S. Math and Science Education
"This persistence of old topics and lack of instructional focus on topics that are newly introduced at each grade may help explain the drop in U.S. student achievement levels between grades 4 and 8. The persistence of elementary content in middle school suggests that the lauded "spiral curriculum" in the United States is in fact a vicious circle."
The DepEd has been using the terms "spiral curriculum" and "learner-centered" without providing details to the public what these really entail and require.
|A kindergarter classroom layout for literacy|
Figure taken from http://teacher.scholastic.com/literacy_centers_photos/
|A kindergarten classroom|
Figure taken from http://kpoindexter.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/2011-2012-classroom-pictures-after/
In high school, the "spiral curriculum" not only requires good teachers who could handle multiple disciplines, but also a different type of textbook. Students cannot have four textbooks each year for example, for the sciences to cover all four areas of the spiral curriculum: biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences. Using four separate textbooks will not define how each of these areas will be covered in each year of high school. In fact, one of the materials in school that operationally defines what will be covered is the textbook. Thus, without a textbook, the content of these science courses will be unclear.
The public is not made aware of the details. Instead, the DepEd simply throws these terms in a rhetorical fashion, promising that these are the solutions to the country's present problems in math and science education. Unfortunately, these are not the solutions. These are additional problems.