Why choose an alternative curriculum?

For anyone that is unfamiliar with the difference between regular curriculum and alternative curriculum. It is simple, an alternative curriculum is one that differs from the national or provincial curriculum that is given to other students. The next question is why would someone change what is taught and why are some kids getting taught one thing while others are getting taught something different.

Although a national curriculum is a great concept, everyone learning the same thing, the same year, so on and so forth, which allows us to keep everyone on track. It is unrealistic to think that the same things that affect a child on the east coast affect children in the middle of the country and on the west coast. It is also irresponsible for teachers to assume that students in the same geographic location will learn the same or that we can teach them all the same. So the question is then what?

Curriculum should be based on three main concepts: subject matter, society and student, however many educators know that many times something is left out.  Many times curriculum designers develop programs that are inadequate because they fail to incorporate or are unable to incorporate all three focus areas. For those of us that teach special education we know what is left out, it is the student. So what do we do, well we create an alternative curriculum.

I believe that we create an alternative curriculum most often to avoid permanently excluding students from school. To make a program that increases student engagement by focusing on their interests. This means designing programs towards a similar characteristic or need for the students in a given class. The question is how, and that is going to be different for each teacher depending on where they are and the make up of their classrooms.

Here is a example of a teacher who, created an alternative classroom, catering her lesson, especially in this case to the needs, abilities and back grounds of her students.

Like Erin, I believe that a course or curriculum should work on the competences of your students. These are their ability to learn and manage information, their ability to manage situations and lastly to relate to people. I also strongly believe that there are two specific areas that should be incorporated into any alternative curriculum, actually they should be incorporated into all curriculum and they are Character Education and leadership.

Before I leave you I will tell why I so strongly believe in make changes and creating an alternative program. A different program often leads to cooperation between students and staff, but more importantly it improves and develops better relationships. Changing perceptions of Unteachable to Misunderstood.


12 thoughts on “Why choose an alternative curriculum?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why choose an alternative curriculum? « Learning to Lead, Inspiring to Change -- Topsy.com

  2. I so agree. I am waiting with much trepidation to see how RttT and core standards are going to affect Special Education and what I am going to be required to teach.

    • If there is any way I can help, just ask when you are informed of what your class is going to look like. It is difficult to be told what to teach, especially when the individuals making the decisions have no idea or interest in what the dynamics of your classroom looks like. Don’t worry you’ll be fine and there are many of us out here that will gladly help, just shout.

    • I look forward to taking a look. It works very similar in Alberta. There are general items that are suggested or required, however the order, focus and methodology of presentation are up to the classroom teacher. Thank you so much for the link I will be sure to check it out and send it out to my friends in special education.

  3. There seem to be links between NZ and Canada as far as some of our curriculum development has gone. The only compulsory part of our curriculum are the Vision – Young people who are confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners and The Principles: High expectations, Treaty of Waitangi (indigenous rights), Cultural Diversity, Inclusion, Learning to Learn, Community Engagement, Coherence and Future Focus. The rest of the curriculum is negotiable and each school can develop their won vision, values curriculum development plan and so on, based on the uniqueness of the school and the needs of its students and community. My job is helping schools to develop their school- based curriculum. It can be a very powerful experience!

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why choose an alternative curriculum? « Learning to Lead, Inspiring to Change -- Topsy.com

  5. I agree, there are many similarities in the Educational system in Canada and New Zealand. Much like the similarities in the country, life style and the atmosphere created by its people. There are some differences though and I think that maybe that here our curriculum will vary based on where you are in the country provincially. The similarities may exist in the resources used. In Alberta we have specific expectations that must be met in relation to curriculum outcomes, however the approach and manner in which the outcome is presented, achieved and measured is ultimately up to individual school divisions and the teachers, principal and such within them. Taking a look at the compulsory elements of your curriculum, ours are very similar they are either worded differently or are considered as objectives rather than complete sections. I think I would really enjoy doing what you do, as I am responsible for the interpretation, modification, delivery, analysis and evaluation of curriculum within my classroom. I look forward to sharing ideas with you in relation to resources, curriculum approach and interpretation and stories. I trust that we will have a significant amount to talk about over the year and look forward to it. Thanks again for commenting and following.
    We should see if our administration would consider a teacher exchange. It has been 10 yrs since my last visit to New Zealand.

  6. Yes I figured we were quite close in many ways – we had an educator from Quebec talk to us last year and we were certainly on the same page. Unfortunately we are going through a national standards nightmare this year and it has tended to take the focus of the curriculum which schools are supposed to have implemented this year. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back to the curriculum.

    An exchange sounds wonderful – I’m sure there are opportunities. Unfortunately for us the Government are dis-establishing the existing PD system and our organisation wont exist after the end of next year. Teacher support services have been government funded and free to schools for around 60 years. The schools are incredibly upset but we have a government that is definitely anti teachers – makes for tough times.

    Having said that there are some amazing schools doing brilliantly innovative programmes and that’s what the new curriculum allows.

  7. We are experiencing some similar changes here, however our counterparts to the south are the ones feeling the most disrespect in relation to their profession. I think it will be awhile before such drastic changes occur in Canada.

    Could you believe that many states in the US evaluate teachers based on how the students they teach preform on a standardized test. It baffles me, but that what happens when government is more interested in results and statistics that what is being learned and how it is being learned.

    I am going to guess that you follow me on twitter, so I would ask that you Direct Message me so that we can share ideas and conversations without having to use such an open format.

    Talk to you soon.

  8. Hello im concenr because my son is going to start an alternate curriculum class. My most concern about it is that i have heard that when they graduate from high school he wontget a diploma. Is that true?

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