Curriculum Planning/Foreword

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Curriculum Planning for Unfamiliar people in Unfamiliar places[edit | edit source]

Designing formal and informal learning experiences for unusual, unexpected, or extreme educational situations


This guide is written for you: the educator who has committed to developing curriculum for a learner group whose culture, environment, or educational history are different from your own. Developing great learning experiences -- especially for such unfamiliar situations -- is a complex, holistic undertaking, requiring as much intuition as it does skill and knowledge. Knowledge does help, certainly: it is useful to know something about educational approaches and philosophies, about what has worked in the past and what approaches are currently popular or trending. And the skills developed during front-line teaching experience are, of course, invaluable.

The intuition part takes more time to develop and it’s harder to define or package into a straightforward module about instructional design. In my experience, it is best developed through right attitude and right approach when working with the other essential partners in the learning venture, especially the learner audience and the trainer(s). What is the “right attitude”? Humility regarding your lack of knowledge about the learning environment and learning content; as well as respect for the learners, the trainer(s), and the impacted learning community. What is the “right approach”? Ask questions. Ask good questions, and – failing that – ask lots of questions. And then (most important of all) listen to the answers. Don’t even start your training plan until you’ve done a lot of listening.

This guide to planning a training curriculum is mostly just a series of questions. It is an attempt to frame some of those “good questions” and – with the answers you get – start you off with lots of material for your training plan.

One more word: the information you receive explicitly, the answers to the questions you ask, is your raw material for developing great learning experiences. But throughout your listening, you must also be listening for passion. What are people passionate about? What wishes (stated or unstated) do the learners have, what do they hope to do with what they learn? How do they see this changing their lives? What inspires the trainers? What drives them to teach? What are they most proud of from their teaching past? What does the community desire? How can this learning experience contribute to that? Because passion is the power source that will drive forward even the most poorly funded, understaffed, badly supported training plan.

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Curriculum planning requires (at least) 3 elements