Does the Curriculum Limit Learning?

I think the big question regarding this week’s topic is not, ‘will education change due to technology?’, because I think it surely has and that it is. The question in my mind is, ‘why is it changing so slowly?’. In the video below, Dr. Madhav Chavan makes a very good point by suggesting that we are merely using technology as a tool to match with our linearly designed educational system. Whereas, technology itself is not linear which creates conflict between the two. He finishes his explanation with this great quote, “right now, the technology is only a helper in the current, inefficient system”.

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I feel that watching this video answers my question above, along with this week’s assignment question as well. To answer the question, ‘will education change due to technology?’ I now see the answer as, ‘if we as educators allow it to’. And to answer my question, I believe the educational system is moving so slowly because we are only using technology to support a very linear and limiting curriculum, instead of the opposite. Let’s think for a little bit about how we use technology (for the most part) in our classrooms. We use it to; record videos and capture images, to create fancy posters and engaging presentations, give students real time feedback, do quick extensive research, etc… All great things in my opinion, but now that I think about it, all really just demonstrating understanding of the curriculum standards in techie ways that make it just a tool to support the (pretty much) same system that had always been in place.

What do we do then, if we really want to take advantage of this opportunity for students? As stated in the article, ‘The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New’ By Prakash Nair, “The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills. Classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands.” So another question I have based on this, is ‘what is the purpose of school now?’.
A new aspect of education that I feel can fit into this is Problem-Based learning, which I think is a start. It’s fun and engaging to start class with a problem and give the student the time to find the answer, while they use the internet and work and learn from others. This is a very debatable scenario, but it’s starting to make sense that we could just pose problems for student and allow them to learn while solving it. A teacher could be the one who asks the students good questions and prompts them to reflect. A teacher could also be great at giving feedback. Do we really need to teach kids basic Math or could we just engage them with a problem or task that forces them to want to learn and therefore, learn how to learn? Could this be the start?

2 Replies to “Does the Curriculum Limit Learning?”

  1. Rob,

    I loved reading your post because it resonates well with my first week blog post: Using vs. Integrating technology into our classroom. Here is the link to my post and how I perceived it as complimentary and whenever I chatted with friends I always seemed to understand them when they did not advocate for tech as much link to

    I also loved reading this line ‘what is the purpose of school now?’ because I have thought about it this for so long now. As a grade 5 teacher, I always felt, for my students to be successful in their academic life later on, all I should really be teaching them is how to read for understanding and learn to think/reflect about their reading, understand number sense and be able to see patterns in math and the logic behind it (because math is logic and reasoning), and the biggest skill they need to be equipped with is the ability to answer the following question ‘how do I learn best? what is my learning style?’ and ‘how can I reflect on my work, and me as a learner, to improve in the future?’

    The problem does not only stem from teachers, the problem also stems from the community and mainly the parents who pay those tuitions and want their kids to be taught the same things, and more, as they have been taught. After all they were successful with this system. After all to become a financial analyst you need to memorize those math facts – as I was told that by a parent when she confronted me and told me I wasn’t spending enough time on math facts in class three years ago. I think as mentioned in Eric Mazur’s video: Confession of a converted Lecturer link to, when you ask the proper questions, the learning happens. The content my be less, but the acquisition of the taught/covered content will be much higher. Isn’t that the purpose of education today? to teach a way of thinking and to learn how to be self-direct so that when you need more information about something you can learn it yourself – through a book or wikipedia? Or ask google home… hahahaha.. have you seen that commercial? Enjoy! link to


  2. Rob, when I saw the title of your post I was immediately drawn in. I too believe that the curriculum, funny enough, can limit learning. Your comments about using technology within the linear system are spot on! Packaging up our work with technology is cool but it isn’t getting to the core or what needs to be changed about education.

    In this post I site John Dewey’s recognition of the curriculum as something that could limit learning (link to He says that we have to try and find a way to balance the formal and the informal. This he said this over 100 years ago and yet we still rely way too heavily on the formal.

    You then talk about obseletism, you mention Prakash Nair who brings up great insights into the irrelevance of our classroom and systemic structures. It’s so true! We need to change this! They are Elephants in the Classroom as Will Richardson would say, (link to

    In this post, I outline I rant about how curriculum can be a serious inhibitor of creating a learning rich classroom (link to and I envision a future of learning that incorporates like you said, problem-based learning.

    At this point, I feel like the model that Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith is the best moving forward. It has student-led learning, problem-based learning, creation, design thinking, authentic audience…check out the trailer or read the book, The Most Likely to succeed! (link to

    Thanks for your post and encouragement that we’re on the right path…we are all thinking this…so I think it’s about time we start changing it!!!!

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