I spent this past week helping to write the new grade 12 physics curriculum for Saskatchewan. Before my meetings this last week, I figured we were simply going to be given a few major topics and told to come up with some indicators to fit. I was wrong.
Monday morning, I showed up with very little idea what to expect. We had a discussion about the direction of science and why we were re-writing our outdated and overloaded physics curriculum. Then we started writing. It was OVERWHELMING to say the least. How do you take physics and narrow it down to four or five major topics students need to know.
All four of us in our writing group were very passionate about modern physics. Let’s face it, this is what students find interesting. And what better way to replace a Newtonian driven and concrete curriculum than with a quantum-based and relative physics curriculum (if you haven’t, read G. Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Master’s, from the perspective of an educator). As we filtered our topics and wrote more outcomes (outside of the modern physics chunk) we found that modern physics was permeating through everything. The face of our curriculum was changing – just like the face of physics has changed.
Throughout the three days we were all asked, “Why did you want to be a part of this?” So I asked myself why? When I was in university I had a central prof to my education studies and he told us, “If you ever have a chance to be a part of developing and implementing new curriculum, do not pass it up!” I took his words to heart – why would I pass up a chance to be a part of changing the direction of physics in our province? Why wouldn’t I want to help decide what I am going to be responsible to teach? And, as someone with a particular interest in curriculum, I wanted to learn more about the process of developing curriculum – how was it done? I was NOT disappointed.
These past three days have been some of the best professional development in which I have ever taken part. I made connections with four STRONG and ACTIVE physics teachers within the province, some of which I already have collaborative projects planned. I spent three days discussing the importance of teaching physics: sequencing, content, activities, and exploring. I know my subject better. I know our new curriculum; I know the content AND the rationale. I can’t say enough for this process. Thank you to the Ministry of Education for allowing me to be part of this. I have never been so excited and proud to teach physics in this province.
Disclaimer: This curriculum will be written and developed over the next 12 – 18 months. All content is subject to change.