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Spiral Curriculum part 2: The Broken Spiral

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In our previous article, we had discussed the benefits of the Spiral Curriculum. In this article, we will explore what happens when the Spiral is broken.

In practical implementation of this curriculum it is seen that instead of learning progression, students often meet with learning regression.

More often than not, the reasons can be due to the following:

1. Time constraint: To effectively run the curriculum, students learn the subject in their own phase (Cabansag, 2014). This will allow them to gain mastery over the topic before proceeding to the next complex topic. However, in everyday in teaching and learning there is not enough time to ensure mastery over a topic as it will affect the learning outcomes of the current year that effects to the subsequent years.

2. Monotonous Curriculum: If the learning time devoted is inappropriate, learning time may decrease due to the level of difficulty and boredom (Snider,2004). To avoid the monotony in the curriculum deliverable by introducing fun activity which eats up the instructional time.

3. Teacher-Student Ratio in a classroom: Although in primary classes a well-balanced teacher-student ratio is seen to be maintained in most of the schools; however, this ratio is affected in the secondary classes. Sometimes students are found to be in absolute loss in higher classes on a topic (s) because of the gap in learning in the middle or junior levels. The complexity of the topic overwhelms the student who are lost in a class of 28 students to reach out to the teacher. This infuses behavioural issues which breaks further affects the teaching-learning scenario.

4. Mass promotion: Promoting student without learning has several long-term effects to the student and impact to the country. Promoting students without learning may results in higher drop our rates in secondary years (King et al., 1999) while other studies argue differently (Jimerson, 2001; Lorence, 2014). Performance Indicators of the school includes dropout rates and graduation rate or promotion rate (Read,2017), therefore lower retention means better performance.

5. Out of field Teaching: Many schools employ teachers who joins the profession after a long gap in the career, or from different other profession without teaching degree or homemakers who joins back post sabbatical without any teaching background. This hampers the teaching learning process as the teachers are not competent enough to teach the sequences of the topic in the curriculum (Orleans,2007).

Broken Curriculum may be more evident in an inclusive classroom set up, where learners with different learning needs are present and in such a scenario it is very important that the following takes place:

1. Teaching should always lead to boosting cognitive development

2. Student will not understand the concept if teachers plan to teach it using only the teacher’s level of understanding

3. Instruction need to be anchored on learner’s cognitive abilities (differentiated instruction).

4. Sequencing of topics is crucial as it provides linkages of lessons previously covered as the student spirals upwards in their course of study (Dowding, 1993)

5. Relearning the old topics does not mean re-teaching, but it rather uses it in the understanding of the new topic

6. Promoting student without the remedial classes or required content knowledge is a serious issue which may need further understanding of the authorities before implementation of Spiral curriculum

7. Making remedial classes more attractive for teachers and students alike may help in attaining the needed mastery of topics that may be critical to the next year’s syllabus knowledge. This will also motivate the teachers without an added stress of extra work.

To summarise, it can be inferred that Spiral Curriculum is good, but its application should be carefully monitored to avoid broken spiral scenario without implementation of other prerequisites such as resources, appropriate teaching competencies and favourable policies.

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