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A Guide to Curriculum Mapping: Planning,…

A Guide to Curriculum Mapping: Planning, Implementing, and Sustaining the…

by Janet A. Hale

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Hale's book is a pretty thorough step-by-step guide to planning and implementing curriculum mapping. As such, it's an effective, if rather technocratic, book. At times, the book gets bogged down in worksheets and outlined procedures, but Hale has geared the book primarily to a public school audience. Given that, it's inevitable that there are long passages dedicated to standards alignment and the like.

Still, there are lots of important ideas that schools ought to consider before taking the plunge into mapping. Planning out exactly what you want to do with your mapping is vital and is surprisingly overlooked by many schools. I think schools believe they have developed an implementation plan, but that does not seem to be convincingly conveyed to the faculty.

Herein lies the real difficulty for mapping -- getting faculty enthusiastic about the process. Mapping has its place but neither this book nor most schools seem to spend much time showing how it is actually useful. The point is assumed and asserted but rarely proved. Most people understand the need to document the curriculum but nobody does a good job convincing skeptical faculty that it is.

Part of this is that the mapping becomes an end of itself instead of part of a larger process. I've been to multiple conferences where people talk about mapping and the details of cataloging the information. But what to do with it? People seem to trip up on creating uniform vocabulary or accurate projections of curriculum and lose sight of what is to me the most important potential benefit of mapping -- initiating real curriculum reform.

I'd argue that mapping needs to be part of a larger toolbox of curriculum reform and revision and not the end-in-itself that is seems to have become. So while A Guide to Curriculum Mapping does a good job as a technical manual, I think it falls very short as a vision for curriculum mapping. ( )
  dmcolon | Jun 13, 2008 |
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