Curriculum directors supervise staff and organize special projects. These
professionals work for school districts and universities. They might also
work for organizations.
Those who work in this area may have varied job titles. Bruce Beairsto
is an associate superintendent. He says "curriculum director" is not used
in his area. They are known as assistant or associate superintendents.
Niels Hartvig-Nielsen is the program director for a computer training institute.
He says private schools that offer computer training don't have "curriculum
directors." They are known as program managers.
In the U.S., individual school districts develop their own curriculum.
They may be affected by differences in funding levels. Curriculum directors
play a major role in the process. Institutions that provide professional training
may have to meet clearly defined requirements in terms of curricula.
Trends in the field center around the role of technology. The delivery
of training over the Internet is a popular topic. There is also an increasing
trend toward industry-developed curriculum.
"We now use a wider array of resource materials than before," says Beairsto.
"We try to present multiple perspectives to a topic. Also, the curriculum
is broadening. We now teach lifestyle issues such as drug abuse, child abuse,
sexual decision making. It's not just the three Rs anymore."
Susan Barkman is a professor of curriculum development at Purdue University.
She agrees that the trend is definitely towards computer-based training. There
are more interactive multimedia and web programs that are controlled by the
learner. "There's a movement towards programs where the learner can control
how fast they want to go," she says.
Barkman also notes that there's a move towards helping kids learn life
skills while they learn about the subject matter. "They learn how to make
decisions, how to communicate, problem solving skills -- those kinds of things."
William Oros is the director of curriculum at Bethany Community School
in Connecticut. He says the responsibility for staff training has increasingly
become a part of the job.
"The curriculum director's position involves a number of things and one
of them is dealing with the professional development of teachers," Oros says.
"As we get into an information age where ideas are more important than
products, school systems have kind of lagged behind. But now, they are beginning
to understand that you need someone to handle that aspect of things."
Oros says curriculum development is linked to training because any time
there are changes in the curriculum, teachers need new training to help them
adapt. So it's not hard to see why staff training has become part of the job
Curriculum directors may have to oversee different subject areas. Generally,
there are four main subject areas -- mathematics, the language arts, social
studies and the sciences.
Curriculum directors also ensure that the curriculum of their school is
in synch with educational standards or expectations.
"If you happen to work for a school system, like I do, which feeds its
youngsters into other school systems, then you need somebody to coordinate
what's happening in the curriculum of your school with what's happening in
the curriculum of the other schools you are feeding into," explains Oros.
This job often calls for teamwork. The development and evaluation of curricula
can never be undertaken alone and the curriculum director will need to learn
to work with others.
Though you are likely to be employed by an educational institution if you
want to work as a curriculum director, consultants also work in this field.
Special needs in the area of physical mobility should not stop you from
pursuing this career. You will need good communication skills, though.