Phil Hatlen's Corner (Blog)

Blog posts from our board member, Phil Hatlen, and guest bloggers, addressing issues related to blind and visually-impaired children.

Why Expanded Core Curriculum?

Sometimes I marvel at the number of things I do in my life that I don’t even think about, I just do them!  I get up in the morning, find my way to the bathroom, know instinctively where my toothbrush is, squeeze a specific amount of toothpaste on that implement, and brush my teeth.  I find the shower, turn on the water, and enjoy the soft sting of warm water on my body as I continue to wake up.  I dry off, and comb my hair.  I go to my closet and look for what I want to wear today.  If it’s brown slacks, then it’s also a brown tie and brown socks. 

Let’s stop now, though we’ve hardly begun the day.  I want to ask you how you learned to do all those things:  finding the bathroom and knowing where your toothbrush and toothpaste were located, putting on the right amount of toothpaste, etc.  You’re going to tell me one of two things: 1 - I don’t know, I’ve just always known how to do them; 2 - I observed my parents and siblings, and copied what I visually saw.  Are you telling me that no one taught you these skills?  That all you needed to do was watch others do them? 

Let’s now think about how a blind or visually impaired person would accomplish these tasks, and believe me, they do, every day of their lives.  They have been taught orientation and mobility skills in order to move around their homes comfortably and with confidence.  They have learned organizational skills so that their toothbrush and toothpaste are easy to find and always in the same place.  They have been taught how to brush their teeth.  Bathing skills have been learned.  Someone taught them closet organization and clothes matching.  They label their clothes in a systematic manner so that they know which socks are brown and which are blue.

Notice the words “taught”  and “learned”.  What does this mean?  Well, it means that many of the activities of life that sighted persons do automatically, take for granted, and learned by casually observing family members must be carefully and systematically taught to blind and visually impaired students.  So, you see, these students have many curriculum needs that we do not need to teach to sighted students.  Is it required that these curricular areas be learned by blind and visually impaired students?  If finding the bathroom, brushing one’s teeth, and selecting clothing to wear are required for living in this society, then it is required that blind and visually impaired students learn these skills.

Do blind and visually impaired students share the same academic needs as their sighted peers?  You bet they do!  But, in addition to similar needs, these students must be provided an “Expanded Core Curriculum” that encompasses subject matter they must be taught, because they will not learn the skills through observation and imitation.

Because the Expanded Core Curriculum requires instructional time from teachers who are certified and qualified to teach blind and visually impaired students, most of this learning will take place outside the regular classroom.  It is imperative that teachers with special qualifications and special skills to teach the Expanded Core Curriculum have the time to provide this instruction. 

There are several possibilities available to administrators that will make it possible for teachers of the blind and visually impaired to have the time to both support the academic learning and teach the Expanded Core Curriculum.  The first, and most important, is to keep class sizes and caseloads at a level that gives the teacher the time to teach.  Also, traditional school days may need to be modified in order to provide the instruction necessary.  Meeting both of these sets of needs may require extending the school year for a student, or extending the number of years a student spends in school.  Finally, it might be necessary to enlist the assistance of a school for the blind, and agency for the blind, or some other service delivery system in order to meet all Expanded Core Curriculum

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page last updated: 01-15-2016, 11:14:50 am