What's the difference between goals, mission, strategies, objectives, and values?

Well, values come first.

I mean, they are all essential to a well-designed curriculum, where a curriculum is what Elliot J. Eisner calls it, “a means” to “addressing the aims [a community] values.” But chronologically and logically, of the five, “values” come first.

Those designing curricula have certain worldviews, based on particular sets of values. Holding those values, curriculum designers imagine the ideal outcome of education in their community. What does educated person look like? When the community describes what s/he looks like in words, it comes out a mission statement. A good mission statement delights the imagination of teachers and students. It finds its way onto letterheads, posters, and speeches administrators give to teachers, its image is held before the workers as a constant reminder of our purposes.

Here is my district’s mission: “The mission of Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 is to meet the educational needs of all students, challenging each to his or her full potential and ensuring a foundation for future success in life.” I’m not sure our district’s is all that exciting of the imagination, but it does put forth a positive picture of what a learner coming out of a curriculum based on the community’s values might look like. What citizen could object to students’ “success”?

Goals and objectives are more or less the same thing: performance benchmarks that workers strive for, although goals tend to be more general than objectives, and objectives are usually shorter-term than goals.

A strategy is “a plan of action for achieving a particular goal” (Wikipedia). As such, it comes last in the line of five, reflecting the decision a curriculum designer makes after the previous four, beginning with values, and moving through mission, goals, and objectives, have been understood. A strategy without a goal is logically impossible. Strategies can be changed with relative ease, but if it stays faithful to its particular value-set, a school’s mission cannot be easily altered.

So there you have it, dear reader, just in case you wanted to get those terms straight. Or are they? Write me back to set me straight. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: