PERSPECTIVES ON FOUR CURRICULUM TRADITIONS William Schubert
Introduction • Old thought: Curriculum = Textbook • Pioneers in education thought Curriculum > Textbook • Cur-ric-u-lum: “What is worth knowing” …worth experiencing, doing, being. Origin: Chariot Race; “race course” meaning “journey;” of learning, growing, becoming.
Four Positions on Curriculum Thought • Intellectual Traditionalist • Social Behaviorist • Experientalist • Critical Reconstructionist
Intellectual Traditionalist • Curriculum should be founded in the “Great Works” of all disciplines. These stimulate humans to think deeply. • 6 Great Ideas each found in Great Works. -Truth -Beauty -Goodness -Liberty -Equality -Justice
Interview of the Intellectual Traditionalist • Your method seems a bit white elitist… -Yes… I know Western culture best. • Not everyone likes, understands, or is inspired by the great works… -We need to find teachers who like the great works, and they will be responsible for making the subject “come alive” for the students to grasp a deeper meaning and spark great conversation. • How do we reach students and convince parents that studying the great works will lead to success (jobs)? -Education should not be primarily vocational. -Students will be able to think and appreciate more deeply and carefully. • How do we judge and use the modern works? -Let experts decide.
Social Behaviorist • “puts more stock in results than appearances” • “Textbooks of today carry little more than re-digested relics of past textbooks, and the same unquestioned curriculum passed from generation to generation.” • According to Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Similarly, the social behaviorist states, “the unexamined curriculum is not worth offering.” • We must make curriculum relevant for TODAY’S STUDENTS • Behaviorist- Identify behaviors that help students become successful. Social- Such behaviors taken from the systematic investigation of success today.
Interview of the Social Behaviorist • How do we determine what will create success? - Scientifically with survey methods: What do successful people do? What do they need to know to do it? -Students then learn what successful people know. • Doesn’t this just perpetuate the status quo? - No. Only a small percent of people are very successful… now students will be pushed to be even more successful. • What image of success will be perpetuated? -Educators decide what success means. -Must be regional, then state, and then national, because the location determines different meanings of success. • What is the next step after success is defined? - Curriculum Engineering… measuring the GAP ANALYSIS between what students know, and what successful people know. This determines what is to be taught. -Research and technology allow these decisions to be made adequately.
Experientialist • Sees knowledge and value as part of a seamless fabric. • “We learn best when learning springs from our genuine interests and concerns. • John Dewey says Curriculum should be derived from each learners experience, moving from psychological (concerns and interests of learners) to logical (disciplines and the knowledge accumulated by the human race).
Interview of the Experientialist • Huh? -Every child has daily concerns that affect their interpretation of content and their learning experience.Teacher engages the students in sharing these daily concerns and interests, bringing students together. From here the projects flow from deeper human interests. • If student pursues interests, how do necessary skills get covered? -How to learn is more important than what to learn. -By pursuing in depth, the student sees connections to other bodies of knowledge. Every topic of inquiry is potentially interdisciplinary. -Integrated curriculum: Integrating the self in social context… learning to learn and pursuing one’s curiosity. • What research backs that up? -8 year study measured academic performance, intellectual curiosity, drive, critical thinking, resourcefulness, time management. -Experientially taught students equaled or exceeded traditionally taught students in every area but foreign language. • Who are today’s experientialists? -Advocates of open education, cooperative learning, and collaborative action research.
Critical Reconstructionist • Upset with injustice • The experientialist has good principle, but is too hopeful: naïve. • Schools are “sorting machines” for society. • Students accorded different opportunities depending variables in lives or context.(Class, gender, race, ethnicity, location, health, religion, etc.) • Hegemony: Process whereby a society or culture reproduces patterns of inequity: Schools pass along hierarchy of society at large.
Interview of the Critical Reconstructionist • Explain Hegemony more concretely. -A study researched four schools in different social class communities and found in the “hidden curriculum”: -Lower working class taught: success comes from learning and following rules. -Middle class taught: Give the “right answers” (find out what authority figures want and provide it) -Professional class taught: You will be rewarded for being creative, but don’t “rock the boat.” -Ruling class taught: “rock the boat,” success comes from manipulating the system. • Scary. What can be done? Expose the hidden curriculum to allow people to resist. • Enable everyone to manipulate the system? -No, start smaller, students could be “crushed” by the system. Revolution happens slower. • Then what do we do now? -I agree with the experientialist. Psychological interests of learners. -Experience of injustice should lie at the center of the curriculum. -Students should learn to become activists!
Conclusion • Intellectual Traditionalist: Power of the classics. • Social Behaviorists: Call for look at what knowledge, skills, values lead to success for each generation. • Experientialist and Critical Reconstructionist: Decry authoritarianism of previous two, and allow for greater classroom participation. • Each of these views transcends textbooks to meet needs more fully. • Dewey says: Choosing a side is not the point: Remember and develop relevant aspects of all of these positions as possibilities for each education situation encountered. • The great curriculum task is to draw upon all traditions for insights and understandings that best fit the situations at hand. • Students are far too often left out of the process that affects them.