Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
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Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

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Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD...

Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Dr. Kritsonis is founder of NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS (since 1983). These publications represent a group of highly respected scholarly academic periodicals. Over 4,000 writers have been published in these refereed, peer-reviewed periodicals. In 1983, he founded the National FORUM of Educational Administration and Supervision – now acclaimed by many as the United States’ leading recognized scholarly academic refereed journal in educational administration, leadership, and supervision.
In 1987, Dr. Kritsonis founded the National FORUM of Applied Educational Research Journal whose aim is to conjoin the efforts of applied educational researchers world-wide with those of practitioners in education. He founded the National FORUM of Teacher Education Journal, National FORUM of Special Education Journal, National FORUM of Multicultural Issues Journal, International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity, International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, and the DOCTORAL FORUM – National Journal for Publishing and Mentoring Doctoral Student Research. The DOCTORAL FORUM is the only refereed journal in America committed to publishing doctoral students while they are enrolled in course work in their doctoral programs. In 1997, he established the Online Journal Division of National FORUM Journals that publishes academic scholarly refereed articles daily on the website: www.nationalforum.com. Over 500 professors have published online. In January 2007, Dr. Kritsonis established Focus: On Colleges, Universities, and Schools.

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Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Chapter 21 The Scope of the Curriculum from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Document Transcript

  • Copyright © 2011 by William Allan Kritsonis/All Rights Reserved 21 THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM INSIGHTS1. What does a person need to know?2. What is the appropriate scope of the course of study that ought to be provided?3. The recommended curriculum aimed at technical efficiency dif- fers from one that considers the delights of contemplation to be the highest good.4. Highest good to be served by education is the fullest possible realization of the distinctively human capacities and that these capacities consist in the life of meaning.5. The course of study should be such as to maximize meanings.6. Fulfillment consists in mastery.7. The meaningful life is that in which the person finds one thing to do and learns to do it very well. 207
  • 208 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION8. People who scatter themselves in many directions dissipate their powers and never transcend superficiality.9. Most of the outstanding achievements of humankind have been made by people who have developed a single line of competence to a point sufficient to yield something really new.10. The scattered person can only follow the paths laid out by the single-minded pioneers.11. The scope of the curriculum for any given person should be nar- row rather than broad.12. Depth of knowledge and skill should be the goal.13. Fulfillment consists in belonging to a community.14. The significance of each person’s life results from participation in the meaning of the social whole.15. Fulfillment consists in many-sidedness.16. Fulfillment of meaning consists in the integrity of the person.17. Fulfillment consists in gaining a certain quality of understand- ing.18. There are certain essentials that need to be learned, and be- yond them everything else is unimportant.19. A person can attain high mastery of one field and good under- standing of many other fields.20. Human nature itself supplies the clue to the minimal scope of the curriculum.21. No one realm of meaning can be perfected without the aid of the others.22. The curriculum should at least provide for learnings in all six of the realms of meaning: symbolics, empirics, esthetics, syn- noetics, ethics, and synoptics.23. If any of the six is missing, the person lacks a basic ingredient in experience.24. The basic realms are such that all of them are required if a person is to achieve the highest excellence in anything at all.25. The curriculum of general education contains those provisions for learning that are necessary for the development of the person in his essential humanity.26. An item of knowledge that is an essential ingredient in the hu- manizing of one person may be used by another for special pur- poses.27. Specialized study is likewise requisite for the common good in a complex civilization.28. The basis for advanced society is specialization of function, in which each person concentrates his energies upon doing a few things well rather than many things poorly.29. The term “fundamental” refers to fields that are concerned with the deliberate and direct pursuit of one of the six possible kinds of realms of meaning.30. Derivative or applied fields result from the utilization of mean- ings from the fundamental disciplines in the solution of problems arising out of biological and social exigencies.31. The fundamental studies focus on the pure types of meaning, having regard for their distinctive forms.32. Derivative or applied studies grow out of practical considera- tions, and workers in them seek solutions to problems without regard to purity of logical type.
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 20933. Education as a field of learning draws upon all the fundamen- tal fields.34. In all the applied fields language plays an important part.35. Whether specialists concentrate on fundamental or applied studies depends on what their specialties are.36. The decision as to whether fundamental or derived studies shall be used in general education is not as easy as it is for special- ized education.37. Derived studies may have a more immediate appeal to the inter- ests of the student, and on that account may prove more in- structive in the basic meanings.38. Using the fundamental disciplines for general education also has the major advantage of keeping the various distinct ways of understanding clear and of helping the student to avoid the confusions of meaning that are all too prevalent in ordinary life and practical affairs.39. The scope of the school curriculum depends in part upon whether or not other agencies besides the school take responsibility for certain aspects of education.40. It is desirable to include some provision for all six realms of meaning in the school curriculum, in order to provide the requi- site consistency and unity in the experience of learning.41. Because people differ, no one curriculum suffices for everybody.42. For most effective learning curricula need to be designed as far as practicable to take account of each person’s particular aptitudes and enthusiasms.43. Normally a person’s special interests and abilities are an im- portant clue in what he should specialize.44. In general education the lesson of individual differences is main- ly that particular attention needs to be given to devising mate- rials and methods designed to awaken the interest of those who do not respond easily and naturally to certain of the funda- mental disciplines.45. The educator takes responsibility for seeing to it that each per- son develops all the types of understanding required to become fully human.46. A major goal of general education in school should be to es- tablish habits of study that will lead one to continue general learning regularly after completing his formal education.47. The measure of the success of the school curriculum is the de- gree to which graduates voluntarily and zestfully go on learning in later life.48. The number of years devoted to general education in schools is determined in large part by economic factors.49. When resources are ample, a society can afford to allow con- siderable time for general education.50. No one curriculum is the best for all people and for every cul- ture and situation.51. The course actually chosen in a particular school will depend upon the circumstances of the case, including the character, traditions, and history of the community and the predispositions of its students.52. A general philosophy for the curriculum can only indicate the large design of the curriculum and certain principles for making View slide
  • 210 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION decisions about the sequence of studies and the selection and or- ganization of materials for instruction. ____________________ View slide
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 211In Part One it was argued that human beings are distinguished bytheir capacity for meanings and that there are six basic realms ofmeaning that are characteristically human. In Part Two the funda-mental patterns of meaning in these six realms were set forth. InPart Three an attempt will be made to draw some conclusions re-garding curriculum on the basis of these considerations about humannature and the patterns of meaning. WHAT DOES A PERSON NEED TO KNOW? WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE SCOPE OF STUDY THAT OUGHT TO BE PROVIDED? We begin by asking: What does a person need to know? What isthe appropriate scope of the course of study that ought to be provid-ed? The answers to such questions depend upon many factors, includingthe unique personality of the student, the social and cultural contextin which he lives, and the available resources for teaching and learn-ing. More important than all of these, however, is the end to whicheducation is directed. For example, the recommended curriculum aimedat technical efficiency differs from one that considers the delights ofcontemplation to be the highest good. THE COURSE OF STUDY SHOULD MAXIMIZE MEANINGS The premise of the present argument is that the highest good tobe served by education is the fullest possible realization of the dis-tinctively human capacities and that these capacities consist in thelife of meaning. The course of study should be such as to maximizemeanings. WHAT SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE MEANINGS?Mastery Then the question becomes: What should be taught in order tomaximize meanings? What provides for the fulfillment of the life ofmeaning? There are five principal answers to such questions, and eachhas certain merits. The first answer is that fulfillment consists inmastery. The meaningful life is that in which the person finds onething to do and learns to do it very well. The realization of existencelies in depth of understanding. The wealth of possible meanings is sogreat that a person has to choose the one channel into which he canpour his energies with maximum effect. People who scatter themselvesin many directions dissipate their powers and never transcend superfi-ciality. Most of the outstanding achievements of humankind have beenmade by people who have developed a single line of competence to apoint sufficient to yield something really new. The scattered personcan only follow the paths laid out by the single-minded pioneers. According to this view, the scope of the curriculum for any giv-en person should be narrow rather than broad. Each person should behighly trained in a specialty instead of comprehensively as a gener-
  • 212 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONalist. Depth of knowledge and skill should be the goal, rather thansuperficial acquaintance with a variety of fields.Belonging to a Community A second position is that fulfillment consists in belonging toa community in which the various meanings are realized. The signifi-cance of each person’s life results from participation in the meaningof the social whole. The good life is not conceived as depth of mas-tery, as in the first view, but in loyal membership in the social body. From this standpoint the course of study to be followed dependsupon a person’s place within the social complex. Each individual playshis part and is required to develop competencies that best equip him tocontribute to the whole. Unless his function is that of comprehensivesocial planning, he does not need to cultivate meanings in other thanthe special sphere in which he serves the community. Nor does he needto plumb more deeply in any given field than his social position re-quires. This view results in specialized curricula for most students,usually with less depth than the first position entails and with par-ticular provision for understanding the nature of the social enter-prise as a whole.Many-Sidedness A third answer to the question about fulfillment is that it con-sists in many-sidedness. The desirable goal is well-roundedness andvariety of interests, and the curriculum should be correspondinglybroad and diverse. Instead of specializing in one field the studentshould gain some understanding of many different fields. Rather thandeveloping one skill to a high degree, he should be encouraged to gainsome competence in a number of different types of activity.Integrity A fourth position is that the fulfillment of meaning consists inthe integrity of the person. The main objective is to secure a coordi-nation of whatever meanings are acquired into a coherent whole. Theevil to be avoided is inner division and partiality. Each person shouldpossess a sufficient range of meanings in his own self without depend-ing for the significance of his life upon his position in the social whole.He should become relatively independent, with rich inner resources formeeting a variety of situations and exigencies. From this standpointthe most important consideration in the curriculum is the studies forman interrelated whole and not a collection of unrelated pieces. Thematerials of learning also need to be capable of assimilation by theparticular person so they may contribute to his integral selfhood.Quality A fifth and final view is that fulfillment consists in gaining acertain quality of understanding. The ideal of life has to do withquality rather than with depth, participation, extensiveness, or co-herence. According to this position, there are certain essentials thatneed to be learned, and beyond them everything else is unimportant. In
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 213this case the breadth of the curriculum depends upon what it is deemedessential to know, whether a few things or many.
  • 214 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAchieving Fulfillment of Meaning in MoreThan One Way is Possible The foregoing positions are not mutually exclusive. It is notnecessary to choose one and reject the others. Since in modern civi-lization study extends over many years, sometimes for the greaterpart of a lifetime, it is possible to achieve fulfillment of meaning inmore than one way. It is possible to achieve fulfillment in all theways of knowing suggested above. A person can attain high masteryof one field and good understanding of many other fields. He canachieve both inner integrity and satisfaction in belonging to a largerwhole. He can pursue essential understandings without minimizing thesignificance of less than essential ones. THE FOUNDATION FOR ALL CIVILIZED EXISTENCE IS HUMAN NATURE The analysis in Part One suggests that human nature itselfsupplies the clue to the minimal scope of the curriculum. Human beingsare characterized by a few basic types of functioning. They use sym-bols, they abstract and generalize, they create and perceive inter-esting objects, they relate to each other personally, they makejudgments of good and evil, they reenact the past, they seek the ulti-mate, and they comprehensively analyze, evaluate, and synthesize.These are the universal, pervasive, and perennial forms of distinc-tively human behavior. They are the foundation for all civilized exis-tence. All of them are deeply woven into the texture of life wheneverit transcends the level of biological and social survival. THE SIX REALMS OF MEANING FROM A COMPLEX UNITY Furthermore, the analysis of Part Two shows that these fun-damental types of human understanding are interdependent. No onerealm of meaning can be perfected without the aid of the others. Allsix realms form a complex unity of interrelated yet relatively au-tonomous domains.
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 215 THE CURRICULUM SHOULD PROVIDE FOR LEARNING IN ALL SIX REALMS OF MEANING The curriculum should at least provide for learnings in all sixof the realms of meaning: symbolics, empirics, esthetics, synnoetics,ethics, and synoptics. Without these a person cannot realize his essen-tial humanness. If any one of the six is missing, the person lacks a ba-sic ingredient in experience. They are to the fulfillment of humanmeanings something like what basic nutrients are to the health of anorganism. Each makes possible a particular mode of functioning with-out which the person cannot live according to his own true nature. SIX REALMS OF MEANING ARE REQUIRED IF A PERSON IS TO ACHIEVE THE HIGHEST EXCELLENCE This six-fold curriculum answers to the fifth or qualitative cri-terion of fulfillment previously discussed. Since the six realms form awhole integrated by the synoptic meanings, it also satisfies the fourthcriterion, of wholeness. It indicates the need for a varied curriculumwith at least the six fundamental components. What of the other twocriteria—of mastery and belonging? Is the six-realm curriculum consis-tent with them? It might seem at first that concentration on master-ing one field would exclude concern for anything else. Such is not thecase, because the basic realms are such that all of them arerequired if a person is to achieve the highest excellence inanything at all. They are essential in the sense that a person can-not do his best in any human undertaking without some understandingof all the realms. A PERSON CAN ATTAIN MAXIMUM MASTERY OF ANY OF THE DIVISIONS OF HUMAN ACTIVITY For example, a person cannot attain maximum mastery in anyscientific field without having some competence in language, the arts,personal relations, morals, and synoptics, since scientific activity inits own structure includes symbolic, esthetic, personal, ethical, andintegrative factors. Again, a person cannot attain the highest mas-tery in the arts unless he knows how to communicate, understandsfacts and generalizations, relates insightfully with others and withhimself, has a sensitive conscience, and has achieved a certain per-spective on the whole. Similar conclusions hold for the mastery ofany of the other divisions of human activity. THE CURRICULUM IS BASED ON FULFILLMENT THROUGH COMMUNAL PARTICIPATION It follows that learning in the six realms is necessary evenwhen the goal of specialized mastery guides the construction of thecurriculum. Concentration should not proceed to the point of neglect-ing any of the essential human capacities, since the fullest masteryitself requires all these abilities. The same is true of the curriculumbased on fulfillment through communal participation. A person can-not understand his place in the whole and behave accordingly unlesshe is aware of the basic functions of civilized man. He must possess thepowers of speech, description, creation, relation, choice, and integra-
  • 216 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONtion if he is to play a significant part in the human commonwealth. Inother words, he has to become essentially human himself if he is toparticipate in a meaningful civilized order. THE CURRICULUM OF GENERAL EDUCATION The foregoing concept of the six essential domains in which ev-ery person needs to develop understanding and skill is the basis forthe idea of general education. The curriculum of general educationcontains those provisions for learning that are necessary for the de-velopment of the person in his essential humanity. General educationis contrasted with specialized education, which includes provisions forthe development of particular competencies for other purposes thanthe becoming of a person as a person. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GENERAL AND SPECIALIZED EDUCATION The distinction between general and specialized education is ad-mittedly vague and imprecise. It is difficult in any given case to makea clear-cut and unequivocal judgment between the two. But it is notnecessary to do so. The significant distinction is between studies intend-ed to develop kinds of understanding (not particular understandings)that everybody needs simply because he is human and studies intendedto develop kinds of understanding that only some people need in orderto fulfill certain particular individual or social ends. Evidently thejudgment as to whether a study is general or special does not applyto content as such, but to the relation between content and purposefor the given person and situation. An item of knowledge that is anessential ingredient in the humanizing of one person may be used by an-other for special purposes. THE IMPORTANCE OF SPECIALIZED EDUCATION LIES IN FULFILLING MEANING IN MASTERY AND BELONGING The importance of specialized education lies in fulfilling mean-ing in the first two areas previously discussed, namely, mastery andbelonging. To become an expert in any field of learning a person needsto go far beyond what one needs to know to achieve human stature. Infact, some other way of gaining the kind of understanding required byeveryone can always be found as an alternative to any particularspecialty, while there is no substitute for particular specialized studyif one wishes to gain mastery in that field. For example, to become anexpert in physics one must study a great deal of physics to an ad-vanced level, while for purposes of general education one does notneed to study physics at all, since there are many other scientific dis-ciplines that can just as well yield the basic understanding of empiri-cal meanings. Specialized study is likewise requisite for the common good in acomplex civilization. The basis for advanced society is specializationof function, in which each person concentrates his energies upon doinga few things well rather than many things poorly. The gain in socialefficiency through such specialization is spectacular. To make it possi-ble, specialized education is required. Such an education gives knowl-
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 217edge and skill to people in any given field of specialization far beyondthe general understanding that everyone should acquire in the realmof meaning to which that field of learning belongs. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN FUNDAMENTAL AND DERIVATIVE OR APPLIED FIELDS The distinction between general and specialized studies is quitedifferent from another distinction that is important for curricularpurposes, namely, the distinction between the fundamental and thederivative or applied fields of learning. The term “fundamental”refers to fields that are concerned with the deliberate and direct pur-suit of one of the six possible kinds of realms of meaning. All the disci-plines discussed in Part Two are fundamental in this sense, and othersnot included for want of space could be added. On the other hand,derivative or applied fields result from the utilization of meaningsfrom the fundamental disciplines in the solution of problems arisingout of biological and social exigencies. The fundamental studies focuson the pure types of meaning, having regard for their distinctiveforms. Derivative or applied studies grow out of practical considera-tions, and workers in them seek solutions to problems without regardto purity of logical type. EXAMPLES OF DERIVATIVE OR APPLIED FIELDS The skilled crafts are derivative fields, drawing in various de-grees upon the arts and the sciences for the requisite understandings.The same is true of engineering, with major emphasis on the naturalsciences. Law is concerned with problems of social control, and drawschiefly upon the social sciences, ethics, and the synoptic disciplines(particularly history and philosophy). Business is compounded of em-pirical knowledge and ability in personal relations, with an occasion-al admixture of ethics. Education as a field of learning draws uponall the fundamental fields. Social work combines social science withpersonal knowledge and, to some extent, ethics. In all the appliedfields language also plays an important part.
  • 218 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION GENERAL EDUCATION OR SPECIALIZED EDUCATION DEPENDS ON THE PERSON AND THE SITUATION The distinction between fundamental and applied studies is inde-pendent of the distinction between general and specialized studies.Work in a fundamental discipline, such as pure mathematics, may beused either for general education or for specialized education, depend-ing on the person and the situation. Again, applied studies may be usedeither for general or specialized education. The practical field of ce-ramics may be a means either for general education in the estheticrealm or for the training of an expert in that craft. The study oflaw may also be used either for the ethical component of general ed-ucation (among other goals) or for the preparation of professionallawyers. Whether specialists concentrate on fundamental or appliedstudies depends on what their specialties are. A linguist, an artist, ora philosopher specializes in advanced fundamental studies. An engi-neer, a businessman, or a doctor specializes in applied studies, togeth-er with such fundamental studies as are needed to support his specialapplied field (e.g., mathematics and physics for the engineer, the so-cial sciences for the businessman, and biological science for the doc-tor). THE DECISION TO USE FUNDAMENTAL OR DERIVED STUDIES IS DIFFICULT TO MAKE The decision as to whether fundamental or derived studies shallbe used in general education is not as easy as it is for specialized edu-cation. Derived studies may have a more immediate appeal to the in-terests of the student, and on that account may prove more instruc-tive in the basic meanings than would fundamental studies, in whichthese meanings are developed directly. For example, a student mightlearn more mathematics and physics by studying them in the context ofautomobile mechanics and electronics than as pure disciplines. On theother hand, it should be possible to teach fundamental studies in sucha way as to capture the interest of the student, particularly if am-ple use is made of examples of application, thus in effect incorporat-ing materials from the applied fields into the teaching of the funda-mental disciplines. Using the fundamental disciplines for general edu-cation also has the major advantage of keeping the various distinctways of understanding clear, and of helping the student to avoid theconfusions of meaning that are all too prevalent in ordinary life andpractical affairs. THIS BOOK IS CONCERNED WITH THE CURRICULUM OF GENERAL EDUCATION AND WITH THE FUNDAMENTAL DISCIPLINES This book is concerned with the curriculum of generaleducation and not with specialized studies. It is also con-cerned with the fundamental disciplines and not with the ap-plied fields. The foregoing discussion of specialized and derived studiesis included to make it clear the scope of the curriculum as a whole ex-tends beyond the provisions made for general education using the fun-
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 219damental disciplines and to suggest briefly some of the relations be-tween general and specialized education and between fundamental andapplied studies. THE CURRICULUM OOF GENERAL EDUCATION USING FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES Having said this much about the total curriculum, in all thatfollows we shall be concerned only with that part of the curriculumthat is devoted to general education using fundamental studies. It willbe assumed that insofar as derivative materials are employed, theywill be introduced as auxiliary to the teaching of the fundamentaldisciplines.
  • 220 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION More knowledge is to be learned than any one person is capable of learning. People try to teach children at an early age some of the basics of everything. In order to see the broader picture one must be somewhat distanced from each part. At what point do teachers decide that the student must now concentrate on any given discipline?
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 221Picture
  • 222 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION THE SCOPE OF THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM The scope of the school curriculum depends in part uponwhether or not other agencies besides the school take responsibilityfor certain aspects of education. No general rules can be laid downto decide this question, since the agencies of education and their as-signed responsibilities differ from one social system to another. Forexample, it is conceivable that esthetic learning might take placemainly through museums, theaters, and the mass media, making in-struction in the arts unnecessary in the schools. Religious and moralinstruction might be assigned to the home and the church, and personalrelations could be regarded as everybody’s province and thereforenot in need of explicit care in schools. Nevertheless, it is desirable toinclude some provision for all six realms of meaning in the school cur-riculum, in order to provide the requisite consistency and unity in theexperience of learning. Provisions made in other institutions can thenbe supplemented and corrected by the corresponding studies within theschool curriculum. EFFECTIVE CURRICULA MUST BE DESIGNED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT EACH PERSON’S APTITUDES AND ENTHUSIASMS Because people differ, no one curriculum suffices for everybody.Some people are abler than others, and their abilities are of differentkinds. One person has unusual facility with language, another inartistic creation, and a third in human relations. Interests and dispo-sitions also differ and these differences affect progress in learning.The conclusion to be drawn from individual differences is that for mosteffective learning, curricula need to be designed as far as practica-ble to take account of each person’s particular aptitudes and enthu-siasms. CONSEQUENCES FOR GENERAL EDUCATION NOT THE SAME AS FOR SPECIALIZED EDUCATION The consequences for general education are not necessarily thesame as for specialized education. Normally a person’s special inter-ests and abilities are an important clue to what he should specializein, indicating the fields which it would be most profitable for him totake the most advanced work. By contrast, in the case of general ed-ucation, which is concerned with what everyone should understand,less study rather than more is indicated for those fields in which aperson has unusual ability, since he can be expected to gain compe-tence in them more easily and quickly than in studies where his abili-ties are of a lower order. In general education, the lesson of individu-al differences is mainly that particular attention needs to be given todevising materials and methods designed to awaken the interest ofthose who do not respond easily and naturally to certain of the fun-damental disciplines. In so doing, the educator takes responsibility forseeing to it that each person develops all the types of understandingrequired to become fully human. A PERSON CAN BE AS ADVANCED IN STUDIES AS IN SPECIALIZED ONES Since the task of realizing one’s humanity is never really com-pleted, general education is not simply a matter of developing certain
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 223minimum competencies in the fundamental disciplines. General educationneed not be elementary and introductory. One can be as advanced ingeneral studies as in specialized ones. As stated earlier, the differ-ence between the two is one of purpose and function rather than ofthe subject itself. Every person should continue throughout life in thecultivation of his humanness. In fact, a major goal of general educa-tion in school should be to establish habits of study that will lead oneto continue general learning regularly after completing his formaleducation. The measure of the success of the school curriculum is thedegree to which graduates voluntarily and zestfully go on learningin later life, and the measure of its failure is the lack of interest ofits graduates in further study of the kind done in school.
  • 224 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION YEARS DEVOTED TO GENERAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS IS DETERMINED BY ECONOMIC FACTORS The number of years devoted to general education in schools isdetermined in large part by economic factors and by the dedication ofthe public to humane values as contrasted with efficiency in organi-zation and production. If economic conditions are poor, it is necessaryto turn every effort toward increased production and better distribu-tion of goods, with corresponding emphasis on specialized studies andthe applied fields. Even so, since certain basic human competencies arerequired for success in practical endeavors, a minimum of general edu-cation is important even in a relatively poor society. WHEN ECONOMIC FACTORS ARE ABUNDANT, SOCIETY CAN AFFORD TO ALLOW CONSIDERABLE TIME FOR GENERAL EDUCATION When resources are ample, a society can afford to allow con-siderable time for general education. It seems likely that everythingnecessary to prepare a person in the general competencies and forlifelong continued general education can well be done in a period offrom ten to sixteen years of school. It should be possible to completeformal general education sometime during the high school or collegeperiod. The usual pattern in the United States is for the least ablestudents to complete general studies after eight or ten years and forthe most able students to continue general studies at least throughthe second year of college, and often for the entire four collegeyears. ALL SIX FUNDAMENTAL REALMS OF MEANING PROVIDE A PROGRAM FOR THE CURRICULUM OF GENERAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS A program for the curriculum of general education in schoolsmay then be conceived as providing for instruction in all six of thefundamental realms of meaning—in language, science, art, personalknowledge, ethics, and synoptics—over a period, say, of 14 years, withsome opportunity for concurrent specialization where individual abili-ties and interests and social needs indicate its desirability. To achievea well-balanced program it may further be recommended that theprogram be divided approximately equally among the six realms. Inthis way considerable variety within each type of meaning can be of-fered, and the criterion of fulfillment as richness and breadth of un-derstanding can be satisfied, along with the other criteria earlier dis-cussed. IMAGINE THE STUDENT DURING 14 YEARS OF GENERAL EDUCATION For example, during 14 years of general education a studentcould study not only his own everyday language, but also mathemat-ics and one or two foreign languages (Symbolics). He could studyseveral of the sciences—physical, biological, psychological, and so-
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 225cial (Empirics)—and, among the arts at least the four groups of disci-plines treated in Part Two—music, the visual arts, the arts of move-ment (in physical education), and literature (Esthetics). He couldhave regular opportunities for gaining personal insight, through aprogram of social activities and of work with skilled guidance coun-selors (Synnoetics). He could have instruction and practice in makingmoral decisions, through the study of moral problems and the methodsof ethical inquiry consummated by responsible participation in deci-sion-making where the common good is at stake (Ethics). Finally, hecould be given a thorough grounding in history and a basic under-standing of religious commitment and philosophic interpretation (Syn-optics).
  • 226 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION Only at highly advanced stages of learning capabilities does one greatly narrow the scope of what is to be learned and begins concentrating on a particular discipline. It is possible to concentrate so fully on one subject that the student cannot see anything else around him/her, thereby giving the student an unrealistic view of the world in which one lives.
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 227Picture
  • 228 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION A PROGRAM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION THROUGH INSTRUCTION IN THE FUNDAMENTAL SIX REALMS OF MEANING MAKES GOOD SENSE Within the broad recommendation of a six-fold program of gen-eral education through instruction in the fundamental meanings agreat variety of particular curricula can be conceived. No one cur-riculum is the best for all people and for every culture and situation.The course actually chosen in a particular school will depend uponthe circumstances of the case, including the character, traditions,and history of the community and the predispositions of its students. Ageneral philosophy for the curriculum can only indicate the large de-sign of the curriculum and certain principles for making decisionsabout the sequence of studies and the selection and organization ofmaterials for instruction. WAYS OF KNOWING1. What does a person need to know?2. What appropriate scope of study ought to be provided for a given course of study?3. What should be taught in order to maximize meanings?4. Why is it that most of the outstanding achievements of hu- mankind have been made by people who have developed a single line of competence?5. What are five principal answers that pertain to what should be taught in order to maximize meanings for the fulfillment of a life of meaning?6. What are a few basic types of functions that characterize hu- man beings?7. How do all six realms of meaning form a complex unity of in- terrelated yet relatively autonomous domains?8. Why should the curriculum provide for learnings in all six realms of meaning?9. What are the six realms of meaning?10. How does a person attain maximum mastery of any of the divi- sions of human activity?11. Why should the curriculum be based on fulfillment through communal participation?12. What does the curriculum of general education contain?13. What does the curriculum of specialized education contain?14. What is the distinction between general and specialized educa- tion?15. Why is mastery and belonging so important to the fulfilling of meaning in specialized education?16. To become an expert in a specialized field, what must a person do?17. What is the basis for advanced societies?18. What is the distinction between fundamental and the derivative or applied fields of learning?19. What are some practical examples of derivative of applied fields?
  • THE SCOPE OF THE CURRICULUM 22920. Why is the decision to use fundamental or derived studies in gen- eral education difficult to make?21. Why do derived studies have a more immediate appeal to the in- terests of the student?22. How does using the fundamental disciplines for general educa- tion help the student to avoid confusions of meaning that are all too prevalent in ordinary life and practical affairs?23. The scope of the school curriculum depends on what?24. Why does effective curricula need to be designed to take into account each person’s particular aptitudes and enthusiasms?25. Why are the consequences for general education not the same as for specialized education?26. How can a person be as advanced in general studies as in spe- cialized studies?27. What is the major goal of general education in school?28. How should we measure success of the school curriculum?29. How is the number of years devoted to general education in schools determined largely by economic factors?30. How is the dedication of the public to humane values more im- portant in schooling than efficiency in organization and pro- duction?31. Why are years devoted to school determined by economic fac- tors?32. Why can a society afford to allow considerable time for gen- eral education when economic factors are abundant?