Chapter 26 Representative Ideas from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

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Chapter 26 Representative Ideas from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD …

Chapter 26 Representative Ideas from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Currently, Dr. Kritsonis is Professor of Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University – Member of the Texas A&M University System. He teaches in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership. Dr. Kritsonis taught the Inaugural class session in the doctoral program at the start of the fall 2004 academic year. In October 2006, Dr. Kritsonis chaired the first doctoral student to earn a PhD in Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University. He has chaired over 21 doctoral dissertations. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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  • 1. Copyright © 2011 by William Allan Kritsonis/All Rights Reserved 26 REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS INSIGHTS1. The educator is faced with the difficult task of selecting from the rich resources of authentic knowledge that comparatively small portion that will best serve his students.2. Content should be chosen so as to exemplify the representative ideas of the disciplines.3. A “representative idea” is an idea that represents the discipline in which it occurs.4. Representative ideas are concepts that afford an understand- ing of the main features of the discipline.5. Representative ideas exist because disciplines have form, pat- tern, or structure.6. Representative ideas are the organizing principles of the disci- pline. They exhibit its distinctive logic.7. Representative ideas are clearly of great importance in econo- mizing learning effort.8. A thorough understanding of these ideas is equivalent to a knowledge of the entire discipline.9. Representative ideas are therefore at once and the same time principles of growth and principles of simplification.10. An understanding of the very ideas that make a discipline fer- tile, causing knowledge in it to expand rapidly, is also the basis for simplifying the task of learning the discipline.11. The use of representative ideas is one way of solving the prob- lem of quantity in knowledge by means of qualitative principles of selection.12. Representative ideas are elements the understanding of which makes it unnecessary to learn large numbers of particular items of knowledge. 73
  • 2. 74 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION13. Some components within a subject are more representative than others.14. The less representative components are those that draw atten- tion to particular aspects of the subject rather than to the essential patterns of the whole.15. The ideas comprising a discipline may be arranged in a hierar- chical order.16. At the top (first in representative quality) belong those few concepts that characterize the discipline in all its parts.17. At the bottom of the hierarchy appear the host of individual results of inquiry in the discipline, reflecting applications of the general concepts to particular cases and holding within specified conditions.18. A hierarchy of concepts can be constructed for each of the fundamental patterns of meaning.19. The main objective is that some defensible organization of ideas in each discipline be achieved.20. The working out of patterns of representative ideas within the several disciplines is a task that only specialists in the disci- plines themselves can really satisfactorily accomplish.21. Only experts with intimate understanding of their disciplines can make dependable judgments concerning the relative precedence of concepts and the ways in which ideas fit together in the pat- tern of the entire discipline.22. Representative ideas have no place in the actual content of in- struction at the introductory stages.23. The most fundamental ideas are usually not appropriate as ex- plicit content until a fairly advanced stage of understanding has been reached.24. The less comprehensive ideas are, the more easily they can be understood by the beginning student.25. The function of representative ideas is to guide the selection of learnable content so that it will exemplify the characteristic features of the disciplines.26. The place of the representative ideas is not in the first instance on the lips of the teacher, but in his mind, to direct him in the choice of learning experiences that will illustrate the ideas he has in mind.27. In the beginning stages representative ideas are for the guid- ance of the teacher (or the curriculum maker) and not directly for the student.28. The essential point is that at every stage of instruction the representative ideas should govern what is taught.29. A good teacher chooses each item or experience with the delib- erate purpose of giving substance to certain basic concepts that are distinctive and representation of the discipline studied.30. The distinctively human goal in learning is to expand meanings beyond particulars to the larger patterns of understanding.31. Human fulfillment consists in enriching and deepening compre- hension through the ever-expanding integration of experience.32. The aim of teaching is comprehensive understanding.33. The way to achieve comprehensive understanding in teaching is to choose particular materials for instruction that in an un- usual degree exemplify the pattern of the subject as a whole.
  • 3. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 7534. A drastic reduction in the amount of what has to be learned can be effected by the use of representative materials.35. Of greatest importance is the consequence that a student taught by the use of representative ideas understands meaning fully.36. Good teachers have always practiced the art of communicating the essence of their subject by means of unusually illuminating specific examples.37. What is required is a clear recognition of the close relation be- tween efficiency in learning and knowledge of the characteris- tic ideas of the disciplines.38. Great opportunities exit today for the advancement of educa- tion through the joint efforts of experienced classroom teach- ers, curriculum experts, and scholars in the disciplines in pro- viding study materials constructed on sound principles from both pedagogy and the theory of knowledge. ____________________
  • 4. 76 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION SELECTION OF CURRICULUM CONTENT DISCRIMINATES BETWEEN DISCIPLINED AND UNDISCIPLINED MATERIALSThe first principle for the selection of curriculum content discrimi-nates between disciplined and undisciplined materials. Other principlesare required to guide the choice of materials within the disciplines. Theneed for such guidance has been occasioned by the explosion of knowl-edge—an explosion due largely to the activity of workers within thedisciplines themselves. The educator not only has to choose authenticknowledge in place of commonsense opinion; he has the even more diffi-cult task of selecting, from the rich resources of authentic knowl-edge, that comparatively small portion that will best serve his stu-dents. The second, third, and fourth principles of curricular selection,which will be explained in the present and the following two chapters,are designed to guide this choice within the disciplines. CONTENT SHOULD BE CHOSEN TO EXEMPLIFY THE REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS OF THE DISCIPLINES The second principle is that content should be chosen so as toexemplify the representative ideas of the disciplines.The Term Representative Idea As the term suggests, a “representative idea” is an idea thatrepresents the discipline in which it occurs. It is a typical idea in thesense that it reveals the type or kind of the discipline. It is a charac-teristic idea in the sense that it manifests the character of the disci-pline. Representative ideas are concepts that afford an understandingof the main features of the discipline. They are not minor or subordi-nate ideas; they disclose the essence of the discipline. They are ele-ments of the subject that stand for the whole or important aspectsof it. They are aspects within which the image of the complete disci-pline or major portions of it is contained. They are epitomes of thesubject.Representative Ideas Have Form, Pattern, or Structure Representative ideas exist because disciplines have form, pat-tern, or structure. A representative concept represents the patternof the discipline. It characterizes the structure of that field of in-quiry. It is an idea that enables one to distinguish one discipline fromanother. The assertion that disciplines have form means that theirvarious components fit together according to some scheme of coordi-nation. They cohere in some systematic fashion. A discipline is notmerely a collection of various and sundry ideas. It has a characteris-tic logic that provides a standard for judging whether or not anygiven item belongs to the discipline, and if it does, how it fits togetherwith the other components of the field. Representative ideas are theorganizing principles of the discipline. They exhibit its distinctive logic.Representative Ideas help in Economizing Learning Effort Representative ideas are clearly of great importance in econo-mizing learning effort. If there are certain characteristic concepts of
  • 5. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 77a discipline that represent it, then a thorough understanding of theseideas is equivalent to a knowledge of the entire discipline. If knowl-edge within a discipline is organized according to certain patterns,then a full comprehension of those patterns goes far toward makingintelligible the host of particular elements that fit into the design ofthe subject. From the existence of consistent patterns within disciplines itfollows that the metaphor of an explosion of knowledge is not reallyan apt one. For an explosion normally suggests uncontrolled, chaoticexpansion. If knowledge is developing within organized disciplines ac-cording to specified patterns, then an organic metaphor would seemmore appropriate for the increase in knowledge. For example, it mightbe better to say that knowledge is showing exuberant healthygrowth. The reason for its growth is that certain fruitful conceptshave been discovered that enable continuous, productive learning totake place. These fruitful concepts are simply the representativeideas described above.Representative Ideas are Principles ofGrowth and Simplification Representative ideas are therefore at one and the same timeprinciples of growth and principles of simplification. They are princi-ples of growth because the patterns they reveal prove to be produc-tive of further insight, yielding more and more particular exemplifica-tions of what they typify. They are principles of simplification be-cause they provide a kind of map of the discipline that keeps one fromgetting lost in the details. This is a surprising fact, that an under-standing of the very ideas that make a discipline fertile, causingknowledge in it to expand rapidly, is also the basis for simplifying thetask of learning the discipline.Representative Ideas are Very Special Elements The use of representative ideas is one way of solving the prob-lem of quantity in knowledge by means of qualitative principles of se-lection. Representative ideas are not components of a discipline chosenat random. They are very special elements within it, selected fortheir representative qualities. They are of such a quality that theystand for large quantities of material. Representative ideas are ele-ments the understanding of which makes it unnecessary to learn largenumbers of particular items of knowledge.Representativeness is a Matter of Degree What has been said so far may have given the impression thata discipline is made up of two kinds of ideas—representative and unrep-resentative ones—and the recommended principle of selection is toteach the representative rather than the unrepresentative. Such aview is misleading. It is not actually possible to divide the contents ofa discipline into two compartments on the basis of representativeness.There is a sense in which any item of knowledge belonging within a dis-cipline represents that discipline; if it is properly placed in one disci-pline rather than in another, it may be said to represent that disci-pline. Representativeness is actually a matter of degree. Some com-ponents within a subject are more representative than others in thatthey more clearly reveal its pervasive essential features. The lessrepresentative components are those that draw attention to particu-
  • 6. 78 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONlar aspects of the subject rather than to the essential patterns ofthe whole.Disciplines Arranged in Hierarchical OrderThe ideas comprising a discipline may be arranged in a hierarchicalorder. AT the top (first in representative quality) belong those fewconcepts that characterize the discipline in all its parts. Next comecertain corollary ideas suggested by the primary ones. On the nextlower level appear certain important concepts that serve as orga-nizing principles for large subdivisions of the discipline, and belowthese are ranked many more particular ideas that prove useful in thedetailed development of the various special problems and areas of thesubject. At the bottom of the hierarchy appear the host of individualresults of inquiry in the discipline, reflecting applications of the gen-eral concepts to particular cases and holding within specified condi-tions.Further Analysis of Representative Ideas The analyses of the various fundamental patterns of meaningin Chapters 5 to 20 were intended to identify certain representativeideas in the disciplines, showing both the most essential ones and somewith lower orders of representative power. At the highest level arethe ideas that characterize the general logical type of a discipline.For example, at the most general level, a language is characterizedas a conventional symbolic structure, and this distinguishes languageknowledge from empirical, esthetic, personal, moral, and synopticknowledge. Each of these other realms is characterized by represen-tative concepts of the same high order of generality. In the general realm of symbolics different representativeideas typify the several constituent disciplines. For example, the con-cepts of phoneme, morpheme, and syntactical classes apply to ordi-nary language but not to mathematics or to the nondiscursive sym-bolic forms. The fundamental ideas of set, complete abstraction, andlogical consistency are typical of mathematics but not necessarily ofthe other symbolic fields. Similarly, the ideas of presentational formand of figurative meaning pertain characteristically to the nondis-cursive symbolic forms. At a lower order of representativeness in the symbolicsare such important ideas as inflection in ordinary language, variablein mathematics, and gesture in nondiscursive symbolic forms. At thebottom of the representative hierarchy are particular words andword sequences, particular mathematical propositions, and particu-lar presentational symbols.Hierarchy of Concepts In this manner a hierarchy of concepts can be constructed foreach of the fundamental patterns of meaning discussed in Part Two.At the top appear those ideas that are shown to be fundamental tothe entire realm of meaning. Next come the characteristic features ofthe constituent disciplines, followed by ranks of important organizingconcepts in the various divisions and subdivisions of each subject.Probably no single order of precedence of concepts can be defended asthe right one. Different points of view can be taken regarding orga-nizing principles. For example, mathematicians are not agreed as towhether number or set is the more characteristic idea for mathemat-ics; a satisfactory hierarchy of concepts can be arranged either
  • 7. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 79way. The main objective is that some defensible organization of ideasin each discipline be achieved. It is hoped that the analyses of the disci-plines in Part Two may illustrate in a general and tentative way thelines along which such organization can proceed.
  • 8. 80 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means caution. The speed limit sign prescribes maximum speed, but not minimum speed. The driver on the right has the right of way at a four way stop sign. No passing on a double yellow stripe. To a licensed automobile driver, this is common sense. Unless a representative idea has been forwarded, driving a car from point A to point B, the unfamiliar could be confused. Can a student comprehend the elements of a lesson without knowing what it is leading to?
  • 9. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 81Picture
  • 10. 82 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION THE TASK OF THE SPECIALIST OR EXPERT IS TO WORK OUT PATTERNS OF REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS WITHIN THE DISCIPLINES The working out of patterns of representative ideas within theseveral disciplines is a task that only specialists in the disciplinesthemselves can really satisfactorily accomplish. Only experts withintimate understanding of their disciplines can make dependable judg-ments concerning the relative precedence of concepts and the ways inwhich ideas fit together in the pattern of the entire discipline. The spe-cialists who undertake this work also need a degree of philosophicalinterest and competence. They need to become critically aware oftheir enterprise as a whole and to be capable of developing interpre-tive categories in which to express the inter-relationships of ideaswithin the subject. TEACHING FIRST THE MOST REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS WOULD BE A MISTAKE If it is granted that disciplines have characteristic featuresand that it is possible to construct hierarchies of representativeideas, it still remains to be explained how these qualitatively specialconcepts are to be used by the teacher. It might appear that the an-swer to the crisis in learning is to select and teach first the most rep-resentative ideas, that is, the ones at the top of the hierarchy, thento move on to the next lower level, and so on down toward the par-ticularity and detail of the lowest level, as far as time permits. Sucha view of the principle of representative ideas in teaching is quite mis-taken. Instruction on such a basis would prove completely ineffective. CONTENT SHOULD BE CHOSEN TO EXEMPLIFY THE REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS OF THE DISCIPLINE— THESE IDEAS ARE HIGHLY ABSTRACT The principle as stated early in this chapter was that contentshould be chosen so as to exemplify the representative ideas of the dis-ciplines. The italics are important. It was not said the representativeideas themselves should be taught as explicit concepts. These ideas areof a highly abstract nature. They belong to the philosophical analy-sis of the disciplines. They have no place in the actual content of in-struction at the introductory stages. For example, the representativeidea of the principle of conservation is not an appropriate topic forexplicit abstract treatment in the early stages of physical science.The analytical concept of the musical idea is not a suitable way tobegin the study of music. The idea of personal knowledge as being con-crete, existential, and intersubjective is not of direct value for begin-ning instruction in that field, any more than the idea of the logicaldistinction between fact and obligation would be appropriate as anexplicit topic in elementary moral teaching. The representative ideasof history as the reenactment of unique events, of religion as ulti-mate commitment, and of philosophy as interpretation of meanings arelikewise not helpful as specific material for basic instruction in thesynoptic disciplines. The most fundamental ideas are usually not appropriate as ex-plicit content until a fairly advanced stage of understanding hasbeen reached. They are high abstractions that are not meaningful ex-cept to persons who possess a considerable fund of knowledge in the
  • 11. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 83subject to which they apply. The less comprehensive ideas are, themore easily they can be understood by the beginning student. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS GUIDE THE SELECTION LEARNABLE CONTENT SO THAT IT WILL EXEMPLIFY THE CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF THE DISCIPLINE What, then is the use of the representative ideas if they arenot suitable from the beginning as curriculum content? Their functionis to guide the selection of learnable content so that it will exemplifythe characteristic features of the disciplines. The place of the repre-sentative ideas is not in the first instance on the lips of the teacher,but in his mind, to direct him in the choice of learning experiences thatwill illustrate the ideas he has in mind. For example, in the arts notmuch would be learned if the teacher talked about individual percep-tual forms. What is required is a series of experiences all of which ex-emplify concern for the unique perceptual object. In the study of his-tory the student would not be helped very much initially by talkabout relevant evidence or about history being the best possible ex-planation of the present. He would be assisted by specific experiencesjudicially chosen to illustrate the meaning of relevance and the man-ner of using present data as the evidence for the construction of his-tory. AT EVERY STAGE OF INSTRUCTION, THE REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS SHOULD GOVERN WHAT IS TAUGHT In the beginning stages representative ideas are for the guid-ance of the teacher (or the curriculum maker) and not directly forthe student. Later they may be made explicit for the student and mayprove as useful to him in advancing and epitomizing his own under-standing as they are for the teacher. The essential point is that atevery stage of instruction the representative ideas should governwhat is taught. Every particular should manifest the larger conceptthat it illustrates. The poor teacher piles item upon item of informa-tion and experience, only making certain that each contribution fallswithin the subject being pursued. The good teacher, by contrast,chooses each item or experience with the deliberate purpose of givingsubstance to certain basic concepts that are distinctive and represen-tation of the discipline studied. TEACHING THROUGH THE USE OF REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS The manner in which representative ideas should be used inteaching is summed up in Alfred North Whitehead’s dictum that “theproblem of education is to make the pupil see the wood by means of thetrees.”1 The wood is the subject as a whole. The trees are the particu-lar instances chosen to exemplify the whole. This is the approach toteaching through the use of representative ideas, as advocated in theforegoing pages.1 The Aims of Education, New American Library of World Literature, Inc., NewYork, 1949, p. 18.
  • 12. 84 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONTeaching Using the Trees Only By way of contrast, three other common approaches to teach-ing may be noted. The first is to teach by using the trees only. This isthe method of simple accumulation of knowledge, piece by piece, with-out any consideration for the relationships among the parts or forthe structure of the whole. This is the way resorted to by those whoare confused about the meaning of the multiplicity of experiences pre-sented by modern life. They take refuge in particularity, heaping upfragments of existence without regard to their coherence or direction.While students may become absorbed in this flow of miscellaneous ex-perience, they sooner or later feel its emptiness, finding in the arbi-trary juxtaposition of ideas no satisfactory basis for personal ful-fillment.Teaching Use the Wood Only A second type of teaching is in direct contrast with the first.This is the way of teaching by using the wood only. Such teaching isconcerned only with general principles. It is the way of the theoreti-cally minded person, who loves abstractions above all. Concrete in-stances he regards as beneath his notice, for he dwells in the loftyatmosphere of pure idea. This kind of teaching would be tolerated, ifat all, only at the higher academic levels. Children and young peoplewould gain nothing from it and would properly react stronglyagainst it, because it is too remote from their concrete experience. This unsatisfactory second type is one that might readily beconfused with the method of teaching by the use of representativeideas. These ideas are general concepts that represent the wood—thediscipline as a whole. To economize learning effort it might be urgedthat these representative ideas be taught, leaving out all unneces-sary details. As pointed out earlier, such teaching would be empty.The students would learn nothing from it. They would at most learnhow to repeat certain philosophical generalities about the variousfields of study. The students would have no real understanding eitherof the disciplines or of the general ideas they had learned to utter. For example, a student of mathematics might know that the dis-cipline has to do with abstraction, sets, deductive inference, and pos-tulational method and yet not really understand the subject at all,because he had never seen and savored these elemental ideas throughspecific illustrations. Again, a student who knew history in the ab-stract sense that he could describe the subject as the reenactment ofunique past events, using relevant evidence, would not really under-stand history unless these abstractions had first been brought to lifefor him by particular illuminating illustrations.Teaching By Using the Trees By Means of the Wood A third approach to instruction is to help the student see thetrees by means of the wood. Here the emphasis is on the particular in-stance, and the generalizations are used to make the individual caseintelligible. For example, music may be studied with the ultimate ob-jective of understanding particular musical compositions, and repre-sentative concepts, such as rhythm and harmonic texture, may be in-troduced only when needed to render certain features of the individualworks intelligible, but there may be no attempt to comprehend thelarger meaning of music as a significant human activity. Again, lan-
  • 13. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 85guage may be studied purely for the sake of speaking it, and represen-tative ideas like morpheme and paradigmatic class (regardless ofwhether or not such technical terms are used) may be introduced onlyto clarify certain meanings or constructions that prove difficult inthe course of studying the language, rather than to afford an under-standing of the significance of the language enterprise as a whole. The distinctively human goal in learning is to expand meaningsbeyond particulars to the larger patterns of understanding. Humanfulfillment consists in enriching and deepening comprehension throughthe ever-expanding integration of experience. Seeing the trees is notappropriate as an ultimate goal of learning. It is doubtful that one could understand the wood by which tosee the trees if he had not first been shown the wood by means of thetrees. In the music example above, it is doubtful the general conceptsof rhythm and harmonic texture would have any clarifying powerwhen applied to particular compositions unless these ideas had earlierbecome meaningful in themselves through vivid particular exemplifica-tions. In the language instance it is doubtful that the general ideas ofmorpheme and paradigmatic class would be of any help in particularsituations unless these concepts had already become significantthrough carefully chosen illustrations directed at illuminating theirmeaning. THE AIM OF TEACHING IS COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING We return to the proposition that the aim of teaching is com-prehensive understanding. The way to achieve comprehensive under-standing in teaching is to choose particular materials for instructionthat in an unusual degree exemplify the pattern of the subject as awhole. Another way of stating this is to say that the particulars ofinstruction should be representative, typical, or paradigmatic materi-als, their representativeness being measured by how well they showthe typical features of the discipline they are supposed to illuminate. A STUDENT TAUGHT BY THE USE OF REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS UNDERSTANDS MEANING FULLY A drastic reduction in the amount of what has to be learnedcan be effected by the use of representative materials. The studentcomes to an implicit understanding of the characteristic features ofthe disciplines step by step. By the consistent nature of his experiencesin connection with a given discipline he gains an intimate sense of itsbasic patterns, so that he can make sound judgments regarding mate-rials in it and can readily familiarize himself with new knowledge asit develops in the field. Of greatest importance, however, is the conse-quence that a student taught by the use of representative ideas un-derstands meaning fully. he possesses a power of inner appropria-tion, by which he feels himself at home in the universe of meanings.
  • 14. 86 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION The purpose of representative ideas is to define what the final outcome of edu- cation in that discipline should be. In some cases a more general statement of what is to be ac- complished will be more successful than in oth-ers. If the student athlete is told that the object of the race is to run to the other end of the track faster than everyone else, he/she willprobably understand. If the young flutist is told that the object of music is to play a concerto for the esthetic enjoyment of the audience, suc-cess will probably be harder to come by. Teach- ers must then be trained in how to present thematerial to be learned in a way that will bring the student to the desired level of achievement. How does the teacher determine whether or notthe final outcome has been achieved as expected?
  • 15. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 87Picture
  • 16. 88 PART THREE: THE CURRICULUM FOR GENERAL EDUCATION REPRESENTATIVE MATERIALS INCREASE EFFICIENCY IN LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS OF THE DISCIPLINES Teaching by the use of representative materials is not a recentinnovation. Good teachers have always practiced the art of communi-cating the essence of their subject by means of unusually illuminatingspecific examples. What is required in the contemporary situation is adeliberate cultivation of such teaching, based on a clear recognitionof the close relation between efficiency in learning and knowledge ofthe characteristic ideas of the disciplines. Some of the best new in-structional materials, particularly in mathematics and the sciences,have been prepared by the cooperative efforts of scholars in the dis-ciplines and teachers at the various grade levels affected. The valueof these materials is due in large measure to the fact that they unitethe necessary pedagogical specificity with a high degree of disciplinerepresentativeness. More such materials for the teacher’s use are ur-gently needed in all areas of the curriculum. Since the individualteacher seldom has the time or ingenuity to create his own represen-tative materials, he must normally make use of published guides.Great opportunities exist today for the advancement of educationthrough the joint efforts of experienced classroom teachers, curricu-lum experts, and scholars in the disciplines in providing study materi-als constructed on sound principles from both pedagogy and the theo-ry of knowledge. WAYS OF KNOWING1. Why is the first principle for the selection of curriculum con- tent to discriminate between disciplined and undisciplined materi- als?2. Why is the second principle for the selection of curriculum con- tent to choose content that exemplifies the representative ideas of the disciplines?3. What is a “representative idea”?4. What is the form, pattern, or structure of representative ideas?5. How do representative ideas help in economizing the learning ef- fort?6. How are representative ideas both principles of growth and principles of simplification?7. Why are representative ideas very special elements?8. How is representativeness a matter of degree?9. How are ideas comprising a discipline arranged in a hierarchi- cal order?10. Why is it important to know how the hierarchy of concepts can be constructed for each of the fundamental patterns of mean- ing?11. Why is the task of the specialist or expert to work out the pat- terns of representative ideas within the disciplines?12. Why does the specialist or expert need to have a certain degree of philosophical interest and competence?13. Why would teaching first the most representative ideas be a mistake?
  • 17. REPRESENTATIVE IDEAS 8914. Why should content be chosen so as to exemplify the represen- tative ideas of the disciplines?15. How are representative ideas highly abstract?16. Why is it that the less comprehensive ideas are, the more easily they can be understood?17. How are representative ideas used to guide in the selection of learnable content so it will exemplify the characteristic fea- tures of the discipline?18. Why is it critically important that at every stage of instruc- tion that the representative ideas govern what is to be taught?19. How does the good teacher choose each item or experience with the deliberate purpose of giving substance to certain basic con- cepts that are distinctive and representative of the discipline studies?20. What does Alfred North Whitehead’s dictum mean that “the problem of education is to make the pupil see the wood by means of the trees”? (Source: The Aims of Education, New American Library of World Literature, Inc., New York, 1949, p. 18.)21. Why is the aim of teaching comprehensive understanding?22. How do we achieve comprehensive understanding as a teacher?23. How can teaching by the use of representative ideas cause the student to possess a power of inner appropriation, by which he feels himself at home in the universe of meanings?24. How do representative materials increase efficiency in learning and knowledge of the representative ideas of the disciplines?