Curriculum is a relatively young field beginning primarily during the second and third decade of the 20 th century. This development followed the rise of schooling during the industrialized 19 th century where burgeoning economies needed to shape and train workers and immigrants were flooding to North America and needed to be absorbed quickly into society. While other fields are sometimes interested in questions of teaching and learning and the issues of unfolding pedagogy, only in education do we study curriculum consistently. Our research contributes to learning and teaching in schools and more broadly in society.
North American curriculum roots were in administrative convenience influenced by behaviorism. Work addresses elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators quite specifically. Aims toward improvement rather than understanding and action and results rather than inquiry.
Curriculum specialists today still represent a spectrum of disciplines. Examples in this faculty—Bill Higginson, mathematics; me, English; Ann Marie Hill, technology etc. By the end of the 1920s courses of study that focused on curriculum were available in universities housed in departments of educational administration or secondary education. Curriculum did not begin as an addition to an extant field, but rather as an administrative convenience: professional responsibility for curricular matters and so we have different kinds of thinking from scientific to artistic. Attempts, therefore, to achieve consensus about the limits of concerns and approaches has been impossible to achieve.
Because of its administrative history, instead of being viewed as a complex presence in the schools requiring understanding, curriculum was viewed as the organization of time and activities managed according to sound business principles.
With these categories as his knowledge base, Charters developed a curriculum for the college. Some tendencies of this work remain today in behavioral objectives and observable and measurable competencies.
There is no disciplinary coherence or rationale in either asking or answering Tyler’s four “basic” questions. They have a businesslike nature as they insist on knowing in advance how to handle “practical” problems of curriculum development, implementation and evaluation.
The best known book that launched Dewey into the curriculum field is The Child and the Curriculum , 1902. Dewey’s influence is incalculable. His ideas have consistently remained and influenced education although not always the mainstream.
The launching of Sputnik by the Soviets seemed to demonstrate “how far behind’ the Americans were. Natural and behavioral scientists, mathematicians, humanists, and representatives from many other disciplines were in the vanguard of the reform movement.
Bruner’s book summarized the discussions in Woods Hole in 1959 that brought together discipline-based specialists led by Bruner to decide what to teach and how to teach content. There were attempts to establish curriculum as an intellectually serious field. But these were not very successful. By 1970 it was possible for a philosopher, Joseph Schwab, to write a well-known essay that characterized the curriculum field as “moribund.” But another force was arising.
Curriculum can be understood in any comprehensive sense only if it is contextualized socially, economically and politically. That is, curriculum cannot be grasped unless it is viewed in context. This seems commonplace today but pre 1970, curriculum was generally seen as politically neutral. There is a visionary element among political theorists as they call for an empowered citizenry capable of altering their circumstances in favour of a more just society. While this could be seen as part of the political realm, most curriculum theorists believe that the power and complexity of scholarship on race and curriculum believe it needs to be a specific focus of study and discussion. The racial constitution of the curriculum is the concern of these theorists. To understand curriculum as gender text is to investigate the relationships between curriculum and gender. It is to subject the curriculum and its discourses to feminist analysis, radical homosexual or gay analysis or queer theory and gender analysis, concerned with the unequal ways people are regarded due to their gender and sexuality and the ways we construct and are constructed by the prevailing system of gender. These movements share a rejection of structuralism, humanism, and modernism, a repudiation of the ways various academic disciplines have “traditionally” presented their versions of reality. This perspective rejects rationalism (bottom line reality) and empiricism because they fail to account for the world as experienced by human beings. They question how the things themselves present themselves in the lived experience of the individual. Working in this way is rigorous and requires a profound sense of what is competent and practical in educational conduct and a sense of political consequence. Three streams: 1)autobiographical theory and practice including concepts of currere , collaboration, voice, dialogue journals, place, poststructuralist portraits of self and experience, and myth dreams and the imagination. 2) feminist autobiography including the concepts of community and reclaiming the self. 3) understanding teachers biographically and autobiographically including collaborative biography and autobiographical praxis and the personal practical knowledge of
Metaphysical—Truth is an ideal and incorporeal form—best accessed by denying the body; while the physical is a reference to those things of the body as separate from the spirit or mind in western thought. Gnosis—concerned with meaning and the eternal and universal aspects of existence, the origins of life, the foundations of culture Episteme—everyday and practical know-how. A complement to gnosis, which is more concerned with matters of spiritual meaning and divine truth.
We will develop the habits of mind that develop curriculum theorizing—that is we will draw from different theoretical frameworks—and use those frameworks to investigate the questions of learning and teaching that interest us and the subject areas in which we work.
This work was aimed at administrative convenience rather than intellectual necessity. Newlon developed curriculum in specific subject areas at the same grade level (horizontal integration) and across grade levels (vertical integration).
He invited teachers trained in different academic backgrounds to develop the courses of study.
Our schools are, in a sense, factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down. This demands good tools, specialized machinery, continuous measurement of production to see if it works according to specifications, the elimination of waste in manufacture, and large variety in the output.
[I]nternationalizing curriculum inquiry might best be understood as a process of creating transnational “spaces” in which scholars from different localities collaborate in reframing and decentering their own knowledge traditions and negotiate trust in each other’s contributions to their collective work. -Noel Gough (2003)