Curriculum theory


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Introduction to Curriculum Theory. Guest lecture at the University of New South Wales (2012).

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Curriculum theory

  1. 1. + Common Methods Lecture Series Lecture 3 Robert J. Parkes, PhD Senior Lecturer in Curriculum Studies The University of Newcastle, Australia
  2. 2. + Understanding Curriculum Theory [or How to understand where this lecture is coming from!]  “Curriculum theory is a distinctive field of study, with a unique history, a complex present, an uncertain future . . . [that] has its origin in and owes its loyalty to the discipline and experience of education” (p. 2).1  The practice of curriculum theorizing and design is not singular or uniform but multiple, fractured and contested;2 and conceptions and cultures of curriculum vary, sometimes dramatically.3 1. Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 2. Wright, H. K. (2000). Nailing jell-o to the wall: Pinpointing aspects of state-of-the-art curriculum theorizing. Educational Researcher, 29(5), 4-13. 3. Joseph, P., Bravmann, S., Windschitl, M., Mikel, E., & Green, N. (2000). Cultures of curriculum. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  3. 3. + What is curriculum?  THINK: Take a minute to write down your own definition of curriculum.  PAIR: Compare it with the definition written down by your neighbours.  SHARE: Be ready to share your definition with your peers in the lecture theatre. The first step in understanding curriculum is a regressive autobiographical one. Here we move to understand “where we are coming from” with regard to curriculum. For the “method of currere” see: Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
  4. 4. + What is curriculum?  All of the learning planned and directed by the school to attain its educational goals.4  Refers to the learning experience of students, as expressed or anticipated in goals and objectives, plans and designs, and their implementation.5 4. Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Or see: Tyler, R. W. (2004). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. In D. J. Flinders & S. J. Thornton (Eds.), The curriculum studies reader (pp. 51- 60). New York: Routledge. 5. Skilbeck, M. (1984). School based curriculum development. London: Harper & Row Ltd. The most common answer to this question: The Syllabus as a set of educational prescriptions [ Usually a set of official Aims, Knowledge, Skills, & Values ]
  5. 5. + Example: The International Baccalaureate Curriculum Map Curriculum as cartography?
  6. 6. + So what is the curriculum?  the collection of all school subjects?  the Syllabus for a specific school subject or Key Learning Area?  a Scope and sequence that maps how the syllabus prescriptions will be met in an individual school?  a Unit of Work that outlines the teaching and learning strategies and goals for a specific set of syllabus topics?  Lesson Plans for individual lessons that work towards the achievement of unit goals? The Explicit, Plan ned, or Official Curriculum
  7. 7. + “Currere” the lived experience of education?6  What the teacher actually does to enact the lesson plan during a specific class or period?  What students actually experience in the classroom during a specific lesson . . . or even over the course of their entire schooling? 6. Pinar, W. F. (1975). Currere: Towards reconceptualization. In W. F. Pinar (Ed.), Curriculum theorizing: The reconceptualists. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan. Image from Paramount Picture‟s School of Rock
  8. 8. + The Three Curricula that all Schools Teach To understand curriculum we must explore“what is valued and given priority and what is devalued and excluded” (p. 297).7 Explicit Implicit / Hidden Null The official written syllabi, programmes, lesson plans, and policies. The learning of attitudes, norms, beliefs, values and assumptions often expressed as/by rules, rituals and regulations… common-sense knowledge… rarely questioned or articulated.8 What is not included in the curriculum and consequently those ideas and skills that are withheld from students that they might otherwise have used.9 Whose interests are being served by the explicit, implicit, and null curriculum? 7. Cherryholmes, C. H. (1987). A social project for curriculum: Post-structural perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 19(4), 295- 316. 8. Seddon, T. (1983). The hidden curriculum: An overview. Curriculum Perspectives, 3(1), 1-6. 9. Eisner, E. W. (1979). The educational imagination: on the design and evaluation of school programs. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.
  9. 9. + Curriculum constitutes particular rationalities at the expense of others  “Curricula are historically formed within systems of ideas that inscribe styles of reasoning, standards, and conceptual distinctions in school practices” (p. 151). [Offering] “an ensemble of methods and strategies that inscribe principles for action” (p. 163). . . [and particular] “styles of reasoning” (p. 151). Curriculum must therefore be understood as “a practice of governing and an effect of power” (p. 151).10  Curriculum forms our ways of reasoning about the self and the world, and the rationalities that emerge from this process are constituted not only by what it includes, but by what it implies and neglects.11 10. Popkewitz, T. S. (2001). The production of reason and power: Curriculum history and intellectual traditions. In T. S. Popkewitz, B. M. Franklin & M. A. Pereyra (Eds.), Cultural history and education: Critical essays on knowledge and schooling (pp. 151-183). New York: Routledge Falmer. 11. Parkes, R. J. (2011). Interrupting history: Rethinking history curriculum after 'the end of history'. New York: Peter Lang.
  10. 10. + 12. Kemmis, S., & Fitzclarence, L. (1986). Curriculum theorizing: Beyond reproduction theory. Geelong, Victoria: Deakin University. 13. Green, B. (2010). Rethinking the representation problem in curriculum inquiry. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 42(4), 451-469. What is the function of curriculum? Lessons from the Deakin School  The double problem12 of the relationship between:  theory and practice [curriculum provides a set of representations of a ‘world outside’]  education and society [curriculum operates as a site of cultural reproduction]  Re-examing the work of Ulf Lundgren and the Deakin School, Green13 refers to this as the unresolved problem of representation and reproduction.
  11. 11. + 14. Gundem, B. B., & Hopmann, S. (Eds.). (2002). Didaktik and/or curriculum: An international dialogue. New York: Peter Lang. The Key Curriculum Question/s  Anglo-American Curriculum Tradition: What knowledge is of most worth?* [What should be taught?]  European Bildung-Influenced Didaktik Tradition:14 What will the student become? [What should the student become?] * Whose knowledge is being taught?
  12. 12. + Vertical and Horizontal Knowledge Structures15 Horizontal Knowledge Structures  Everyday “common-sense” knowledge, that is typically oral, local, context dependent and specific, tacit, multi-layered, and contradictory across but not within contexts.  Culturally specified knowledges and practices. 15. Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 157-173. Note, that Vygotsky made a very similar distinction in the 1930s, when he referred to “everyday” and “scientific” knowledge, and based a good deal of his psychology on the pedagogical implications of such a distinction. See: Vygotsky, L. S. (1934/1997). Thinking and speech (N. Minick, Trans.). In R. W. Rieber & A. S. Carton (Eds.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky (Vol. 1: Problems of general psychology, pp. 39-288). New York: Plenum Press. Vertical Knowledge Structures  Either coherent, explicit, and systematically principled structure, hierarchically organised, as in the sciences.  Or a series of specialised languages with specialised modes of interrogation and specialised criteria for the production and circulation of texts, as in the social sciences and humanities.
  13. 13. + Curriculum as Induction into Powerful Knowledge Young (2007) argues that the curriculum‟s job is to induct students into “powerful knowledge”16 (not just “knowledge of the powerful”). Key features of “powerful knowledge”:  it provides reliable and in a broad sense provides „testable‟ explanations or ways of thinking;  it is the basis for suggesting realistic alternatives;  it enables those who acquire it to see beyond their everyday experience;  it is conceptual as well as based on evidence and experience;  it is always open to challenge;  it is acquired in specialist educational institutions, staffed by specialists;  it is organised into domains with boundaries that are not arbitrary and these domains are associated with specialist communities such as subject and professional associations, and in that way is typically discipline-based. 16. Young, M. (2007). Bringing knowledge back in: From social constructivism to social realism in the sociology of education. London: Routledge.
  14. 14. + Constructions of Curriculum [or Different answers to the double problem of curriculum] 17. Eisner, E. W., & Vallance, E. (Eds.). (1974). Conflicting conceptions of curriculum. Berkley, CA: McCutchan Publishing Corporation. 18. Schiro, M. S. (2008). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications. Eisner’s Model17 Schiro’s Model18 academic rationalism concerned with “enabling the young to acquire the tools to participate in the Western cultural tradition.” (p. 12) Academic Idealist Curriculum the development of cognitive processes concerned with “the refinement of intellectual operations.” (p. 5) Techno-Rationalist Curriculum technology concerned with “finding efficient means to a set of predefined, unproblematic ends.” (p. 7) self-actualization concerned with education “as an enabling process.” (p. 9) Learner-Centred Curriculum social reconstruction concerned with “social reform and responsibility to the future of society.” (p. 10) Social Reconstructionist Curriculum
  15. 15. + Academic Idealist Curriculum Concept Detail Knowledge is: Statements and Propositions Source of Knowledge is: Objective reality as defined by an academic discipline Curriculum Goal: To advance students‟ knowledge and skills within a discipline / form of knowledge Teacher’s Role: Transmitter of Knowledge or “Sage on the Stage” Children’s Role: Passive Receivers Assessment: Ranks students for a future in the disciplinary field
  16. 16. + Techno-Rational Curriculum Concept Detail Knowledge is: Capabilities for action Source of Knowledge is: Objective reality as socially agreed upon by experts Curriculum Goal: To induct children into culturally powerful knowledge in the most effective and efficient way possible. Teacher’s Role: Learning Manager Children’s Role: Active Practice Assessment: Certifies to a client (ie. Business) that the student has attained certain skills
  17. 17. + Learner-Centred Curriculum Concept Detail Knowledge is: Personal Meanings Source of Knowledge is: Individual‟s personal creative response to experience Curriculum Goal: To stimulate individual growth and assist students‟ to realise their full potential Teacher’s Role: Facilitator or “Guide on the Side” Children’s Role: Active Participants Assessment: Diagnoses students‟ abilities to inform future lesson planning to best support children‟s learning
  18. 18. + Social Reconstructionist Curriculum Concept Detail Knowledge is: Critical Intelligence & Moral Clarity Source of Knowledge is: Individual‟s interpretation of society‟s past, present, and future Curriculum Goal: To liberate, emancipate and empower students‟ to critique culture and transform society towards a more just and fair world Teacher’s Role: Transformative Intellectual and Colleague Children’s Role: Active Participants & Leaders Assessment: Measures progress with respect to a student‟s perceived capacities and abilities
  19. 19. + Tensions Between the four major Curriculum Discourses Social Reconstructionist Academic Idealist Learner Centred Techno-Rational
  20. 20. + Academic Idealist Learner Centred Teaching Subjects? Teaching Students? Tensions Between Academic Idealist and Learner Centred Curriculum Discourses
  21. 21. + Tensions Between Techno-Rational and Social Reconstructionist Curriculum Discourses Social Reconstructionist Education as Social Transformation? Techno-Rational Education as Social Reproduction?
  22. 22. + Reflection on Curriculum [Three Questions to Consider]  What approaches to curriculum did you experience as a student in school?  What approaches to curriculum have you encountered at university?  What is your own preferred way of thinking about curriculum? Social Reconstructionist Academic Idealist Learner Centred Techno-Rational
  23. 23. + Curriculum Perspectives How do teachers respond to and negotiate these multiple and conflicting curriculum ideologies? According to Schiro (2008):19  Dualistic  Hierarchical  Relativistic  Contextual Social Reconstructionist Academic Idealist Learner Centred Techno-Rational 19. Schiro, M. S. (2008). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
  24. 24. + Recent Curriculum Reforms through the Lens of Curriculum Theory  What type of curriculum discourse underpins Queensland‟s New Basics and Rich Tasks?  What type of curriculum discourse underpins the structures of the new Australian Curriculum?  What type of curriculum discourse underpins NAPLAN and other forms of national testing?  What type of curriculum discourse underpins the NSW Quality Teaching model?  What type of curriculum discourse underpins the Early Years Learning Framework?  What are the dominant curriculum discourses circulating in contemporary Australia?  Whose interests do these discourses serve?  If other discourses were dominant, what might the construction of contemporary curriculum look like?
  25. 25. + Etymology Course of the Circus Maximus Race Track, Running Race Kleibard’s Metaphors20 Production, Growth, Travel Tracking Meanings of Curriculum [Curriculum as ‘the course’] Circus Maximus 20. Kliebard, H. M. (1975). Metaphorical roots of curriculum design. In W. Pinar (Ed.), Curriculum theorizing: The reconceptualists (pp. 84- 85). Berkley, CA: McCutchan Publishing Corporation. Piccadilly Circus Does the end have to be known in advance? (Re-Tooling the Metaphor) Circus, Road Trip, Map, Rhizom e, or Lines of Flight? 3-Ringed Circus
  26. 26. + Curriculum needs to be understood as a Complicated Conversation21 “Curriculum discourse should be marked by richness, diversity, discordant voices, fecundity, multiple rationalities, and theories, and should be touched by humanity and practicality in a hundred thousand contexts.” (p. 487)22 21. Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. 22. Morrison, K. R. B. (2004). The poverty of curriculum theory: A critique of Wraga and Hlebowitsh. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36(4), 487-494.