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Curriculum theory and practice
Curriculum theory and practice.The organization of schooling and f urther education has long been associated with the idea of a curriculum. But what actually is curriculum, and how might it be conceptualized? We explore curriculum theory and practice and its relation to inf ormal education.
Contents: introduction · curriculum as transmission · curriculum as product · curriculum as process · curriculum as praxis · curriculum and context · curriculum and inf ormal education · f urther reading · links · how to cite this article T he idea of curriculum is hardly new – but the way we understand and theorize it has altered over the years – and there remains considerable dispute as to meaning. It has its origins in the running/chariot tracks of Greece. It was, literally, a course. In Latin curriculum was a racing chariot; currere was to run. A usef ul starting point f or us here might be the def inition of f ered by John Kerr and taken up by Vic Kelly in his standard work on the subject. Kerr def ines curriculum as, ‘All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school. (quoted in Kelly 1983: 10; see also, Kelly 1999). T his gives us some basis to move on – and f or the moment all we need to do is highlight two of the key
Basically it means a concise statement or table of the heads of a discourse. T he definition refers to schooling. say. In the f orm that many of us will have been f amiliar with it is connected with courses leading to examinations – teachers talk of the syllabus associated with. Curriculum as praxis. 3. We should recognize that our current appreciation of curriculum theory and practice emerged in the school and in relation to other schooling ideas such as subject and lesson. 2. originates f rom the Greek (although there was some conf usion in its usage due to early misprints). the process and praxis models come close to practical deliberation.
It is helpf ul to consider these ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice in the light of Aristotle’s inf luential categorization of knowledge into three disciplines: the theoretical. and the technical concerns of the outcome or product model mirror elements of Aristotle’s characterization of the productive.
Here we can see some clear links – the body of knowledge to be transmitted in the f irst is that classically valued as ‘the canon’.f eatures: Learning is planned and guided . Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted . the Cambridge Board French GSCE exam.
. More this will be revealed as we examine the theory underpinning individual models. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product. the contents of a treatise. 4. We have to specif y in advance what we are seeking to achieve and how we are to go about it. In what f ollows we are going to look at f our ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice:
1. Curriculum as process. Syllabus.
Curriculum as a syllabus t o be t ransmit t ed
Many people still equate a curriculum with a syllabus. What we can see in such documents is a series of headings with some additional notes which set out the areas that may be examined. the subjects of a series of lectures. naturally. the productive and the practical.
1928) and Ralph W. Education in this sense. T hus. A f amiliar. since they have not regarded their task as being to transmit bodies of knowledge in this manner’. Kelly (1985: 7) claims. Bobbitt’s work and theory met with mixed responses. It is a way of thinking about education that has grown in inf luence in the United Kingdom since the late 1970s with the rise of vocationalism and the concern with competencies. These will show the abilities. however varied. In The Curriculum Bobbitt writes as f ollows:
The central theory [of curriculum] is simple. (1918: 42)
T his way of thinking about curriculum theory and practice was heavily inf luenced by the development of management thinking and practice. a plan drawn up. example of this approach can be f ound in many training programmes. or – consciously or unconsciously – a the shape of a university course in which they may have participated. This requires only that one go out into the world of affairs and discover the particulars of which their affairs consist. live their lives and so on. and the outcomes (products) measured. ‘It is also because this view of curriculum has been adopted that many teachers in primary schools’. or a pattern prescribed by a ‘logical’ approach to the subject. T hus. W. and more restricted. where particular tasks or jobs have been analyzed – broken down into their component elements – and lists of competencies drawn up. consists in the performance of specific activities.A syllabus will not generally indicate the relative importance of its topics or the order in which they are to be studied. in the late 1980s and the 1990s many of the debates about the National Curriculum f or schools did not so much concern how the curriculum was thought about as to what its objectives and content might be. definite and particularized. The curriculum will then be that series of experiences which children and youth must have by way of obtaining those objectives. Where people still equate curriculum with a syllabus they are likely to limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit. an approach to curriculum theory and practice which f ocuses on syllabus is only really concerned with content. These will be the objectives of the curriculum. In other words. All three elements were involved in this conception of curriculum theory and practice.
Curriculum as product
T he dominant modes of describing and managing education are today couched in the productive f orm. Education that prepares for life is one that prepares definitely and adequately for these specific activities. It is the work of two American writers Franklin Bobbitt (1918. Taylor. Human life. For example. and can
. then applied. One telling criticism that was made. one of the attractions of this approach to curriculum theory was that it involved detailed attention to what people needed to know in order to work. is the process by which these are transmitted or ‘delivered’ to students by the most ef f ective methods that can be devised (Blenkin et al 1992: 23). an extension of managerial control over all elements of the workplace. They will be numerous. ‘have regarded issues of curriculum as of no concern to them. Education is most of ten seen as a technical exercise. appreciations and forms of knowledge that men need. and cost accounting based on systematic time-and-motion study. Objectives are set. Curriculum is a body of knowledge-content and/or subjects. attitudes. However numerous and diverse they may be for any social class they can be discovered. those who compile a syllabus tend to f ollow the traditional textbook approach of an ‘order of contents’. T he rise of ‘scientif ic management’ is of ten associated with the name of its main advocate F. habits. the curriculum was not to be the result of ‘armchair speculation’ but the product of systematic study. Tyler (1949) that dominate theory and practice within this tradition. Basically what he proposed was greater division of labour with jobs being simplif ied. In some cases as Curzon (1985) points out.
Bobbitt’s long lists of objectives and his emphasis on order and structure hardly sat comf ortably with such f orms. of such approaches is that there is no social vision or programme to guide the process of curriculum construction. in particular. Tyler. it wasn’t criticisms such as this which initially limited the impact of such curriculum theory in the late 1920s and 1930s.continue to be made. He shared Bobbitt’s emphasis on rationality and relative simplicity. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? 3. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (Tyler 1949: 1) Like Bobbitt he also placed an emphasis on the f ormulation of behavioural objectives.
Since the real purpose of education is not to have the instructor perform certain activities but to bring about significant changes in the students’ pattern of behaviour. (Taba 1962)
T he attraction of this way of approaching curriculum theory and practice is that it is systematic and has considerable organizing power. it becomes important to recognize that any statements of objectives of the school should be a statement of changes to take place in the students. T he f irst is that the plan or programme assumes great importance. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? 2. However. has made a lasting impression on curriculum theory and practice. Central to the approach is the f ormulation of behavioural objectives – providing a clear notion of outcome so that content and method may be organized and the results evaluated. As it stands it is a technical exercise. (Tyler 1949: 44)
We can see how these concerns translate into a nicely-ordered procedure: one that is very similar to the technical or productive thinking set out below. How can these educational experiences be ef f ectively organized? 4. Rather. the growing inf luence of ‘progressive’. T here are a number of issues with this approach to curriculum theory and practice. T he Progressive movement lost much of its momentum in the late 1940s in the United States and f rom that period the work of Ralph W. His theory was based on f our f undamental questions: 1. For example. child-centred approaches shif ted the ground to more romantic notions of education.
Step 1: Diagnosis of need Step 2: Formulation of objectives Step 3: Selection of content Step 4: Organization of content Step 5: Selection of learning experiences Step 6: Organization of learning experiences Step 7: Determination of what to evaluate and of the ways and means of doing it. we might look at a more recent def inition of curriculum
as is the case with the National Curriculum in the UK. f or example). T he problem here is that such programmes inevitably exist prior to and outside the learning experiences. and the way in which it mimics industrial management have been powerf ul f actors in its success. I think we need to take this problem very seriously and not dismiss it in this way. T he result. most inf ormal educators who have been around a f ew years will have had the experience of an ex-participant telling them in great detail about how some f orgotten event (f orgotten to the worker that is) brought about some f undamental change. T his can lead to a f ocus in this approach to curriculum theory and practice on the parts rather than the whole. T here are obvious dangers here – there always has to be some uncertainty about what is being measured. T his takes much away f rom learners. The demand for objectives is a demand for justification rather than a description of ends… It is not about curriculum design. T hey are told what they must learn and how they will do it. Much of the research concerning teacher thinking and classroom interaction. A f urther appeal has been the ability of academics to use the model to attack teachers:
I believe there is a tendency. rather than the signif icant. as many of you will have experienced. but rather an expression of irritation in the problems of
. particularly in the USA. T hey can end up with little or no voice. It turns educators into technicians. mechanistically measured. T he logic of this approach is f or the curriculum to be designed outside of the classroom or school. things have to be broken down into smaller and smaller units. a number of curriculum programmes. Educators then apply programmes and are judged by the products of their actions.as: ‘A programme of activities (by teachers and pupils) designed so that pupils will attain so f ar as possible certain educational and other schooling ends or objectives (Grundy 1987: 11). have attempted to make the student experience ‘teacher proof ’. there are questions around the nature of objectives. It is a model of curriculum theory and practice largely imported f rom technological and industrial settings. T his model is hot on measurability. Yet there is something more. for academics in education to use the objectives model as a stick with which to beat teachers. ‘What are your objectives?’ is more often asked in a tone of challenge than one of interested and helpful inquiry. Sometimes it is years af ter the event that we come to appreciate something of what has happened. T he success or f ailure of both the programme and the individual learners is judged on the basis of whether pre-specif ied changes occur in the behaviour and person of the learner (the meeting of behavioural objectives). and curriculum innovation has pointed to the lack of impact on actual pedagogic practice of objectives (see Stenhouse 1974. We only have to ref lect on questions of success in our work. recurrent enough to suggest that it may be endemic in the approach. T he f ocus on pre-specif ied goals may lead both educators and learners to overlook learning that is occurring as a result of their interactions. One way of viewing this is that teachers simply get it wrong – they ought to work with objectives. T he role of overall judgment is somehow sidelined. and Cornbleth 1990. When all the items are ticked. the person has passed the course or has learnt something. T hird. f or example. Second. there is the problem of unanticipated results. there can only be limited opportunity f or educators to make use of the interactions that occur. there is a real problem when we come to examine what educators actually do in the classroom. It can lead to an approach to education and assessment which resembles a shopping list. T he dif f iculties that educators experience with objectives in the classroom may point to something inherently wrong with the approach – that it is not grounded in the study of educational exchanges. T he apparent simplicity and rationality of this approach to curriculum theory and practice. For example. Fourth. on the trivial. It implies that behaviour can be objectively. It is of ten very dif f icult to judge what the impact of particular experiences has been. It also can deskill educators in another way. can be long lists of of ten trivial skills or competencies. In order to measure. If the plan is tightly adhered to. For example. but which is not listed as an objective.
accountability in education. What we have in this model is a number of elements in constant interaction.
continually evaluate the process and what they can see of outcomes. the context in which the process occurs (‘particular schooling situations’). people in the situation
out of which may come
thinking and action. they encourage
conversations between. and with. Here I have described that as entering the situation with ‘a proposal f or action which sets out essential principles and f eatures of the educational encounter’. (Stenhouse 1974: 77)
So what are the other alternatives?
Curriculum as process
We have seen that the curriculum as product model is heavily dependent on the setting of behavioural objectives. curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate. In other words. and a proposal for action which sets out essential principles and features of the educational encounter.
Perhaps the two major things that set this apart f rom the model f or inf ormal education are f irst. essentially.
Guided by these. the f act that teachers enter the classroom or any other f ormal educational setting with a more f ully worked-through idea of what is about to happen. students and knowledge. It is an active process and links with the practical f orm of reasoning set out by Aristotle. but rather the interaction of teachers. -in-action an understanding of their role and the expectations others have of them. T he curriculum.
Curriculum as process
Teachers enter particular schooling and situations with
an ability to think critically. is a set of documents f or implementation. Another way of looking at curriculum theory and practice is via process. and second. In this sense curriculum is not a physical thing.
as Robin Barrow (1984) points out. 3. Principles on which to study and evaluate the progress of students. within limits. The recipe offered publicly is in a sense a report on the experiment. It is an attempt to describe the work observed in classrooms that it is adequately communicated to teachers and others. Finally. a curriculum should provide a basis f or planning a course. It should of f er: A. is that otherwise there is a danger of widening the meaning of the term so much that it embraces almost everything and hence means very little. is that what this does is to widen the meaning of the term to such an extent that it just about becomes interchangeable with ‘education’ itself . We also need to ref lect on why curriculum theory and practice came into use by educators (as against policymakers). Similarly. B. if they go wrong. T his was then developed and a curriculum became: ‘an organic process by which learning is of f ered. T he problem with this sort of def inition. Principles on which to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and dif f erentiate the general principles 1. He def ined curriculum tentatively: ‘A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and f eatures of an educational proposal in such a f orm that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of ef f ective translation into practice’. a curriculum should be grounded in practice. In planning : 1. Principle f or the selection of content – what is to be learned and taught 2. T his is what Stenhouse was picking up on. More specif ically.
It can be criticized on nutritional or gastronomic grounds – does it nourish the students and does it taste good? – and it can be criticized on the grounds of practicality – we can’t get hold of six dozen larks’ tongues and the grocer can’t find any ground unicorn horn! A curriculum. as a means of enabling educators to make judgments about the direction their work was taking. like the recipe for a dish. 4.
St enhouse on curriculum
As a minimum. I suspect. to meet individual cases. inhibit a person’s learning’. 2 and 3 above.
. is first imagined as a possibility. during and af ter interventions. (Stenhouse 1975: 4-5)
Stenhouse shif ted the ground a little bit here. a recipe can varied according to taste. but rather the means by which the experience of attempting to put an educational proposal into practice is made available.T his f orm of words echoes those of Lawrence Stenhouse (1975) who produced one of the best-known explorations of a process model of curriculum theory and practice. Principles f or the development of a teaching strategy – how it is to be learned and taught. studying it empirically and considering the grounds of its justif ication. He suggests that a curriculum is rather like a recipe in cookery. in a discussion of the so-called ‘youth work curriculum’ (Newman & Ingram 1989). He was not saying that curriculum is the process. accepted and internalized’ (Newman & Ingram 1989: 1). For example. T he reason why he did this. So can a curriculum. then the subject of experiment. It was essentially as a way of helping them to think about their work bef ore. In empirical study: 1. if curriculum is process then the word curriculum is redundant because process would do very nicely! T he simple equation of curriculum with process is a very slap-happy basis on which to proceed. the f ollowing def inition was taken as a starting point: ‘those processes which enhance or. Principles f or the making of decisions about sequence.
In relation to justification : A f ormulation of the intention or aim of the curriculum which is accessible to critical scrutiny.
The idea is that of an educational science in which each classroom is a laboratory. in this sense. a curriculum is a particular f orm of specif ication about the practice of teaching. it means that any proposal. C. T he product model. where the product model appeals to the workshop f or a model. However. It is not a package of materials or a syllabus of ground to be covered. even at school level. First. T he f ocus is on interactions. Second. Fourth. Stenhouse 1975: 5 T here are a number of contrasts in this model of curriculum theory and practice as compared with the product model. this process model looks to the world of experimentation. and associated with the above. by having a pre-specif ied plan or programme. (Stenhouse 1975: 142)
T hus. the learners in this model are not objects to be acted upon. outcomes are no longer the central and def ining f eature. each teacher a member of the scientific community… The crucial point is that the proposal is not to be regarded as an unqualified recommendation but rather as a provisional specification claiming no more than to be worth putting to the test of practice. pupil contexts. It invites critical testing rather than acceptance’ (Stenhouse 1975: 142). the process model is essentially a critical model. 4. what happens in this model of curriculum theory and practice is that content and means develop as teachers and students work together. and verif ied by each teacher in his/her classroom (ibid: 143). a number of possible problems do arise. T his can mean that attention shif ts f rom teaching to learning. T his approach to the theory of curriculum. Rather than tightly specif ying behavioural objectives and methods in advance. T hey have a clear voice in the way that the sessions evolve. T he f irst is a problem f or those who want some greater degree of unif ormity in what is taught. For example. T his is because this way of thinking emphasizes interpretation and meaning-making. environments and peer-group situations. tends to direct attention to teaching. not a marking model. tends towards making the process of learning the central concern of the teacher. when we come to think about this way of approaching curriculum in practice. ‘It is a way of translating any educational idea into a hypothesis testable in practice. Such proposals claim to be intelligent rather than correct. given the uniqueness of each classroom setting. can lead to very dif f erent means being employed in classrooms and a high degree of variety in content. As we have seen each classroom and each exchange is dif f erent and has to be made sense of . 3. because it places meaning-making and thinking at its core and treats learners as subjects rather than objects. it is argued by writers like Grundy (1987). Inf ormation about the variability of ef f ects in dif f ering contexts and on dif f erent pupils and an understanding of the causes of the variation.
. T hird. needs to be tested. As Stenhouse comments. Principles on which to study and evaluate the progress of teachers.2. Guidance as to the f easibility of implementing the curriculum in varying school contexts. It is not like a curriculum package which is designed to be delivered almost anywhere. how can this inf ormation be got over? A process approach to curriculum theory and practice.
be used in such a way that does not make continual ref erence to collective human well-being and to the emancipation of the human spirit. they are deemed to have completed the process. T hus action is not simply inf ormed. students and teachers together to confront the real problems of their existence and relationships… When students confront the real problems of their existence they will soon also be faced with their own oppression. the processes have become the product. (Stenhouse 1975: 95)
To some extent variation is limited by f actors such as public examinations. Whether or not students are able to apply the skills to make sense of the world around them is somehow overlooked (Grundy 1987: 77). (Grundy 1987: 105)
. When students are able to demonstrate certain skills.
Curriculum as praxis
Curriculum as praxis is. If the teacher is not up to this. It may. T he praxis model of curriculum theory and practice brings these to the centre of the process and makes an explicit commitment to emancipation. and return to Aristotle and to Freire. T he major weakness and. f or example in science. then there will be severe limitations on what can happen educationally. T hird. there is the ‘problem’ of teachers. indeed encourages. Fourth.
Critical pedagogy goes beyond situating the learning experience within the experience of the learner: it is a process which takes the experiences of both the learner and the teacher and. the actions have become the ends. T here have been some attempts to overcome this problem by developing materials and curriculum packages which f ocus more closely on the ‘process of discovery’ or ‘problem-solving’. but it does mean that the examinations must be taken in their stride as they pursue other aspirations. In particular. f or example. through dialogue and negotiation. It is praxis. This does not mean that students taught on the process model cannot be examined. It is hence rather difficult to get the weak student through an examination using a process model. And if the examination is a by-product there is an implication that the quality the student shows in it must be an underestimate of his real quality. we need to look back at our process model of curriculum theory and practice and what we have subsequently discussed. As Grundy comments. But there is a danger in this approach. in many respects. since it depends upon a commitment to educational aims. strength of the process model is that it rests upon the quality of teachers. indeed. T he exchange between students and teachers does not f loat f ree of the context in which it arises.It can never be directed towards an examination as an objective without loss of quality. how to light a bunsen burner. recognizes them both as problematic… [It] allows. T his highlights a second problem with the model we have just outlined – that it may not pay enough attention to the context in which learning takes place (more of this later). T he approach is dependent upon the cultivation of wisdom and meaningmaking in the classroom. And it is to that we will now turn. While the process model is driven by general principles and places an emphasis on judgment and meaning making. it does not make explicit statements about the interests it serves. a development of the process model. If they are not up to much then there is no saf ety net in the f orm of prescribed curriculum materials. it is also committed. At the end of the day many students and their f amilies place a high premium on exam or subject success and this inevitably enters into the classroom. T he model we have looked at here does not f ully ref lect the process explored earlier. since the standards of the examination then override the standards immanent in the subject. it does not make explicit the commitments associated with phronesis. Crammers cannot use it. Processes become reduced to sets of skills – f or example.
Curriculum as praxis
Teachers enter particular schooling and situations with a personal. people in the situation out of which may come inf ormed and committed action. T hey would be able to say how their actions with respect to particular interventions ref lected their ideas about what makes f or the good. One criticism that has been made of the praxis model (especially as it is set out by Grundy) is that it does not place a strong enough emphasis upon context. f or example. we could be looking to see whether the direction of the work took people beyond a f ocus on individual attitudes. in sessions which seek to explore the experiences of dif f erent cultural and racial groups in society. In this respect the work of Catherine Cornbleth (1990) is of some use. but rather is constituted through an active process in which planning. T his is a criticism that can also be laid at the door of the other approaches. we could expect practitioners committed to praxis to be exploring their practice with their peers. Curriculum f or her is what actually happens in classrooms. At its centre is praxis: inf ormed.
Curriculum in cont ext
To round of f this discussion of curriculum we do need to pay f urther attention to the social context in which it is created. She sees curriculum as a particular type of process. -in-action an understanding of their role and the expectations others have of them. Are participants conf ronting the material conditions through which those attitudes are constituted. In this approach the curriculum itself develops through the dynamic interaction of action and ref lection. ‘T hat is. Are they.We can amend our ‘curriculum as process’ model to take account of these concerns. T hird. we could be looking f or a commitment expressed in action to the exploration of educators’ values and their practice. I think we should be looking f or practice which does not f ocus exclusively on individuals. teachers. T hey continually evaluate the process and what they can see of outcomes. How might we recognize this? First. and with. but pays caref ul attention to collective understandings and practices and to structural questions. able to say in a coherent way what they think makes f or human well-being and link this with their practice? We could also be looking f or certain values – especially an emphasis on human emancipation. and to say what theories were involved. that is. an ability to think critically. f or example? Second. ‘an ongoing social process comprised of the interactions of students. the curriculum is not simply a set of plans to be implemented. acting and evaluating are all reciprocally related and integrated into the process’ (Grundy 1987: 115). they encourage conversations between. but shared idea of the good and a commitment to human emancipation. and a proposal f or action which sets out essential principles and f eatures of the educational encounter. Guided by these. knowledge and milieu’ (1990:
. committed action.
Stenhouse def ines curriculum as the attempt to describe what happens in classrooms rather than what actually occurs. the notion of hidden curriculum becomes rather redundant. A f airly standard (product) def inition of the ‘hidden curriculum’ is given by Vic Kelly. Jackson (1968) but it had been present as an acknowledged element in education f or some time bef ore.5). In contrast. 1999) have argued that the notion of curriculum provides a central dividing line between f ormal and inf ormal education. and it is to this area which we will now turn. ’In so f ar as they enable students to develop socially valued knowledge and skills… or to f orm their own peer groups and subcultures. T his was a term credited to Philip W. and on streaming are sometimes seen as preparing young people f or the world of capitalist production. Curriculum is contextually shaped. T hus. T hird. f or example. T hese elements are what are sometimes known as the hidden curriculum.
At any one time. For example. they may contribute to personal and collective autonomy and to possible critique and challenge of existing norms and institutions’ (Cornbleth 1990: 50). Cornbleth f urther contends that curriculum as practice cannot be understood adequately or changed substantially without attention to its setting or context. T he emphasis on regimentation. He argues it is those things which students learn. by paying attention to milieu. T hey contend that curriculum theory and practice was f ormed within the schooling context and that there are major problems when it is introduced into inf ormal f orms of pedagogy. in advance (and even during the process). the
. of the activities and topics that will be involved in a particular piece of work. the organization of classes. by introducing the notion of milieu into the discussion of curriculum she again draws attention to the impact of some f actors that we have already noted. While I may quibble about the simple equation of curriculum with process. What we do need to recognize is that such ‘hidden’ learning is not all negative and can be potentially liberating. T hese centre around the extent to which it is possible to have a clear idea. T he adoption of curriculum theory and practice by some inf ormal educators appears to have arisen f rom a desire to be clear about content. T he learning associated with the ‘hidden curriculum’ is most of ten treated in a negative way. outcomes may not be marked by a high degree of specificity. Of especial signif icance here are examinations and the social relationships of the school – the nature of the teacher-student relationship. T hey are mediated by intervening layers of the education system (Cornbleth 1990: 7). It is learning that is smuggled in and serves the interests of the status quo. First. economic and gender relations. on bells and time management. what Cornbleth does by f ocusing on the interaction is to bring out the signif icance of context. we can begin to get a better grasp of the impact of structural and sociocultural process on teachers and students. What we also need to recognize is that by treating curriculum as a contextualized social process. As Cornbleth argues.
Curriculum as t he boundary bet ween f ormal and inf ormal educat ion
Jef f s and Smith (1990. In a similar way. ‘because of the way in which the work of the school is planned and organized but which are not in themselves overtly included in the planning or even in the consciousness of those responsible f or the school arrangements (1988: 8). If we need to stay in touch with milieu as we build curriculum then it is not hidden but becomes a central part of our processes. John Dewey in Experience and Education ref erred to the ‘collateral learning’ of attitudes that occur in schools. Second. do not simply bypass the systemic or structural context of curriculum and enter directly into classroom practice. if curriculum theory and practice is inextricably linked to milieu then it becomes clear why there have been problems about introducing it into non-schooling contexts like youth work. Yet there are crucial dif f iculties with the notion of curriculum in this context. and that may well be of more long-range importance than the explicit school curriculum (1938: 48). the impact of these f actors may be quite dif f erent to that expected. streaming and so on.
And what is this element we have been discussing? It is nothing more nor less than what Stenhouse considers to be a curriculum! T he other key dif f erence is context. which involve pre-specif ied activities. it is no surprise that when curriculum theory and practice are introduced into what are essentially inf ormal f orms of working such as youth work and community work. Rather. However. lesson and so on. course. T hus. conclude that approaches to the curriculum which focus on objectives and detailed programmes appear to be incompatible with informal education. they are arguing that a product model of curriculum is not compatible with the emphasis on process and praxis within inf ormal education. Curriculum theory and practice only makes sense when considered alongside notions like class. curriculum cannot be taken out of context.
. process and praxis models of curriculum also present problems in the context of inf ormal education. to see this. this element.
We have explored f our dif f erent approaches to curriculum theory and practice:
Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted . Cornbleth and Grundy. T he f act that so many have been misled into believing this demonstrates just how powerf ul the ideas of schooling are. It is not a concept that stands on its own. and Jef f s and Smith (1990.nature of the activities used often cannot be predicted. detached work). What is being suggested here is that when inf ormal educators take on the language of curriculum they are crossing the boundary between their chosen specialism and the domain of f ormal education. Within a school they would be called a course. their main impact is to f ormalize signif icant aspects of the work. It developed in relation to teaching and within particular organizational relationships and expectations. T his they need to do f rom time to time. However. T here will be f ormal interludes in their work. Inf ormal educators do not have. (Jeffs & Smith 1990: 15)
In other words. If you look back at at our models of process and compare them with the model of inf ormal education presented above then it is clear that we can have a similar problem with pre-specif ication. We then need dif f erent ways of describing what is going on. thus. regular meetings and so on. Even if we were to go the whole hog and def ine curriculum as process there remain substantive problems. visiting workers.g. teacher. Within the language of youth work these are most of ten called programmes or projects (Foreman 1990). We must. As Cornbleth (1990). they have an idea of what makes f or human well-being. One of the key f eature that dif f erentiates the two is that the curriculum model has the teacher entering the situation with a proposal f or action which sets out the essential principles and f eatures of the educational encounter. and do not need. T hey do not enter with a clear proposal f or action. But we should not f all into the trap of thinking that to be educators we have to adopt curriculum theory and practice. and an appreciation of their overall role and strategy (strategy here being some idea about target group and broad method e. and the context in which it was f ormed was the school. knowing in advance about broad processes and ethos isn’t the same as having a knowledge of the programme. Stenhouse. T hey then develop their aims and interventions in interaction. One of the main outcome of curriculum experiments within youth work has been work. 1999) have argued. appropriate times f or them to mount courses and to discuss content and method in curriculum terms. It may be that we can say something about how the informal educator will work. You only have to look at the language that has been used by our main proponents: Tyler. Education is something more than schooling. Alter the context and the nature of the process alters . f or example in the f ield of health promotion.
the developmentalists T he natural order of development in the child was most signif icant and scientif ically def ensible basis f or determining what should be taught the social meliorists
Schools as a major. Stanley Hall
Lester Frank Ward
We shouldn’t push the similarities too f ar – but there are some interesting overlaps – and this does alert us both to the changing understanding and to shif ting policy orientations over time. Curriculum as process. with the aim of raising a new generation equipped to deal ef f ectively with these abuses. and the social meliorists (those that sought more radical social change) (af ter Kliebart 1987).
Sought a curriculum in harmony with the child’s ‘real’ interests. inequalities of race and gender. the developmental/person-centred. perhaps the. Education that prepares f or lif e is one that prepares def initely and adequately f or these specif ic activities. Tyler
In a number of respects these dif f erent bodies of curriculum theory and practice link to the f our main f orces in North American curriculum-making in the twentieth century: the liberal educators.
. principal f orce f or social change and social justice
Systematic development of reasoning power and the communication of ‘the canon’. Curriculum as praxis. the scientif ic curriculum makers. the liberal educators Orientation Guardians of an ancient tradition tied to the power of reason and the f inest elements of the Western cultural heritage the scientific curriculum makers Human lif e consists in the perf ormance of specif ic activities. and the abuse of privilege and power should be addressed directly.
Inf luenced by the rise of scientif ic management and notions of social ef f iciency. needs and learning patterns
Corruption and vice. Focus on setting objectives (the statement of changes to take place in the students) and the organization of schooling to meet these.Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product. Taylor
Franklin Bobbitt and Ralph W.
S. Argues that adult educators must have a sound understanding of program design. 248 pages. (1987) Curriculum: Product or Praxis. child centredness. Reviews dif f erent models of curriculum theory and practice (largely US) and assesses some specif ic areas of practice such as continuing prof essional education and literacy education. From pedagogy to andragogy 2e. Kliebard. M. Langenbach. leaders and teachers. For the moment we are having to operate within a policy environment that prizes the productive and technical. Extensive appendices provide various exhibits and additional models. Gelpi etc. Pretty much the standard US work on practical program design in the 1970s and 1980s. H. (1988) Curriculum Models in Adult Education . S. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. the discourse has become so totalizing that f orms of education that do not have a curricula basis are squeezed. A practical guide for educators. Malibar: Krieger. S. N. Identif ies basic situations (eleven in all) in which programs are planned and discusses their operation. 228 pages. New York: Routledge. Part one explores the emerging role and technology of adult education. (1987) The Struggle for the American Curriculum 1893 – 1958 . 300 + xvii pages. trainers and staff developers.
. Houle. J. Explores the use of curriculum theory and practice in non-school settings. A cracker of a book which charts the development of dif f erent curricula traditions and the political and social context in which they arose. M. (1980) The Modern Practice of Adult Education. C. Grundy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Kleibart’s analysis provides us with some hope – things will change. A guide for administrators. R. C. scientif ic curriculum making (Taylorism) and social meliorism provides a very helpf ul set of insights into the theory and process of curriculum making within adult education. 209 + ix pages. process and praxis. Good discussion of the nature of curriculum theory and practice f rom a critical perspective. Furthermore. Grundy starts f rom Habermas’ theorisation of knowledge and human interest and makes use of Aristotle to develop a models of curriculum around product. 323 pages. Freire. (1994) Planning Programs for Adult Learners. O.: Cambridge/Prentice Hall. Particular attention is paid to Illich. (1972) The Design of Education. there is no guarantee that they will move in a more edif ying direction. 400 pages. T he movement between mental discipline. Caf f arella. New York: Association Press (272 pages) f or an early but still usef ul review of program design and implementation within an NGO (Chicago YMCA). However. Englewood Clif f s.both to the changing understanding and to shif ting policy orientations over time. 218 pages. See also Knowles (1950) Informal Adult Education. T he temptation is always there to either be colonized by curriculum theory or adopt ways of describing practice that do not make sense in terms of the processes and commitments involved. Knowles. Part two organizing and administering comprehensive programs of adult education. Inf luential statement of theory and practice with regard to a f undamental structure f or program design. Clearly written with plenty of worksheets etc. (1987) Curriculum Theory in Adult and Lifelong Education. Grif f in.
Furt her reading and ref erences
I have picked out some books that have the greatest utility f or those concerned with inf ormal education and lif elong learning. M. Lewes: Falmer. London: Croom Helm. Just what the title says – but has the advantage of many manuals in this area in that the underlying model is dynamic and interactive and avoids some of the problems with linear planning models. Based around Knowles’ assumptions concerning the way adults learn with some leanings to behaviouralism. He unpicks suspect notions such as ‘progressive education’ and demonstrates how Dewey in particular is positioned outside the main competing traditions. and Part three ref lects on helping adults learn.
Jackson. and Flinders. a belief that (children’s) learning must be inspired by several inf luences. London: Heinemann. Barrow. R. Tyler. Greene. T. London: Routledge. Dewey. Eisner. evaluation. & Kemmis. and lastly that it is essential to see the curriculum as much more than a mere collection of subjects and syllabuses.
. (eds.. Counts. Put aside the naf f tittle – this book provides an accessible model of cur riculum building that attempts to incorporate a ‘vision of the f uture’. a research model of curriculum development. et al (1992) Change and the Curriculu. (2000) Curriculum: Construction and critique. Helpf ul overview of the history of curriculum development in Britain Stenhouse. 187 + xiii pages. Wragg. Classic statement of a process approach to the theory and practice of curriculum making. F. Basingstoke: Falmer Press. Education. the school as an institution. Curzon. (1902) The Child and the Curriculum . a recognition that there are escalating demands on citizens. (1990) Curriculum in Context. A. (1986) Becoming Critical. Kliebard. T he process is clear f rom the chapter titles: what educational purposes should the school seek to attain? How can learning experiences be selected which are likely to be usef ul in attaining these objectives? How can learning experiences be organized f or ef f ective instruction? How can the ef f ectiveness of learning experiences be evaluated? How a school or college staf f may work on curriculum building. (1949) Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. Excellent collection of 30 readings that provides both a sample of enduring work and more recent material around curriculum theory and practice. An outline of principles and practice 3e. teaching. Blenkin. Barnes. London: Routledge. T he concern is to provide a model f or practice – so the book is a bit lightweight with regard to competing conceptualizations of curriculum and alternatives to curriculum thinking. knowledge and action research.) (1997) The Curriculum Studies Reader. Boston: Houghton Mif f lin Carr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. London: Falmer Press. Ravitch. G. T hornton. Lieberman and more. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Important discussion of product-oriented curriculum building. Harmondsworth: Penguin. McLaughlin. J. (1975) An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. Chapters explore the nature of the curriculum problem. (1985) Teaching in Further Education. the teacher as researcher. Brighton: Wheatsheaf Books. London: Paul Chapman. Glazer. R. Bobbitt. Schwab. a critique of the objectives model. (1997) The Cubic Curriculum. cross-curricular themes and issues that inf luence children’s general development. (1984) Giving Teaching back to Teachers. Freire. and the school and innovation. J. Dewey. (1918) The Curriculum . A critical introduction to curriculum theory . behavioural objectives and curriculum development. Boston: Houghton Mif f lin Bobbitt. F. the content of education. Wragg’s ‘cubic curriculum’ has three dimensions: subject matter. W. 248 + viii pages. B. 416 pages. Lewes: Falmer Press Cornbleth. Apple. J. and the dif f erent methods of teaching and learning that can be employed. M. D.
Aristotle (1976) The Nicomachean Ethics (‘Ethics’). London: Cassell. W. Includes: Bobbitt. L. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 120 + x pages. (1976) ‘Introduction’ to Aristotle The Nicomachean Ethics (‘Ethics’). the process model. S. C. J. S. 128 pages.Ross. (1928) How to Make a Curriculum . L.
P.) (1990) Using Informal Education.
Knowledge Acknowledgements: Picture: rubber bands by eek the cat. Bryant (1989) Adult Education as Theory.f lickr. R. J. W. and Smith. New York: Macmillan. (1985) The Art of Educational Evaluation . Rinehart & Winston.Dewey. Practice and Research. Eisner. Taba. Kelly. www. 2000
. (1996. Tyler. W. Foreman. K. E. 2000) ‘Curriculum theory and practice’ the encyclopaedia of informal education. & I. Freire. (1990) ‘Personality and curriculum’ in T. Jef f s. & Smith. (1938) Experience and Education. 1999) The Curriculum. V. Lewes: Falmer Press. Jackson. (1983. (1987) Curriculum: product or praxis? Lewes: Falmer Press.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2. J. Theory and practice 4e. Ingram (1989) The Youth Work Curriculum . S. Harmondsworth: Penguin. New York: Holt. An alternative to casework. Also in the archives. The captive triangle. Ticknall: Education Now. Sourced f rom Flickr and reproduced here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2. M. T. London: Further Education Unit (FEU). democracy and learning. (1999) Informal Education.org/biblio/b-curric. & G. teaching and control? Milton Keynes: Open University Press. (1975) An introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. Jef f s. M.com/photos/eek/76924263 How to cite this article : Smith. London: Heineman. Newman.htm. (1962) Curriculum Development: Theory and practice. Jef f s. A. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. H. © Mark K. (1949) Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. W. & M. P. Conversation. Grundy. L. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. E. http://www. teaching and control? Milton Keynes: Open University Press. London: Routledge. M. Smith 1996. An alternative to casework.0) Licence. T. Smith (eds. New York: Harcourt Brace and World. (1968) Life in Classrooms. A.inf ed.) (1990) Using Informal Education. R. (eds. Usher. Stenhouse. K. London: Paul Chapman.