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Amber Gilbert

C&T 709: Foundations of Curriculum & Instruction


Response Paper

The most promising vision that I see for curriculum studies in the new era, is what

William Doll suggests as a new direction for understanding curriculum. He lists four main goals

to build curriculum upon. These four goals are richness, recursion, relations, and rigor. Doll

suggests a non-linear formation to the analysis of curriculum. This allows educators to frame

evaluations around the learners reflection and transformation of the material covered and not

just the facts given in the lesson plan. This is an idea that I believe needs to be further explored.

Too often we set objectives and evaluations based upon a specific idea or fact that we give the

student. We are simply asking them to repeat, with expertise, what we as educators have been

told to teach them. Asking them to reflect upon the material presented to them gives us more

insight to how the learner has perceived the materials that have been presented to them.

Looking at Dolls four main goals helps to understand what he is describing. Richness

describes a curriculum that has depth and layers of meaning. It has multiple possibilities or

interpretations. Another way to state this is to say that the problematics, perturbations,

possibilities inherent in a curriculum are what give the curriculum not only its richness but also

its sense of being, its dasein Doll (p216). Lessons with this idea in mind will open up

conversations in the classroom that will allow for further insight into the material being

presented, as well as multiple ways to evaluate the learner on the materials presented.

Recursion is the complex structures that support critical reflection. This is also the way

one produces a sense of self, through reflective interaction with the environment, with others,

with a culture. Doll then states, such recursive reflection lies at the heart of a

transformative curriculum. (p 217) Being able to relate material to a learners personal

experience or culture, is a key to helping them to not only understand the material being
Amber Gilbert
C&T 709: Foundations of Curriculum & Instruction
Response Paper

presented, but to remember it. If the learner can make these important connections, they will

be able to fit the material being presented into their day to day experiences. This allows

educators to help the learner understand their environment better and contribute new ideas

within their communities.

Relations refers to the intersecting of curriculum and cultures. Doll states that relations

is important in a pedagogical way as well as a cultural way. The textbook, throughout all this, is

seen as something to revise, not as something to follow. It is the base from which

transformation occurs. Curriculum in a post-modern frame needs to be created (self-organized)

by the classroom community, not by textbook authors Doll (p 219). Doll mentions that as

educators it is our job to help the learner navigate their way between what is being taught, and

how the learner perceives what is being taught. If we are unaware of the student perspective of

the information being presented, the student cannot be fairly evaluated on this knowledge.

This brings us to Dolls last goal of Rigor, which invites a continual exploration of what is

being taught. Doll calls this goal the most important of the four goals. rigor keeps a

transformative curriculum from falling into either rampant relativism or sentimental

solipsism (p 220). When I think of rigor, I automatically think of the scientific method. Asking

students to continually evaluate themselves and what they are learning. To create new

experiments and understandings not only of how the world works around them, but how they

fit into that world. This teaches the learner to be inquisitive and not just take what is being

presented to them as fact. Rigor should open up the learners curiosity.

Taking these four goals into account should not only inspire new ways to teach and

learn material, but also new ways to evaluate the material being presented. If educators can
Amber Gilbert
C&T 709: Foundations of Curriculum & Instruction
Response Paper

find new ways to evaluate material accurately, the days of standardized testing will just be

something future educators read about in a text. Maybe the new era in curriculum

development is already here.