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Alexis Lipson C&T709: M2T3: Response Paper #3 1

As the 1970s began, so did the era of the reconceptualization of curriculum studies. Within this

reconceptualization, one finds a wide array of ideas two of which are William E. Doll Jr.s Four Rs,

and the concept of foxes and hedgehogs presented by Peter Hlebowitsh. Common to the

discussions presented by these particular theorists is the idea of diversity. Hlebowitsh discusses the

ways that scientifically based teaching, such as that encouraged by the No Child Left Behind Act, has

been criticized by proponents of diversity. The third of Dolls four Rs, relations, discusses the need for

diversity, stating the need to honor the localness of our perceptions and, on the other hand, to realize

that our local perspectives integrate into a larger cultural, ecological, cosmic matrix (Doll 220). This

push for a focus on the individual experience and diversity found within it is what gives me hope that

our public school system will begin to move in the correct direction, if teachers and administrators can

maintain vigilant in their efforts.

Reconceptualization theories have challenged what is seen as traditional classroom practices.

We see this in Dolls four Rs, which are to replace the traditional three Rs of Readin, Ritin and

Rithmetic (Doll 215). Dolls four Rs encourage the same ideals John Dewey and Paulo Freire present in

their own theories: richness, or the curriculums depth, recursion, which is the need for thoughts to loop

back on themselves, allowing students to make meaning out of their studies, relations, or the quality of

the connections students make to the material presented, and rigor, or the ability of a curriculum to

continually challenge a student (216-220). Another great example of a theorist that challenges

traditional classroom practices is that of Paulo Freire, who aimed to empower the oppressed through

literacy programs to raise social and political awareness (New World). The theory Freire presents in

Pedagogy of the Oppressed reframes education around the need to shape the person and society as a

whole, rather than simply fill students up with information. Freire believed that education should not

only inspire reflection on values and ideals but also motivate people to engage in community service

(New World). Freire and John Dewey had similar goals in this regard. As Hlebowitsh points out, Dewey
Alexis Lipson C&T709: M2T3: Response Paper #3 2

believed teaching should not be viewed as simply the means used to fulfill and complete ends (227).

Instead, education should be diverse, encouraging each student to explore their interests. Between

these three theorists, we continue to find the avoidance of a one-size fits all curriculum.

Freire, Dewey, and Doll would see efforts like the No Child Left Behind Act as a hindrance to

progress, no matter the intentions. This act, which attempted to increase accountability through

standardized tests, created a high-stakes atmosphere focused around one-size fits all tests that leave no

room for the type of learning of which Dewey and Freire speak. Instead, students are seen, to use a term

Freire coined, as banks to fill up with information. Rather than encountering the type of rigor that Doll

proposes, students are simply challenged to memorize, rather than being encouraged to continually be

exploring, looking for new combinations, interpretations, patterns (Doll 221). Diversity is placed on the

back burner because failure to improve scores means a loss in funding, which can hinder even the

slightest amount of progress.

From experience in the education field, it is not those in the classroom pushing for this high-

stakes testing. Most programs focused on accountability and evidence-based curriculum come from

those within the state and federal government. Government representatives continue to push one-size

fits all curriculum claiming it will provide the most equality to students of all demographics when in

reality, curriculum based on theories such as Freires and Deweys are those that will truly produce an

equal society. This is not to say all evidence-based and traditional curriculum is useless. Hlebowitsh

states the obvious when he notes that there is a normative agenda of the curriculum. He uses the

example of reading teachers do not have the right to not teach children how to read (227-228).

Teachers do, however, have the right and need to exercise the right to adjust the manner in which they

transfer this skill to the child, especially in cases of special needs students. They should be able to do so

without the threat of lost funding or job.


Alexis Lipson C&T709: M2T3: Response Paper #3 3

As Monreal notes, the most difficult part of the curriculum changes Freire and Dewey propose is

not agreeing that it would work well but instead maintaining the courage to push for these radical ideas

and resist the much easier cookie-cutter style into which they are pushed. The most promising schools

are those with leaders that encourage teachers to collaborate and experiment in the classroom, which

in turn encourages students to do the same. Teams that work together across the board, from the

school board to the administration to teachers assistants are teams that best serve students these are

the teams that show the most promise. The main challenge hindering progress in this aspect is changing

systemic norms as well as legislative requirements.

Once we change the norm of threatening schools with budget cuts and job loss to one of

encouragement and enrichment, teachers will find themselves less shackled to traditional curriculum.

Until then, it is up to those brave teachers and administrators to push the barrier and break through

walls hindering a truly equal education for all.


Alexis Lipson C&T709: M2T3: Response Paper #3 4

References

Dewey, J. (2013). My Pedagogic Creed. In The Curriculum Studies Reader (4th ed., pp. 31-43). New York,

NY: Routledge.

Doll, W. E., Jr. (2013). The Four R's - An Alternative to the Tyler Rationale. In The Curriculum Studies

Reader (4th ed., pp. 215-222). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hlebowitsh, P. (2013). Centripetal Thinking in Curriculum Studies. In The Curriculum Studies Reader (4th

ed., pp. 223-234). New York, NY: Routledge.

Monreal, T. (2016, March 07). The Reconceptualization of Curriculum Studies My Grad School Work

Medium. Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://medium.com/my-grad-school-work/the-

reconceptualization-of-curriculum-studies-243731ee940a

Paulo Freire. (2013, November 16). Retrieved October 1, 2017, from

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Paulo_Freire

William, P. F. (1978). The Reconceptualisation of Curriculum Studies,. Journal of Curriculum Studies,

10(3), 205-214. Retrieved October 1, 2017, fromhttp://daneshnamehicsa.ir/userfiles/file/

Resources/82%29%20Ideologies/ARTICLE_William%20Pinar.pdf