Curriculum Theory / EDUC-910 Week 2 Readings

The nature of curriculum theory—give me a “for instance”

Kliebard, H., Hawkins, T., Diamonti, M., Tyler, R., Franklin, B., & Bauer, N. (1977). [Curriculum theory: Give me a “for instance”]: Discussion. Curriculum inquiry, 6(4), 277–282.

Why does curriculum have to be an applied field of philosophy? Agreed. Parent v. foundation. Foundation grows to become a parent? Hawkins & Diamonti: Curriculum is purely applied theory?

Tyler: Seeking a theory to guide the curriculum designer. How do we decide what is to be taught? Time is a constraining factor…

How do we answer any what is to be done question? Surely we must identify what it is we wish to achieve before we decide how to achieve it?

Do we want engineers that can make aeroplanes fly? Then we have to teach what we know about making aeroplanes fly. Once we have taught them the basics, they can work on how to make aeroplanes fly more efficiently.

If we don’t want an engineer, why would we teach advanced details? There comes a point in a modern society when basic knowledge of functionality and critical thinking advances beyond what is required of a functioning member of society that does not happen to be an engineer. At what point is this line drawn? At the arbitrary line of the functioning citizen.

Tyler: We test notions out; these become useful; and, hopefully, we attain order and a way of looking at the next problem that comes along. (p. 278)

In the sense of curriculum theory = notion. There’s nothing scientific here, until you start testing and rejecting in a controlled manner.

Edward Thorndike

Edward Thorndike

Kliebard (ref. Thorndike): What most people would use is what should be taught. Let’s take the teaching of reading. We all know the Thorndike word list as the basis of so many readers. These are organized in terms of word use. What gets taught first is the word most used, what gets taught next is the next most used word, and so on down the line. (p. 280)

Teach what is required by society first. And why not? We have to draw an arbitrary line, this seems as good as any other, and better than many.

Progressive organization of subject matter provides that direction.


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