03 SES 16 B JS, Theorizing Education: A dialogue between philosophy, pädagogik/pedagogikk, and curriculum studies
Joint Symposium NW 03 and NW 13
This presentation addresses the question: what does education mean in the context of the American field of curriculum studies? In the USA, we have long observed a narrowing of the sub-disciplines of education, including in Curriculum Studies and teacher education themselves. These have obscured the relationship between teacher and student and arguably limited access to a full picture of the everyday phenomena and purposes of education. In this context, the field of Curriculum Studies, traditionally concerned with the effective selection and organization of learning experiences to meet predefined purposes (Tyler 1949), was radically reconceptualized starting in the 1970s. Curriculum was redefined as Currere, a verb meaning “a race to be run,” rather than as a noun, a finished product or package ripe for delivery or implementation (Pinar 1975). William Pinar’s notion of Currere imagines curriculum as a dynamic relation between the student or learner’s self or subjectivity and the free exploration of subject matter (i.e. “study;” see McClintock 1971). Curriculum Studies, in short, turned to the selfhood and subjectivity of those undergoing education, and sought to rescue these from the instrumentalities implicit in the specialization and managerialism dominant in education since the early 20th century. As the Reconceptualist movement brought attention to the learner subjectivity, however, it created new problems. One of the most obvious of these is its effective reduction of education to the dyad of “learner - subject matter.” Here Reconceptualist Curriculum Studies looked past exchanges between continental scholars in Didaktik and their English-language counterparts in curriculum and instruction (e.g. Westbury, Doyle, Riquarts, Hopmann) which underscored the importance of all three components of the Didaktik triangle: content, student subjectivity and teacher agency. This and other oversights led to the effective subjectification and later, the politiciziation of all educational questions and discourse in Curriculum Studies. Education as an affirmative, relational practice that is always-already fundamentally communal all but disappears. Further, the possibility of a democratic “theory of education as a deliberately conducted practice” (Dewey, 1916) recedes rapidly from view. In order to move forward, we must acknowledge the significance of subjectivity from the Reconceptualist tradition but also move beyond the corresponding reduction of education to concerns of politicized subjective identity. Curriculum Studies, in short, is looking to alternative ways of configuring education and to a return to the roots represented by common understandings of education as an intergenerational encounter, and a shared but “deliberately conducted practice.”
Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Free Press. McClintock, R. (1971). Toward a place for study in a world of instruction. Teachers College Record, 73(2), 161-205. Pinar, W. (1975). Curriculum theorizing: The reconceptualists. In: Pinar, W. (Ed.) Berkeley: Mccutchan Pub. Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago, London: Chicago University Press. Westbury, I., Hopmann, S., & Riquarts, K. (2000). Teaching as a reflective practice: The German didaktik tradition. Mahwah NJ: L. Erlbaum.
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