Curriculum as a Product: Limitations and Benefits
Curriculum as a theory is always changing and evolving within our school systems. The schools of today share many differences, and some similarities, to those from the generations before. While the mostly include updates on subjects as time goes by, society is also changing its opinions on how the foundations of learning should be enacted. Theories of curriculum have evolved, and are still evolving today as we figure out the best way to teach and learn.
When I was in school, particularly my elementary years, there was a more of a traditional approach to curriculum as a product. This theology of curriculum was popularized by Ralph W. Tyler during the late 1980s, who believed in the “scientific management” of schools. Tyler was a major fan of thinking of schooling as a scientific model, in which educators would follow steps to ensure students were prepared for life after education. This system has considerable organizing power, as the learning is measured and the outcomes are clearly noted. Examples of this theory of curriculum that my elementary school showed would include mandatory sewing, home ec, welding, and woodshop classes for the grade eight students. The necessity of teaching these life skills follow the more traditional aspects of curriculum as a product.
One of the main limitations of Tyler’s curriculum theory, is the very notion of the “product”. Teaching is not as simple as following a direct step-to-step schedule, it is a fluid process. Although the scientific method looks great in theory, often life experience and situations can be unpredictable and hard to measure. This model is not focused on the student as a learner, and in this way their voices can often be patronized. When students are told what to do and how to do it, it takes away their autonomy, leaving them vulnerable and voiceless. Too much is put on the teachers as educators and this can lead to them being attacked and criticized.
Of course, the method of curriculum as a process is not all negative. Different methods work with different people, and there are some students who would majorly benefit from this model. Some students crave structure, where the outcomes and goals are clearly stated and outlined. Although this method of curriculum does have its downsides there is a reason why it has been used so commonly in North American schools. The scientific method is meant to make proper citizens and proper workers who obey authority and focus on what they know. This makes a stable society, even if it does not make a flourishing one.
17 January 2019