Archive for the ‘Curriculum & Instruction’ category

Pathways Toward An Approach to Learning – A Synopsis

August 15, 2011

Pathways Toward An Approach to Learning

 A Synopsis

Lawrence P. Creedon

This paper is a synopsis of a longer paper. The intent here is to provide a synopsis of the longer paper.

 

Akin to relying on Cliff Notes this synopsis will not fulfill your personal need for professional development. This is a synopsis and not a full treatment. However, it will provide you with the gist of things contained in the longer Pathways paper and with issues that ought to be of concern in your own professional development.  In the process of coming to know using a constructivist approach it is important for you to understand where any particular strategy, method or tactic found along the pathway fits into the whole.

 

There is an Irish saying that refers to making several points in a single conversation and raising many related topics along the way as: Stopping at every hole in the hedge.  Drink in the imagery of that as it relates not only to Ireland but to any culture where people get together for extended conversation on a wide range of topics. In doing so they engage in “defensible partiality” [Theodore Brameld] and each has a platform of views.  Sections One and Two of Pathways focus on defensible partiality and a platform, but does so in a broad organizational and societal context.  The longer Pathways stops at many holes in the hedge. Pathways is divided into three sections:

 

1. A personal position identified as Defensible Partiality,

2. A Platform for Education,

3. An action program for classroom teacher based action research using a collaborative approach to shared decision making. This is where we will focus our attention.

 

Section One: Defensible Partiality: It is important for educators to have a point of view as to who they are as educators and why they do what they do behind the classroom door. Having an opinion, even one rooted in experience, is not enough. Educators need to know why they are doing what they are doing. What are the defensible theoretical constructs behind every day practice?

 

Those who came before us as well as theoreticians who contribute today not only have left behind, but also, are producing today a plethora of meritorious and defensible theory. Not only do we need to be conversant with past and present contributions, but also, we need to value and internalize those components appropriate for our practice. We need to be partial, but defensively so. This first section gets into that.

 

Section Two: A Platform for Education.  A platform stipulates what you can expect. The term platform is used frequently in political circles. A platform identifies what a organization stands for. It stipulates what its program will be and how proponents can be held accountable for what is or is not done. Framingham instructor Dr. Gene Thayer considers a platform for education in the course: Leadership, Supervision and Staff Development. 

 

A platform for education has many planks. Each plank focuses on a particular aspect of the total platform. It expresses intent. It is not constructed to satisfy the requirements imposed by outside sources. It is best generated internally by those who must implement whatever the platform and its planks come to be.

 

The process of education needs to be rooted in a platform for learning. Those identified and addressed at some length in Pathways include:

 

1.  Building a moral community based on social virtues

2.  Four foundation questions upon which the entire platform rests

3.  A set of personal axioms (belief statements, or truth signs) about learning

4.  A comprehensive student centered design for learning

5.  An identifiable, defensible, consistent approach to school governance

6.  A procedure for involving those are affected by a decision in the decision making process

7.  A procedure for effective communication

8.  Recognizing and dealing with myth versus logic in the process of education

9.  A commitment to total quality management

 

A major portion of Pathways deals with these nine planks. Each plank is further sub divided into more specific areas. The planks are:

 

Plank One

1. The importance of trust, competence, collaboration and collegiality.

2. The importance of culture

3. The importance of defensible learning theory

 

Plank Two

When it is all said and done it is possible to state the purpose of education as four questions:

1. What do you know about how learners come to know and do you practice consistent with what you know?

2. Of all the things learners can come to know what do they need to know now and why?

3. Having insights into questions one and two how are you and your school organized to facilitate what ought to be done?

4. What methods and tactics do you and are utilized in your school utilize in order to implement what you have organized?

 

In this plank consideration will be given to contributions made by past and present learning theorists such as Herbart, Piaget, Maslow, Tyler, Bloom and Krathwhol, Bigge, Skinner, Gardner, Goleman, Vygotsky and others.

 

Plank Three

Every teacher has basic assumptions about learning. And every educator ought to have a set of personal beliefs, axioms or truth signs that guide his or her practice. These indicate who you are as an educator, what you believe and thus why you behave professionally as you do. Those shared in Pathways are my personal set of beliefs. Also I have included a few sets developed by former students. You will be encouraged to reflect on your beliefs about learning and develop your set of guiding principles.  In some places assumptions about learning and personal axioms are considered as synonymous with a platform for education. I differentiate between the three.  My assumptions and axioms about learning are:

 

Basic Assumptions about Learning

1.   All persons are able to learn and are aware that they do know

2.   Learning is more than a random process

3.   Human beings have held a variety of views and opinions relative to mind and matter

4.   All learning begins in doubt, however, equilibrium is sought

5.   The dualistic notion of mind and body can not be supported

6.    Learning begins when doubt occurs and takes place as the result of the simultaneous and interaction of the learner and the environment

March 1975; Modified 2002

Axioms to Guide a Career in Education

1. Among the purposes of the public school is the transmission to the young the ideals upon which the United States was founded;

therefore,

the school ought to be a microcosm of a democratic society.

2.  Participatory decision making characterizes a democratic society;

therefore,

those who are to be affected by a decision ought to be involved in the process of making, implementing and being held accountable for decisions made.

3.  Learning is more than a random process;

therefore,

how human beings come to know ought to be the most basic question of inquiry challenging educators.

 

4.  Schools are for learners;

therefore,

the curriculum and instructional program ought to be student centered and responsive

5.   Educators have an obligation to assist all students in becoming self fulfilling individuals, good citizens and competent workers in a world that is maximally effective for all;

therefore,

within the limits of individual potential and capacity, opportunities must be provided for each person to realize these goals

 

6.  Knowledge is conceptually based,

has structure and is constructed by and by each learner;

therefore,

in the curriculum the concepts ought to be identified and the instructional program so ordered in constructivist design so as to provide for an interactive process through which each learner in orderly, developmental, and constructivist  fashion can learn that which is desired, needs to be known and can be learned. (Modified 2002)

7. Educators serve the public interest and are not in private practice at public expense;

therefore,

a total quality management system needs to be designed and implemented that provides for such areas as professional development and competence, curriculum and pedagogical relevance, fiscal responsibility, business acumen, and facility maintenance. (Modified 2002)

 

August 1979, Modified 2002

Plank Four

Every school system ought to function in response to a locally developed comprehensive Design for Learning. A ten component design will be shared.

 

1.   Purpose, goals and mission of the institution

2.   Behavioral projections citing long term cognitive, affective and psychomotor                    expectations

3.   Rationale for each discipline and program included in the curriculum

4.   The structure of knowledge concepts underlying each discipline or program

5.   Instructional objectives

6.   Diagnostic and evaluative tools and procedures

7.   Constructivist compatible student learning activities: methods and tactics

8.   Appropriate utilization of multi media and electronic aids to learning

9.   A system for Total Quality Management

10. A self learning, self actualizing learning environment.

1974; Modified 2002

Plank Five

Governance is critically important. Among its characteristics are words (intent) and action (extension) as well as myth and reality. Several approaches to governance are considered in Pathways. Governors range from the all but totally autocratic to those who have a vision rooted indefensible partiality and have developed and implemented in collaboration with colleagues strategies for shared decision making. Definitions of leadership abound, however, in Pathways Governors are classified into four categories:

 

1.  ABC: Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Command, Control and Comply

2.  Compliance Administrators

3.  Transactional Managers

4.  Transformational Leaders

 

Plank Six

A procedure, including teacher determined and originated classroom based action research.  A hallmark of the procedure is that those who are to be affected by a decision are involved in the process of making, implementing and being held accountable for decisions made. This approach honors collaboration. It seeks consensus. Consensus is not synonymous with majority rule.

 

A reality in taking action on decisions made is that those decisions that are most likely to be implemented by practitioners stem from those where practitioners have been collaboratively involved in the decision making process.

 

To be held accountable does not imply a punitive response if something does not proceed or succeed as intended. Rather, it means that those who have been involved in the decision making process remain voluntarily involved until the issue is resolved. The procedure developed ought to be applicable for all grades, levels, and disciplines including specialized programs.

 

The procedure being recommended in Pathways is addressed in detail in Section Three. Here a simple listing of the steps of the process will be cited.

 

1.    Establish a Task Team (A Team is more than a Group)

2.    Issue Identification.[1]

3,     Divergent Thinking

4.     A positive focus

5.     Clarify-Consolidate-Restate

6.     Prioritize

7.     Refer out

8.     A Systems Approach to Planning Strategies, Methods, and Tactics.

9.     A Plan of Action including Assessment

10    Open-System Closure

 

Plank Seven

Communication has been defined Aas the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another.@ (Lunenburg, The Principalship: Concepts and Applications, 1995). However, information is not synonymous with knowledge and common understanding does not imply concurrence or agreement. Information as understood in Pathways is low order cognitive. It does not connote comprehension, application, valuing or internalization as understood by Bloom and Krathwohl. Effective communication is more than the process of transmitting information. The elements in the communication process determine the quality of communication.

 

Several questions proposed by Lunenburg will be considered in this plank. They are

1.    What is communication?

2.    How does the communication process operate?

3.    How does communication flow in a school organization?

4.   What are communication networks and how do they operate?

5.   What are the barriers to effective communication in schools?

6.   How can principals (and others) overcome communication barriers?

7.   What role does feedback play?

8.   What role is played by nonverbal communication?

 

Plank Eight

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a systemic approach to conceptualizing, understanding, developing, managing, and assessing a school or a school system. TQM recognizes that if one component of the enterprise is affected, the impact will be felt within the whole. TQM is a management system. In reality few schools or school districts operate consistent with TQM.

 

School Based Management (SBM) and (SDM) are not the same; however, each can be used as a subset of TQM. The approach to TQM shared here is that developed by W. Edwards Deming. The fourteen points of Deming=s program are@

1.   Constancy of Purpose

2.    A New Philosophy

3.    The End to the Dependence on Inspection in Determining Quality

4.    End  the Procedure of  Choosing the Lowest Bidder or Doing Things AOn the Cheap.@

5.    Continuous Improvement as a Constant

6.    In Service Development Through on the Job Training

7.    Transformational Leadership

8.    Drive out Fear From the Workplace for all Involved in the Enterprise

9.    Breakdown Internal Barriers that Inhibit Continuous Progress

10.  Put an End to the Use of Slogans, Exhortations and Targets

11.  Put an End to Numerical Quotas and Management by Objectives (MBO)

12.  Remove Barriers to Pride in Work

13.  Put an End to Annual Evaluations and Such things as the Merit System

14.  Institute Education Programs to Assure Continuous Improvement

 

Plank Nine

Myth and logic are most frequently at odds with one another. Myth is a common phenomenon.  Myths about the past are held and believed by and about individuals, groups, institutions, societies and cultures. Frequently myth is culturally driven. Many times logic and scientific inquiry defy myth. However, myth will continue to drive and sustain the enterprise. A reliance on myth can deter growth and continuous improvement. Myths can hinder collaborative efforts for continuous improvement.  Educators, other stakeholders and the general public harbor myths about what education ought to be. Students deal in the reality of what education is.

 

Section Three: 

 

Section Three lays out in detail a program for involving those affected by a decision in the decision making process including making, implementing and being held accountable for decisions made. Section Three lays out the guidelines for conducting educator initiated action research. The steps to be followed in embarking on the process are referenced in Plank Six. The Process is stipulated in the Creedon monograph: A Constructivist Approach to Brainstorming and Action Research – A Group Dynamics Approach to Shared Decision Making.

 

A Final Caution

 

Taken together the three sections of Pathways form a whole. Section One directs attention to the contributions made earlier by recognized scholars and authorities. A mark of the professional is that he/she is conversant with the contribution of those who came before and understands how their scholarship contributes to the present Section Two lays out a platform for guiding action in the present. Section Three provides a process for educator initiated action research. those contributions effect the present. scholarship is to be conversant with the

 

Personal professional growth requires that practitioners engage in career long study, reflection and development in all areas implied in Sections One and Two.  To do less is to be At Play in Little Games. Students are too young and too much in need to be used as pawns in the game. John Dewey said it this way: What the best and wisest parents for their children that must the community want for all its children. Any other idea is unloving. It destroys our democracy.

 

A closing thought:

The pathway to wisdom is plain and simple to express

To err and err and err again

But less, and less and less

Piet Hein

Ipse dixit

Lawrence P. Creedon

Framingham International Education Program

at Framingham State University, MA, USA.

San Roberto Institute, Monterrey, Mexico, April 24, 2002

 


[1] Depending upon how the effort begins steps one and  two may be considered in reverse order.

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Lesson Plans – What They are and What They Ought To Be

August 15, 2011

Lesson Plans  

What They are and What They Ought To Be

Purpose – Characterization – Approaches

Lawrence P. Creedon

Helen L. Ross

 

There are four types of planning in which individuals and organizations engage, and they are:

1.  Quality

2.  Strategic

3.  Tactical

4.  Compliance

 

Lesson Planning ought to include all four types.  Quality planning considers why a specific effort is being undertaken.  It indicates purpose, mission and goals.  Strategic planning considers approaches and methods.  Tactical planning includes techniques.  Compliance planning is self-explanatory and it addresses mandates imposed by external authority. In each of these four categories the primary focus can be either on the content of the lesson or what is known about how the learner comes to know and needs to know. For the most part the emphasis is and has been on the content of the lesson rather than the learning profile or needs of the learner. However, while the lesson plan focuses on the content in a “one-size-fits all” approach the promotional literature and messages promulgated by the school profess to be committed and responsive to the needs of individual learners. The reality of most lesson plans expose that as a fiction.

 

In support of this assertion visit Hotchalk: Lesson Plans Page at  http://www.lessonplanspage.com/. There you will find a “10 Steep Lesson Plan Guide” which clearly places content and not learner needs and style at the center of the process.

 

Lesson Plans are usually tactical and focus on day-to-day, subject-by-subject, and hour-by-hour planning.  Unit plans or a syllabus are distinct from lesson plans and are more strategic.  Unit plans are of a more comprehensive range and focus on a concept or a theme. Lesson plans are tactical more precise applications of a unit plan. Lesson plans ought to flow from unit plans.

 

Among the characteristics of lesson plans as they are today is that:

1.  Lesson Plans are specific and focus on a whole class approach to a specific objective.                                                  They are neither w holistic or systemic

2.  Lesson Plans usually adhere to a five [Herbart] or seven [Hunter] step process focused on the content of the lesson and a “logical” progression through the five or seven steps. They are seldom focused on the learning needs or style of individual learners.

3. Lesson Plans are teacher, content or activity centered rather learner need and style centered.

4. Lesson plans are structured in such a way to promote of a structured, sequential delivery

of skill or pre determined content rather than individual skill mastery or content

understanding, application or evaluation.

 

 

Among the characteristics of what lesson plans ought to be are:

  1. Lesson planning needs to begin in response to IEP’s – Individual Education Plans – for very learner.
  2. Lesson planning begins with a Reflective Component focusing on where each learner is in the process of coming to know what has been determined as needing to be known. Reflection comes before unexamined attempted forward action.
  3.  Lesson planning cannot be considered as a “one-size-fits-all” activity. The purpose of instruction is not to plow ahead and “madly teach” content that the learner is not conditioned or prepared to learn.

4.  Lesson Planning has three distinct components: purpose, process and outcomes. Each of these has sub categories.

5.  Lesson Planning begins with a reflection based needs assessment.  Of all the things this (these) learner(s) can come to know what is it that he/she (they) need to know now and why? [Creedon Question Two of Four Questions].

6.  Lesson Planning lays out the organization, process and implementation of a facilitator led learning experience

Facilitator Lead Learning Experience [FLLE]. [Creedon Questions Three and Four of Four Questions].

7.  Lesson Planning stipulates anticipated learning outcomes.  These are stated at the outset of

the learning experience.

8. Lesson Planning provides for projecting future needs or next steps. This section of the

lesson plan is done at the conclusion of the learning experience. It is based on a reflection based consideration of where each learner is and needs next.      .

9. Lesson Planning is open-ended.  It is cyclical.  It is recursive.

 

 

Lesson Planning: A Direct Instructional Approach

A direct instructional approach is teacher centered. It is designed to provide a procedural guideline for the teacher to transmit information to learners. It is whole class as opposed to learner centered. Here one size fits all.

 

Direct instruction characterizes what most teachers do most of the time.  The way in which the school is organized reinforces direct instruction.  Textbooks as opposed to varieties of multimedia reinforce direct instruction.  The school day organized into units of time per subject and class reinforces direct instruction.

 

Historically Johan Herbart (1776-1841) devised a five step lesson plan format.  The steps were:  Preparation, presentation, comparison, abstraction, and generalization.  The Herbartian Method characterized lesson planning for much of the 20th century.

 

In contemporary times, the direct instruction procedure of Madeline Hunter has gained prominence.  The steps of the Hunter approach are:

1.  Objectives

2.  Standards

3.  Anticipatory Set

4.  Teaching (input, modeling, check for understanding)

5.  Guided Practice, Monitoring

6.  Closure

7.  Independent Practice

 

All of the seven steps are self-explanatory except for possibly, number #3: Anticipatory Set. It is defined as follows: sometimes called the hook to grab the student’s attention: actions and statements by the teacher relate the experiences of the students to the objectives of the lesson. The purpose is to put students into a receptive frame of mind.  It is to focus student attention on the lesson, to create an organizing framework for the ideas, principles, or information that is to follow, to extend the understanding and the application of abstract idea through the use of example or analogy.

 

Additional information on the Madeline Hunter Model is found in the Appendix.

 

 

Lesson Planning; A Systemic Approach

Lesson Planning through a systemic approach can be and ought to be learner centered as opposed to direct instruction which is teacher centered and specific content focused.

 

For example, H. Jerome Freiberg and A. Driscoll, in Universal Teaching Strategies,  promote a seven step systemic instructional planning process.  In explaining the process, Freiberg and Driscoll do so using a teacher directed whole class approach.  They do not promote focusing on the individual learner or beginning by asking the question: How do these learners come to know?

A systemic approach is holistic and the identifiable needs of the learner ought to be at the center as the focal point.  Creedon’s Four Questions can serve as the foundation of a systemic approach.  The four questions are cited as an Appendix. A separate Creedon monograph is devoted to the Four Questions.

 

While engaged in Lesson Planning, the Four Questions ought to be continuously in the mind of the practitioner.  If not, then systems approach ceases to be learner centered.

 

The components of a systems approach essentially follow the steps of the scientific method.

The components are:

1.  Identify problem or issue.

Not every issue is a problem, but every problem is an issue.  Issue or problem identification is based on learner needs [Questions #2] rather than mandates, syllabi, content, or teacher preference.

2.  Determine Instructional Objectives and Outcomes

A gap exists as determined by the identification of a need(s).  What needs to be done to close the gap is stated in terms of instructional objectives.  The taxonomies of Bloom (Cognitive) and Krathwhol (Affective) are appropriate for structuring objectives. See Creedon monographs on Bloom.   Learning outcomes stipulate what can be observed or appraised in determining if the objective has been met.  The gap between the objective and the outcome is where learning takes place.  It is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD/Vygotsky).

3.  Select Solution Strategies from Among Alternatives

For most problems or issues, there is more than one solution.  Here learners identify alternatives an select that which is most appropriate in terms of being effective or efficient as well as being responsive to learning considerations [see the separate works of Gardner, Goleman, Vygotsky and Levine].  Also, the solution selected will be impacted by the purpose of the lesson as stipulated in the taxonomical structures referred to above.

4.  Implementation

This is the action component of the lesson.  Learning is considered to be an active and integrative process.  Learners learn by doing [Dewey]. All learning begins in doubt in the recognition that more needs to be known [Descartes: Discourse on Method/Mind]

 

5.  Determine Performance Effectiveness

This is the evaluation component of the TLE.  It is directly related to the instructional objectives stipulated at the outset.  Performance Effectiveness is related to learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are anticipatory as they are stated at the outset and anticipate what the outcomes will be if the objective is realized.  Performance effectiveness is as the term suggests. Effectiveness of the TLE is determined by the performance of the learner(s).  Techniques associated with authentic assessment apply.

6.   Revise Where & When Necessary

At any step in the entire process where and when circumstances warrant it is appropriate to make changes.  However, changes should not be a whimsical, eclectic, or random.  If  a change is made, it must be understood that a change in one component or procedure effects the whole, thus a review of the entire TLE must be undertaken.  Change is not the exclusive domain of the practitioner.  Learners may propose changes but before implementation they must be reviewed and approved by the instructor.

7.  Open System Closure

In a systemic approach to the TLE closure is existential B it anticipates what comes next.  Here learning is viewed as spiraling and recursive [Bruner].  Laddering and scaffolding apply.  There is no absolute end, but rather ends-in-view [Dewey].

 

Rubric  NOTE: I DO LONGER SUPPORT THE APPROACH TO RUBICS CITED BELOW . SEE CREEDON MONOGRPH ON RUBRICS.  LPC 9-15-10

No points                                                Did not do assignment. Submitted more than one day late. Did not follow instructions

1  Point                                                            Submitted on Time. Limited ability to describe, recall and/or apply characteristics of a lesson plan as well as either the direct instructional approach or the systemic approach

2  Points                                                  Demonstrated orally or in written form being able to recall and describe the characteristics of a lesson plan as well as those of both the direct and systemic approaches. Limited ability to apply to own practice or to compare and contrast the two approaches with own procedure

3. Points                                                Demonstrated orally and through application an understanding of the characteristics of lesson planning as well as those of both the direct and systemic approaches. Demonstrated ability to apply to own practice as well as compare and contrast the two approaches with own procedure.

 

Bibliography

Bloom, Benjamin.  (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives).

Freiberg, H. Jerome.  (2002) Essentials Skills for New TeachersASCD Educational Leadership.

Gardner, Howard.  (1991)   The Unschooled Mind. Basic Books, New York.

Goleman, Daniel   (1995)  Emotional Intelligence.  BantanBooks,New York.

Levine, Mel (2002 )  A Mind at a Time.  Simon and Shuster. New York

Vygotsky, Lev (1986)  Thought and Language MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

Lawrence P. Creedon:  lpcreedon@aol.com; Helen Louise Ross: hross730@aol.com

May 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curriculum and Instruction Are the same? Can you have one without the other?

December 25, 2009

Curriculum and Instruction
Are the same?
Can you have one without the other?
by
Lawrence P. Creedon

In the cognitive domain curriculum and instruction are what schools are all about. That being the case it seems reasonable to assume that there are clear and distinct definitions for each term and that they are commonly understood by educators. In practice, that does not seem to be the case, especially related to the term curriculum. It is common for individual practitioners to refer to ‘My curriculum.” However, do individual practitioners have a curriculum, or is it the school or school district that has a curriculum and it is the function of individual teachers to implement it? If that is the case then teachers are implementing an instructional program. Practitioners have more control and influence over the instructional program than they do the curriculum.

The distinction is more than one of semantics. Among the hallmarks of a profession is that practitioners share a common understanding of key terms. Curriculum and instruction are basic terms in education and as such the definitions of the terms ought to be clear and distinct.

A place to start for clarity in definitions might be the dictionary. One dictionary has defined curriculum as all the courses of study offered by an educational institution.  A particular course of study, often in a special field. The Latin origin of the word is currere, meaning to run. Instruction is defined as the act of, practice or profession of instructing; education. Imparted knowledge.  An imparted or acquired item of knowledge;  a lesson. The Latin origin of the word is instruere meaning to build.

While it is easy to see the distinction between the two terms, practitioners seem to use them interchangeably. Nevertheless, the dictionary definitions are inadequate. They do not identify a path that will lead to a clear and distinct definition of the two terms. Beyond dependence on the dictionary, interested scholars might consult the views of Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650), John Locke (XXX) and Charles Saunders Pierce. Decartes in his treatise Rules For the Direction of the Mind, Locke’s essay on Human Understanding and Pierce’s piece on  How We make Our Ideas Clear.

In this electronic age, maybe the Internet will provide the sought after information. A search of the Internet reveals that while there is an abundance of sites related to curriculum, few define what the terms mean. It seems to be assumed that curriculum is so basic a term that it does not need clarification.

What I have found on the Internet is a seemingly endless listing of curriculum guides with a heavy emphasis on skill development.  A curriculum based on skill development is a low order cognitive undertaking. While skill mastery is important, it is doubtful that it will lead to higher order cognitive critical thinking and application skills, or cultivate meta cognitive ability among learners.

In the United States since the high stakes standardized testing movement has taken hold within the past decade especially as a result of the No Child Left Behind federal law, many Internet references are made to state-by-state to what are referred to say curriculum frameworks. According to the same dictionary cited above, a framework is a structure for supporting, defining, or enclosing something; especially, skeletal erections and supports used as the basis in something being constructed ….A basic arrangement, form, or system.

Once again, I do not see anything here that assists me in answering the question: What is the curriculum?  In practical application frameworks are used state after state in determining standards. Frameworks become synonymous with curriculum. Frameworks specify basic skills that are to be mastered by students grade by grade. It seems as if the frame has become the structure rather than a device for supporting a structure. It looms as another example of those in bureaucratic authority dumbing – down the purpose of education to make it fit a preconceived idea. That idea seems to be that the purpose of schooling it to teach all kids the same basic cognitive skills at the same time. In order to do so teachers are forced to follow a one-size-and-approach-fits-all pedagogy.

Defining Curriculum
Defining the term curriculum has been conceded to be difficult because the term has been used in a variety of ways. Until the twentieth century defining curriculum was a rather simple undertaking. The curriculum was the wisdom of the ages embodied in the seven liberal arts of the trivium and the quadrivium. Both of these trace their origins to the ancient Greeks and came to fruition with the advent of the university in the Middle Ages [5th to 15th centuries]. The trivium consists of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The quadrivium includes geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and music.  Pedagogy was simple: The teacher taught and the learner learned. And, that was it. It was a sink or swim approach. It was segregated and racist. Education was for the elite and by no means considered a universal right.

In the context of the United States the first full length book devoted to the curriculum was written in 1918 by Franklin Bobbitt. Bobbitt identified the purpose of schooling as social efficiency.
In The Curriculum Bobbitt defined social efficiency by asserting that:

Human life, however, varied, consists in the performance of specific activities. Education that prepares for life is one that prepares definitely and adequately for these specific activities. However, numerous and diverse they may be for any social class, they can be discovered. This requires only that one go out into the world of affairs and discover the particulars of which these affairs consist. These will show the abilities, attitudes, habits, appreciations, and forms of knowledge that men need. These will be numerous, definite and particularized.

Clearly Bobbitt was describing a progressivist approach. Today that would be identified as constructivist. He anticipated much of what was to come after him in defining the purpose and significance of education. His social efficiency theory had to do with designing curriculum around life’s real issues. He anticipated John Dewey and a host of others down to the present day.

John Dewey  (1859 – 1952)
There is not dearth of scholars and learning theorists commenting on what the curriculum ought to be. A few will be cited here. John Dewey is the best known, read, embraced, and criticized of all the those who fall into the progressivist (now constructivist camp). In his essay The Child and the Curriculum (1902) Dewey commented on the wide and often conflicting worlds of the individual child and society in general, and on the particular interests and needs of the child versus the externally determined interest and needs of society. This led Dewey to comment on alternative approaches to what we would now identify as curriculum. Dewey noted:

The fundamental factors in the educative process are an immature, undeveloped being; and certain social aims, meanings, values incarnate in the matured experience of the adult. The educative process is the due interaction of these forces. Such a conception of each in relation to the other as facilitates completest and freest interaction is the essence of educational theory.

Dewey was not known for ease in understanding his syntax and the above citation can be an example. It may take a few readings to understand what he is saying. The bottom line is that he is focusing on the dualism between a child-centered learning environment versus subject matter centered.

Dewey goes on to be critical of the dualism that had developed between what he termed “the nature of the child” and the “developed consciousness of the adult.” When this happens, as it had and continues to do so today, Dewey concluded:  Instead of seeing the educative steadily and as a whole, we see conflicting terms. We get the case of the child vs. the curriculum; of the individual nature vs. social culture.   Writing in 1902, Dewey was commending on conditions prevalent during that period, however, he was anticipating the debacle that confronts curriculum developers today. The question remains: Is the purpose of schooling and thus the curriculum to assist learners in coming to know while embracing a pedagogy that is responsive to what is known about how learners learn?  Or, is it to structure an environment where students are exposed, and drilled, on a core body of information, which all must learn and do so in essentially the same way, sequence and period of time? It is the difference between a constructivist and traditional approach. The conflicting alternatives are between pragmatism and essentialism.

In describing what he terms as the “Discipline’ approach to learning Dewey observed that all school subjects are classified and that:
Facts are torn away from the original place in experience and rearranged with reference to some general principle. Classification is not a matter of child experience; things do not come to the individual pigeonholed.
He went on to say:
The vital ties of affection, the connecting bonds of activity, hold together the variety of his the learner’s] personal experiences.

Dewey bemoaned the growth of different educational sects. He observed, one school fixes the attention upon the importance of the subject-matter of the curriculum as compared with the contents of the child’s own experience. It is believed, Dewey noted:

… in these studies is found an objective universe of truth, law, and order….[The} studies  introduce a world arranged on the basis of eternal and general truth, a world where all is measured and defined. Hence the moral: ignore and minimize the child’s individual peculiarities, whims, and experiences. They are what we need to get away from. They are to be obscured or eliminated. As educators our work in precisely to substitute for these superficial and casual affairs stable and well-ordered realities and these are found in studies and lessons.

Dewey had much more to say related to this matter, but hopefully the point has been made. Dewey was critical of the traditionalists of his day, those who focused on subject matter, Discipline, as the primary basis of education. Today this view would find support among many, including advocates of a core curriculum such E.D. Hirsch. For more on the core curriculum see: Hirsch, The Schools We Need, And Why We Don’t have Them, Doubleday, 1996.

In contrast to the traditionalists, Dewey cites his understanding of the other “sect.” Dewey observed:
The child is the starting point, the center and the end. His development, his growth, is the ideal. It alone furnishes the standard. To the growth of the child all studies are subservient, they are instruments valued as they serve the needs of growth. Personality, character, is more than subject-matter. Not knowledge or information, but self-actualization, is the goal. To possess all the world of knowledge and lose one’s own self is as awful in education as in religion. Moreover, subject matter never can be got into the child from without. Learning is active. It involves reaching out of the mind. In involves organic assimilation starting from within. Literally, we must take our stand with the child and our departure from him. It is he and not the subject-matter which determines both quality and quantity of learning.

Constructivists take their stand with this view. The list of those in the constructivist camp is extensive.

Nearly a half century after Dewey wrote The Child and the Curriculum, Ralph Tyler published his classic work: Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, [1949]. Tyler was in the Dewey, or as it sometimes referred to as the Instrumentalist tradition. Instrumentalism was the term coined to identify Dewey’s progressive and pragmatic beliefs. The term implied that human experience provided the instruments for discovering and for structuring knowledge, including the school curriculum.

In Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, Tyler summaries several approaches to what he termed as the objectives of education. His use of that term is synonymous with the use of the term curriculum in this piece.  Tyler identified five approaches, namely:
1. Individual and Societal Needs
2. Learner Interest
3. Issues of Contemporary Life
4. Wisdom of the Ages
5. Knowledge That Is Most Important

Based on the identifying phrases above, each theory is self explanatory; therefore, space will not be devoted to defining them here. Tyler goes into more detail related to each of the five. It is self-evident that the five remain viable today.

The demarcation between the Instrumentalists and the Traditionalists is obvious [Traditionalist are also referred to as Essentialists]. Tyler’s first three approaches reflect an Instrumentalist approach. Approaches 4 and 5 reflect a Traditional focus.

Tyler begins his book by raising the question: What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? As obvious as that question is, seldom is it more than superficially addressed. Tyler observed, many educational programs do not have clearly defined purposes. Then he went on to assert:

[I}f an education program  is to be planned and its efforts for continued improvement are to be made, it is very necessary to have some conception of the goals that are being aimed at. These educational objectives become the criteria by which materials are selected, content is outlined, instructional procedures are developed and tests and examinations are prepared. All aspects of the educational program are really means to accomplish basic educational purposes. Hence, if we are to study an educational program systemically and intelligently we must first be sure as to the educational objective aimed at

Tyler’s point is that curriculum is one component of a systemic, comprehensive, design for learning.  Curriculum development does not take place in a vacuum. It is not an end in itself, no more than do apples in and of themselves make an apple pie.

William Phinney
In 1975 William Phinney, the then assistant superintendent of school in Quincy for curriculum and instruction, observed that:
Curriculum is based upon an analysis of the nature of man, his values, his aims in life, and his knowledge.  One examines these issues and determines answers in this area through a philosophical stance.

Phinney went on to define curriculum as:

The organization of the rationale, logical systematized series of learning objectives that the school system agrees are worthy of achieving.
Allan A. Glatthorn
In 1987 Allan Glatthorn contributed to the discourse on curriculum in his book Curriculum Leadership.   At the outset he observed that the task of defining the concept is perhaps the most difficult of all, for the term curriculum has been used with quite different meanings ever since the field took form. Then he goes on to list definitions offered by several authorities.

In arriving at his own definition, Glatthon stated that a useful definition of curriculum should meet two criteria: It should reflect the general understanding of the term as used by educators; and it should be useful to educators in making operational distinctions.

Glatthon then offered his own definition of curriculum:

The curriculum is the plans made for guiding learning in the schools, usually represented in retrievable documents of several levels of generality, and the articulation of those plans in the classroom, as experienced by the learners and as recorded by an observer; those experiences take place in a learning environment which also influences what is learned.

Glatthon went on to note that while his definition does not deal explicitly with the relationship between curriculum and instruction, there is one. He viewed instruction as an aspect of curriculum, whose function and importance change throughout the several types of curriculum. He asserts that there are differences between the planned curriculum and the actualized curriculum.

Every teacher knows from experience that what is presented by those in authority as the curriculum is not necessarily the same as what actually goes on behind the classroom door). Glatthon addresses this by identifying several types of curricula. He lists the:

Recommended Curriculum – promulgated by those in authority or “experts.”
Written Curriculum –     promulgated by the state or school in curriculum guides
Supported Curriculum – that for which resources are available to support
Tested Curriculum –   that which the learner is tested on.
Hidden Curriculum – aspects of schooling that unintentionally influence learning
Learned Curriculum – what students understand, come to know and can apply

Ironically Glatthon does not cite teacher influence and direction as a factor in defining and determining curriculum.

Once again, as with the other authorities cited earlier, Glatthon does not view curriculum as an entity unto itself. Rather he proposes it as a component of a comprehensive and systemic approach to learning.

E.D. Hirsch
In contrast to the authorities cited above is the position of E.D. Hirsch. He is an essentialist and best associated with the core curriculum movement. In his book The Schools We Need and Why We Need Them (1996), Hirsch took aim at progressivists
He asserted:
Most current ‘reforms’ are repetitions of the long-failed Romantic anti knowledge proposals that emanated from Teachers College, Columbia University in the teens, twenties and thirties of this century.

Hirsch accuses the progressivist movement as being at the root of societal ills such as the widening economic gap within the United States between the rich and the poor. He declares:

It is bitter irony that the egalitarian rhetoric of American educational orthodoxy has fostered inequality. All recent social observers in the United States have condemned the widening economic gap between rich and poor, and have noted the correlation with a gap in educational achievement. In the period from 1942 to 1966 – that is, in the period before the anti-subject matter theories of the1920, and 30s metastasized throughout the schools – public education had begun to close the economic gap between the races and social classes. But after that period, among students who had been taught for all twelve grades of schooling under anti-subject-matter theories –verbal SAT scores began a steep decline. At the same time, the black-white wage gap, which had continually narrowed between 1942 and 1966, suddenly stabilized. This abrupt halt in progress toward wage equity was first detected in the midst of the SAT decline.

In the chapter devoted to a summarization of his book Hirsch states: [p. 215]

the direct origin of our dominant (and ineffectual ) educational orientation was the progressive movement of the 1920s that emanated from Teachers College, Columbia University…I have placed the progressive movement within the  tradition of American Romanticism, which began in the early nineteenth century and has persisted powerfully in our culture ever since. It is this pervasive, deep-dyed Romanticism, not just its one-time expression in the progressive movement which continues to thwart a balanced educational approach that would emphasize high standards, book learning, and hard work in school.

In the first chapter of his book Hirsch asserts: [p. 7]

The educational standpoint from which this book is written may be accurately described as neither ‘traditional,’ nor ‘progressive.’ It is pragmatic. Both educationalists and progressivists have tended to be far two dogmatic, polemical, and theory ridden to be reliable beacons for public policy. The pragmatist tries to avoid simplifications and facile oppositions.

Hirsch is a strong advocate of the core curriculum movement. He is widely known for his Core knowledge Series. In the series there is a separate volume for each grade level Kindergarten through grade six. Each volume is devoted to the common, core learnings each child should master in each of those grades. He is the founder of a network of Core Knowledge Schools where 50 percent of the curriculum is devoted to common, core learnings.

Hirsch notes that he does not have many suggestions regarding the large-scale  policies needed to create more demanding elementary schools. Then he goes on to say that there can be no substitute for the main elements of the task itself and that:

Schools need to have a coherent, cumulative core curriculum which instills consensus values such as civic duty, honesty, diligence, perserverance, respect, kindness, and independent-mindedness; which gives students step-by-step mastery of procedural knowledge in language arts and mathematics; which gives them step-by-step mastery of content knowledge in civics, science, the arts, and the humanities; and which holds students, teachers, schools, and parents accountable for acceptable progress in achieving these specific year-by-year goals.
Defning Instruction
As stated earlier, curriculum and instruction are not the same. Curriculum has to do with what is taught, instruction has to do with how teachers teach and how learners learn.
The most influential theoretical construct currently influencing instruction is behaviorism. A contemporary and concise summary of the historical influence of behaviorism on the instructional program is that stated by Donald G. Hackmann in the Phi Delta Kappan, May 2004. Hackmann observed that prior to 1900 American high schools and academieis were characterized by flexibility. Subjects were offered in varied formats – each course differing in the number of days each week in which instruction was delivered. That changed beginning in 1909 with the advent of the Carnegie Unit, developed by the College Entrance Examination Board. From that time until the 1970s the single most prominent organizational structure for the American secondary school was the 6 or 7 period day with each period being 45 or 50 minutes long.

In 1971 in an address to the 2000 members of the professional staff of the Quincy Public Schools titled Recycling the Melting Pot: Public Schools of Choice I summarized in 100 words each what I saw as the way elementary, junior high and high schools in the United States were organized.  I observed:
Elementary schools were organized around self-contained classrooms. Reading was taught through a basal reader to three groups: fast, average and slow. Math, and almost everything else was taught to to the whole class as a single unit somewhat through the lecture method. In some classrooms teachers did have two math groups. Spelling was taught to the whole class in a five-day cycle from introduction of the new words on Monday to  a final test on Friday. Teacher lesson plans all followed the same format and were checked by the principal one week in advance. Collaboration between teachers was not encouraged.
Junior high schools were senior high schools in miniature. Each one was organized on a departmental basis. Laboratory science was non-existent, penmanship was a subject and research projects were done only by gifted younsters. Instruction was from the textbook and desks and chairs were kept in rows. Seventh grade students were advised that a ‘ no nonsense’ approach prevailed  because they were no longer in elementary school. Ninth grade students agonized over which course to take in high school: college, business or general. Difficult students who could work with their hands were encouraged to apply to the trade school.
Emphasis in the high school was on college preparation. Business education for girls was second, but large numbersof student marked time in the general course. A single grading system was followed. The Honor Roll while dominated by college prep students, did include some business education majors. I do not know what the drop out rate was because statistics were not available. The pupil-teacher ratio was10 to 1 higher than at present. Textbooks and lectures characterized the tools and style of instruction. In many classrooms chairs were nailed to the floor.  Science laboratories were few and far between, and poorly equipped.
Possibly the reader can identify with much of the above.  And, rather than being read in a historicval context can say to self: That sounds like  much of what I experience today.
In 1970, one year before I expressed by view as stated above, the then eminent psychologist Carl Rogers in addressing the Council of Chief State School Officers observed:
If traditional education cannot change its mossback stance as the most rigid, bureaucratic, incompetent instituition in our culture, then the American public school is doomed.
A question is: To what extent has Dr. Rogers’  prophesy been borne out to be true.
Beginning with the application of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1969 alternatives began to be explored and tried. At the secondary evel among them were block scheduling and schemes such as the 4 by 4 semester. In block scheduling the length od the period extened to up to 100 minutes. Obviously, classes did not meet each day. In the 4 by 4 plan students complete four courses each semester as opposed to a minimum of five. In  an academic year eight courses would be completed.
Junior high were re-organized into middle where the focus was supposed to on the psychological factors impacting on early adolesence. However, today some school are abondoning the middle school and returning to dimensions of the former junior high school.
The time honored tradition of the self contained elementary has been replaced by adopting aspects of the secondary school. Teacher specialization has replaced the self contained  classroom.  Another emerging change at the elementary level is the strategy of looping. In looping one teacher stays with the same group of children for two or more years.
A criticsim aired by Hackman about all of this was that the plans were for the most part  examples of tinkering with the organizational structure of the school and were not rooted on research based learning theory that focused on how learners come to know and what it is that they need to know.
A Point of View
The point of view taken in this monograph is that:
1. There is a difference between curriculum and instruction
2. Although there is a difference for the most part practitioners use the terms curriculum and instruction synonymously.
3. It is not a primary responsibility or function of practitioners to write curriculum. They have little professional preparation in this regard.
4. Practitioners need a dual competence in the content of their area of specialization and in the application of learning theory based instruction.
5. Instruction ought to be based on an understanding of how learners come to know.
6. The school ought to be organized in response to what is known about how learners come to know as well as what it is that they need to know.
7. The divide between traditional and progressive (constructivist) approaches to education  is a non sequiter. It cannot be supported when subjected to objective analysis.
8. Behaviorist approaches to learning have long characterized the primary approach to learning in schools.
9. Behaviorist appraoches have merit when the learning objective is related to low  order cognitive development such as gathering information and in response indicating that the information has been understood. (Bloom’s low order cognitive development).
10. Alternative approaches to learning such as tjhose associated with constructivism are more appropriate for higher order learning experiences such as analysis, evaluation, application and metacognition. (Bloom’s higer order cognitive development).
Behaviorist approaches to schooling are well known to students, parents and practitioners. It is a given that just about everyone in a first world country has had several years of  schooling. And, if that is the case then they have experienced a behaviorist aspproach to learning.
Less well known, understood and practiced is a constructivist approach to learning. In a constructivist appraoch there is no specific body of information or knowledge that  constitutes the curriculum. Constructivism has more to do with pedagogy, an understanding of how learning takes place, and an instructional process that is based on that understanding than it does with curriculum.
Conclusion
Constructivism has clearly identified characteristics as well as a conceptual framework. Among the identifying characteristics are:
Learning is a student centered and interactive process
Learning comes about as the result of doing and undergoing experience
Learning is a process of exploration, discovery and application
Participatory decision making characterizes the learning environment and process
The teacher is a facilitator of learning as opposed to a dispenser of information

Contrary to some popular belief constructivism has a past. It has an extensive link to earlier contributors in philosophy and psychology. In the list that follows a few of these are identified as being associated with one or more of the concepts that undergird constructivism. Among the concepts are:

1.  Learners construct their own knowledge beginning with what they already know, exploring what needs to be known next and determining the quality and effectiveness of their pursuit through authentic assessment and application.
2.    All learning begins in doubt about the validity of an idea. The goal of doubt is the restoration of belief. (Pierce, James).
3.    Learning takes place in the personal zone of cognitive development between what is already known, what is not known and what is desired to be known [Vygotsky].
4.    Learning is achieved best through a socially interactive process [Dewey, Vygotsky].
5.    Learning is best achieved when the undertaking is consistent with the stages of human development [Rousseau, Piaget].
6.    Learning is an experience based process of inquiring, discovering, exploring, doing and undergoing [Dewey].
7. The process of coming to know is neither random nor eclectic, it has structure
[Bruner, Bloom].
8. Learning proceeds in spiraling fashion including laddering, scaffolding, weaving, and dialogism [Bruner, Rogoff].

Currently in the United States the tail wagging the educational dog is the No Child Left Behind federal law [NCLB]. The law mandates many things and among them is that by the year 2007 all schools must be staffed by highly qualified teachers. No one can quarrel with the ideal. However, among the questions that need to be asked at the outset are:

1. Why is there a need for such legislation? Should it not be a given that all teachers are highly qualified in the same way that all professionals ought to be whether they are physicians and surgeons, airline pilots, electricians and plumbers or educators?
2. What is meant by “highly qualified?”  Does it relate only to content? Does it include expertise in learning theory and pedagogy? Does it imply that there is a preferred and even mandated way to teach such as is the case in reading with a phonics approach being required over whole language?

Strategies and tactics applied behind the classroom door that are not based on non selective research in learning theory are reckless. And, learning theory not carried out in practice is useless.  Theoretical principles must drive practice and principles of practice must drive structure. It seems reasonable to conclude that a school faculty should first reach consensus on a theory that will underscore its approach to learning.  To do less can be to be at play at little games.

I concur and to do less can be to be at play in little games.

There are many places where a faculty, or an individual, might begin the quest. One might be to clearly and distinctly determine: What is curriculum and what is instruction? Are they the same?  Can you have one without the other?

Ipse dixit!
Lawrence P. Creedon
July 200
http://www.larrycreedon.info

An exercise: Five Approaches to Classroom Management

December 18, 2009

An Exercise
Five Approaches to Classroom Management
This is a set of guidelines for a Special Assignment and for conducting an exercise in considering the five
approaches to classroom management as outlined in Robert Tauber’s book: Classroom Management
[1999]. This Special Assignment is one in a series of assignments that will be conducted under course
participant leadership. You are being asked to accept a leadership role in this exercise.
Made available to all course participants is the Creedon monograph summarizing five approaches to
classroom management as outlined by Robert Tauber in Classroom Management.
Three Principles of Learning
In this exercise three principles of learning are being embraced:
1. Begin the learning process with the identifiable learning interests and needs of the learner.
2. Those who are to be affected by a decision ought to be involved in the process of making,
implementing and being held accountable for decisions made.
3. Learning is an interactive activity.
Principle One: In the on line pre course exercises several participants expressed their concern over issues
related to CM and student behavior.
Principle Two: It has been emphasized that the course will proceed consistent with a constructivist
approach. Involvement in decision making those effected is consistent with Constructivism.
Principle Three: This course will illustrate this principle. This exercise is evidence of that.
Leading the Exercise
1. A team of no more than three will lead the exercise
2. Divide the class into small groups of not more than four members
3. Assign each small group the responsibility for looking into one of the five approaches cited by
Tauber.
4. The information on each approach found in the Creedon monograph is not enough. The group will
need to do further Internet based research: GOOGLE.
5. Counsel each group that it is follow the six categories in Bloom’s taxonomy in developing its
response.
Learning is an Interactive Activity
As you plan how to lead the exercise be certain that it features participant involvement and interaction. DO
NOT simply have each small group report its findings and views. Move beyond traditional presentations.
Enlist other tactics. What they are is up you.
Summary and Conclusion
As a culminating activity have the class express itself as to:
1. Which of the five approaches has the greatest degree of support.
2. Is it best to structure an approach that includes dimensions of several aspects of each. If so, what
are they?
3. Develop a Plan of Action for a whole school approach.
Larry Creedon  10-01-08

The Consequence of Consequences

December 18, 2009

The Consequence of Consequences
Lawrence P. Creedon
On the surface of it to assert that everyone –students included –should be responsible for
their actions and be prepared to suffer the consequences for what they do seems logical
and just. The term used to identify such a reality is “logical consequences.” [Alfie Kohn,
Rewards by Punishment, 1993, pp. 169-173]. Does not the history of humankind attest to
that simple, logical truth? Who is not familiar with the Biblical maxim regarding
punishment: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?” Who is not familiar with the
political rewards maxim: “To the victor go the spoils?”
Currently the issue of rewards, punishment and consequences is associated with the
psychological school of behaviorism and its most prominent proponent B.F. Skinner. An
earlier prominent of behaviorism was Edward Thorndike who is associated with the “Law
of Effect:” In describing the Law of Effect Thorndike remarked: “The greater the
satisfaction or discomfort, the greater the strengthening or weakening of the bond.”
[Animal Intelligence: Experimental Studies, 1911, p. 244]. In human beings as with
animals the consequence of consequences of discomfort does not necessarily result in
strengthening the bond and compliance behavior on the part of the offender. Observation
and experience has made evident that it can result in resistance, anger, repulsion and even
violence on the part of the offender..
Among the questions that surface when the issue of consequences are critically looked at
are:
1. Is a consequence a punishment for wrong doing or as a stimulus for a firm
purpose of amendment?
2. What are the consequences of a consequence directed at an offending individual
or group on those not involved in the offense?
3. Is it a sound practice to punish everyone in a group for the offense of an
individual or subset of the group?
4. Should consequences take circumstances into consideration or are consequences
pre-ordained and prescribed?
What is your view and experience on the matter? What is the rationale for your position?
How does your position and practice relate to your view and practice relative to
classroom management? Does your school have a position and a practice? Are they the
same? If not, how do they differ and why?
Ipse dixit
Lawrence P. Creedon
http://www.larrycreedon.wordpress.com
October 7, 2008.

Curriculum and Instruction: Then and Now

December 18, 2009

1
Curriculum and Instruction: Then and Now
Are They the same?
Can you have one without the other?
Lawrence P. Creedon
In the cognitive domain curriculum and instruction are what schools are all about. That
being the case it seems reasonable to assume that there are clear and distinct definitions
for each term and that they are commonly understood by educators. In practice, that does
not seem to be the case, especially related to the term curriculum. It is common for
individual practitioners to refer to ‘My curriculum.” However, do individual practitioners
have a curriculum, or is it the school or school district that has a curriculum and it is the
function of individual teachers to implement it? If that is the case then teachers are
implementing an instructional program. Practitioners have more control and influence
over the instructional program than they do the curriculum.
The distinction is more than one of semantics. Among the hallmarks of a profession is
that practitioners share a common understanding of key terms. Curriculum and
instruction are basic terms in education and as such the definitions of the terms ought to
be clear and distinct.
A place to start for clarity in definitions might be the dictionary. One dictionary has
defined curriculum as all the courses of study offered by an educational institution. A
particular course of study, often in a special field. The Latin origin of the word is
currere, meaning to run. Instruction is defined as The act of, practice or profession of
instructing; education. Imparted knowledge. An imparted or acquired item of
knowledge; a lesson. The Latin origin of the word is instruere meaning to build. The
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin, 1969.
While it is easy to see the distinction between the two terms practitioners seem to use
them interchangeably. Nevertheless, the dictionary definitions are inadequate. They do
not identify a path that will lead to a clear and distinct definition of the two terms.
In this electronic age, maybe the Internet will provide the sought after information. A
search of the Internet reveals that while there is an abundance of sites related to
curriculum, few define what the terms mean. It seems to be assumed that curriculum is so
basic a term that it does not need clarification.
What I have found on the Internet is a seemingly endless listing of curriculum guides
with a heavy emphasis on skill development. A curriculum based on skill development is
a low order cognitive undertaking. While skill mastery is important, it is doubtful that it
will lead to higher order cognitive critical thinking and application skills, or cultivate
meta cognitive ability among learners.
Since the high stakes standardized testing movement has taken hold within the past
decade, many Internet references are made to state-by-state Frameworks. According to
2
the same dictionary a framework is a structure for supporting, defining, or enclosing
something; especially, skeletal erections and supports used as the basis in something
being constructed ….A basic arrangement, form, or system. Once again, I do not see
anything here that assists me in answering the question: What is the curriculum? In
practical application frameworks are used state after state in determining standards.
Frameworks become synonymous with curriculum. Frameworks specify basic skills that
are to be mastered by students grade by grade. It seems as if the frame has become the
structure rather than a device for supporting a structure. It looms as another example of
those in bureaucratic authority dumbing – down the purpose of education to make it fit a
preconceived idea. That idea seems to be that the purpose of schooling it to teach all kids
the same basic cognitive skills at the same time and it order to do so force teachers to use
a one-size-and-approach-fits-all pedagogy.
Defining Curriculum
Defining the term curriculum has been conceded to be difficult because it has been used
in a variety of ways. Prior to the nineteenth century it was rather simple task. The
curriculum was the wisdom of the ages embodied in the seven liberal arts of the trivium
and the quadrivium. Both of these trace their origins to the ancient Greeks and came to
fruition with the advent of the university in the Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries). The
trivium consists of grammar, logic and rhetoric. The quadrivium includes geometry,
astronomy, arithmetic and music. Pedagogy was simple: The teacher taught and the
learner learned. And, that was it. It was a sink or swim approach.
In the context of the United States the first full length book devoted to the curriculum was
written by Franklin Bobbitt in 1918. Bobbitt identified the purpose of schooling as social
efficiency. Franklin Bobbitt, the Curriculum, 1918, The Riverside Press,
Cambridge, MA, USA, p. 41.
In The Curriculum Bobbitt asserted that the central theory of social efficiency was
simple:
Human life, however, varied, consists in the performance of specific activities.
Education that prepares for life is one that prepares definitely and adequately for these
specific activities. However, numerous and diverse they may be for any social class, they
can be discovered. This requires only that one go out into the world of affairs and
discover the particulars of which these affairs consist. These will show the abilities,
attitudes, habits, appreciations, and forms of knowledge that men need. These will be
numerous, definite and particularized.
Clearly Bobbitt was anticipating much of what was to follow him in identifying the
purpose and significance of education. His social efficiency theory had to do with
designing curriculum around life’s real issues. He anticipated John Dewey and a host of
others down to the present day.
John Dewey [1859 – 1952]
There is not dearth of scholars and learning theorists commenting on what the curriculum
ought to be. A few will be cited here. In his essay The Child and the Curriculum [1902]
3
Dewey commented on the wide and often conflicting worlds of the individual child and
society in general, on the particular interests and needs of the child versus the externally
determined interest and needs of society. This led Dewey to comment on alternative
approaches to what we would now identify as curriculum. Dewey noted:
The fundamental factors in the educative process are an immature, undeveloped being;
and certain social aims, meanings, values incarnate in the matured experience of the
adult. The educative process is the due interaction of these forces. Such a conception of
each in relation to the other as facilitates completest and freest interaction is the essence
of educational theory.
Dewey was not known for ease in understanding his syntax and the above citation can be
an example. It may take a few readings to understand what he is saying. The bottom line
is that he is focusing on the dualism between a child-centered learning environment vs.
subject matter centered.
Dewey goes on to be critical of the dualism that had developed between what he termed
“the nature of the child” and the “developed consciousness of the adult.” When this
happens, as it had and continues to do so today, Dewey concluded, Instead of seeing the
educative steadily and as a whole, we see conflicting terms. We get the case of the child
vs. the curriculum; of the individual nature vs. social culture. Dewey, Child and
Curriculum, The School and Society, University of Chicago Press, 1902, 1900, pp 4-5.
Phoenix Books, pb
Writing in 1902, Dewey was commending on conditions prevalent during that period,
however, he was anticipating the debacle that confronts curriculum developers today. The
question remains: Is the purpose of schooling and thus the curriculum to assist learners in
coming to know while embracing a pedagogy that is responsive to what is known about
how learners learn? Or, is it to structure an environment where students are exposed, and
drilled, on a core body of information, which all must learn and do so in essentially the
same way, sequence and period of time?
In describing what he terms as the “Discipline’ approach to learning Dewey observed that
all school subjects are classified and that:
Facts are torn away from the original place in experience and rearranged with reference
to some general principle. Classification is not a matter of child experience; things do
not come to the individual pigeonholed.
He went on to say, The vital ties of affection, the connecting bonds of activity, hold
together the variety of his [the learner’s] personal experiences.
Dewey bemoaned the growth of different educational sects. He observed, one school fixes
the attention upon the importance of the subject-matter of the curriculum as compared
with the contents of the child’s own experience. It is believed, Dewey noted, that in these
studies is found an objective universe of truth, law, and order….[The} studies introduce
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a world arranged on the basis of eternal and general truth, a world where all is
measured and defined. Hence the moral: ignore and minimize the child’s individual
peculiarities, whims, and experiences. They are what we need to get away from. They are
to be obscured or eliminated. As educators our work in precisely to substitute for these
superficial and casual affairs stable and well-ordered realities and these are found in
studies and lessons.
Dewey had much more to say related to this matter, but hopefully the point has been
made. Dewey was critical of the traditionalists of his day, those who focused on subject
matter, Discipline, as the primary basis of education. Today this view would find support
among many, including advocates of a core curriculum such E.D. Hirsch. For more on
the core curriculum see: Hirsch, The Schools We Need, And Why We Don’t have Them,
Doubleday, 1996.
In contrast to the traditionalists Dewey cites his understanding of the other “sect.” Dewey
observed:
The child is the starting point, the center and the end. His development, his growth, is the
ideal. It alone furnishes the standard. To the growth of the child all studies are
subservient, they are instruments valued as they serve the needs of growth. Personality,
character, is more than subject-matter. Not knowledge or information, but selfactualization,
is the goal. To possess all the world of knowledge and lose one’s own self
is as awful in education as in religion. Moreover, subject matter never can be got into the
child from without. Learning is active. It involves reaching out of the mind. In involves
organic assimilation starting from within. Literally, we must take our stand with the child
and our departure from him. It is he and not the subject-matter which determines both
quality and quantity of learning.
Constructivists “take their stand” with this view. The list of those in the constructivist
camp is extensive. See the Creedon monograph: Constructivism – Theory and
Characteristics. [EN: I place myself in the constructivist tradition].
Ralph Tyler (XXXX)
Nearly a half century after Dewey wrote The Child and the Curriculum, Ralph Tyler
published his classic work: Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, 1949.Tyler
was in the Dewey, or Instrumentalist, tradition. Instrumentalism was the term coined to
identify Dewey’s progressive and pragmatic beliefs. The term implied that human
experience provided the instruments for discovering and for structuring knowledge,
including the school curriculum.
In Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, Tyler summarized several approaches
to what he termed as the objectives of education. His use of that term is synonymous with
the use of the term curriculum in this piece. Tyler identified five approaches, namely:
1. Individual and Societal Needs
2. Learner Interest
3. Issues of Contemporary Life
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4. Wisdom of the Ages
5. Knowledge That Is Most Important
Based on the identifying phrases above, each theory is self explanatory; therefore, space
will not be devoted to defining them here. However, Tyler goes into more detail related
to each of the five. Also he made the point that no one approach was is by itself adequate.
He advocated a synthesis.
The demarcation between the Instrumentalists and the Traditionalists (or Essentalists as
they are also referred to) is obvious. Theories 1 – 3 reflect an Instrumentalist approach,
theories 4 and 5 a Traditional focus.
Tyler opened his book by raising the question: What educational purposes should the
school seek to attain? As obvious as that question is, seldom is it more than superficially
addressed. Tyler observed, many educational programs do not have clearly defined
purposes. Then he went on to assert:
[I}f an education program is to be planned and its efforts for continued improvement are
to be made, it is very necessary to have some conception of the goals that are being
aimed at. These educational objectives become the criteria by which materials are
selected, content is outlined, instructional procedures are developed and tests and
examinations are prepared. All aspects of the educational program are really means to
accomplish basic educational purposes. Hence, if we are to study an educational
program systemically and intelligently we must first be sure as to the educational
objective aimed at. EN This citation from Tyler precisely anticipates the ten
component design for learning, A Student Centered Learning System, developed by
educators in Quincy MA during my tenure as superintendent of schools.
Tyler’s point was that curriculum is one component of a systemic, comprehensive, design
for learning. Curriculum development did not take place in a vacuum. It was not an end
in itself, no more than do apples in and of themselves make an apple pie.
William Phinney
In 1975 William Phinney observed that:
Curriculum is based upon an analysis of the nature of man, his values, his aims in life,
and his knowledge. One examines these issues and determines answers in this area
through a philosophical stance.
He went on to define curriculum as
The organization of the rationale, logical systematized series of learning objectives that
the school system agrees are worthy of achieving. [EN Phinney, William, Curriculum
and Instruction and Their Relationship within the Student Centered Learning System,
1975, pp. 1 – 2].
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(EN William Phinney served as Assistant Superintendent of School for Curriculum
and Instruction, Quincy MA during the period when the Quinct Student Centered
Learning System was developed and implemented. He as a primary contributor to
the effort).
Allan A. Glatthorn
In 1987 Allan Glatthorn contributed to the discourse on curriculum in his book
Curriculum Leadership. [EN Glatthon, Allan, Curriculum Leadership, Scott,
Foresman, 1987, pp 1- 20]. At the outset he observed that the task of defining the
concept is perhaps the most difficult of all, for the term curriculum has been used with
quite different meanings ever since the field took form. Then he goes on to list definitions
offered by several authorities.
In arriving at his own definition Glatthon stated that a useful definition of curriculum
should meet two criteria: It should reflect the general understanding of the term as used
by educators; and it should be useful to educators in making operational distinctions.
Glatthon then offered his own definition of curriculum:
The curriculum is the plans made for guiding learning in the schools, usually represented
in retrievable documents of several levels of generality, and the articulation of those
plans in the classroom, as experienced by the learners and as recorded by an observer;
those experiences take place in a learning environment which also influences what is
learned.
Glatthon goes on to note that while his definition does not deal explicitly with the
relationship between curriculum and instruction, there is one. He views instruction as an
aspect of curriculum, whose function and importance change throughout the several
types of curriculum. He asserts that there are differences between the planned curriculum
and the actualized curriculum.
Every teacher knows from experience that what is presented by those in authority as the
curriculum is not necessarily the same as what actually goes on behind the classroom
door). Glatthon addresses this by identifying several types of curricula. He lists the:
Recommended Curriculum – promulgated by those in authority or known as experts
Written Curriculum – promulgated by the state or school in curriculum guides
Supported Curriculum – that for which resources are available to support
Tested Curriculum – that which the learner is tested on.
Hidden Curriculum – aspects of schooling that unintentionally influence learning
Learned Curriculum – what students understand, come to know and can apply
Ironically Glatthon does not cite teacher influence and direction as a factor in defining
and determining curriculum.
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Once again, as with the other authorities cited earlier, Glatthon does not view curriculum
as an entity unto itself. Rather he proposes it as a component of a comprehensive and
systemic approach to learning
Lawrence P. Creedon
2003.

How to Use Instructional Objectives as a Learning Tool

December 18, 2009

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How to Use Instructional Objectives as a Learning Tool
An Exercise
Lawrence P. Creedon
Instructional objectives address two basic questions and they are:
Where are the learners being taken?
How are they going to get there?
The Where are we going dimension of the objective is stated as a declarative
sentence. It declares where the learning activity is going. The How are going to get
there dimension ought to be stated consistent with six domains of Bloom’s cognitive
taxonomy1 For example, and to use a metaphor: Are the learners to get there on foot –
the most basic traditional mode of transportation. If so this would be akin to Bloom’s
low order cognitive category of knowledge [information]. Or, are the learners going
to travel in a more contemporary mode by some form of motor or mechanized
transport? If so, this would be akin to Bloom’s higher order cognitive skills such as
analysis [comparing and contrasting] and synthesis.
Beyond both of these modes the learners might travel meta cognitively, soaring
beyond the confines of terra firma and into the stratosphere. This conjures up notions
of what Jonathan Livingston Seagull had in mind in asserting: The gull that flies the
highest sees the farthest.2
In this exercise the learner is to:
1. Familiarize self with the stated objectives of the learning activity. The activity
may involve something hands on, interactive with other learners, or using some
form of learning materials including audio visual or electronic.
2. Make a personal judgment as to whether or not the objective(s) stipulate where
the activity is taking the learners. Does it indicate how it is going to take the
learners there?
3. Ask yourself questions such as:
a. Is the instructional objective taking me to a place where I want to go or
need to go?[(Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development]
b. Is the instructional objective going to challenge me cognitively?[(Bloom’s
Cognitive Taxonomy].
4. Given responses to the two questions above, what should you do? How should
you proceed? In itself this could be a venture into a meta cognitive process.
For the purposes of this exercise we will conclude that you, as the learner, have
decided to move ahead. That being the case the next step is to analyze each objective.
For example, consider the objectives in the accompanying table. They are taken from
Robert Tauber, Classroom Management – Sound Theory and Effective Practice. The
action words in the list of objectives and the number of times each action verb is used
are: classify -1, identify – 2, explain – 4, name -1, defend – 1, and explain -1.
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Tauber, CM – Sound Theory & Effective Practice, Chapter 7 Objectives:
William Glasser’s Reality Therapy
1. Classify, using the theoretical framework presented in Chapter 2, William
Glasser’s Reality Therapy, Choice Theory and Quality Schools model
2. Identify the steps in reality therapy
3. Identify the elements necessary for the school to be seen as a good place
4. Explain how classroom rules should be formed
5. Explain the concept of choice theory
6. Name the basic human needs as identified by Glasser
7. Explain how these basic human needs can be used as a basis for motivating
students
8. Defend how learning is the key to meeting all human needs
9. Explain the concept of quality schools
10. Explore whether Glasser’s Reality Therapy, Choice Therapy, and Quality
Schools model is for you.
A conclusion that can be drawn from this cursory analysis is that the basic intention
of Tauber is to provide a low order cognitive consideration of William Glasser’s Reality
Therapy, Choice Therapy, and Quality Schools. In addition the author does provide
information so that the learner can engage in higher order cognitive activities such as:
1. Classify Glasser’s concept within the spectrum of other approaches to discipline,
behavior and CM.
2. Defend Glasser’s notion that learning is the key to meeting all human needs.
3. Explore the feasibility of applying Glasser’s theory to the learners own practice.
Through this process of analyzing the instructional objective the learner can conclude to
what extent the learning activity will address the two questions asked above.
A reality in the process of education is that not always do educators preface a learning
activity with criterion based and referenced instructional objectives. Frequently these
factors are not included at all.
Tauber does not fall into this category. Each chapter is prefaced with objectives written
consistent with recognized criteria. He stands as an example of how instructional
objectives can serve as a tool in learning.3
1 Bloom’s six cognitive domain categories are: Knowledge (I prefer to use the term Information),
Comprehension, Analysis (Compare and Contrast), Synthesis, Evaluation, and Application).
2 Richard Bach has authored many inspirational books including Jonathon Livingston Seagull.
3 Other examples of the application of instructional objectives as tools in learning are
those found in the various syllabi of Creedon courses. In these the connection is made
between instructional objectives and rubrics.
Ipse dixit
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Lawrence P. Creedon
Pompano Beach, Florida
April 2003