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The Sabertooth Curriculum
Transcript of The Sabertooth Curriculum
A student who transfers "uses knowledge appropriately and fruitfully in a new or different context from that in which it was initially learned" (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 352).
Through seven short and satirical stories, Peddiwell portrays the evolution of a caveman civilization’s educational system to metaphorically illustrate the history of education and create opportunities for reflection and questioning of our educational system.
Goal of Education in the
21st Century Society
Goal of Education in Peddiwell's Caveman Society
J. Abner Peddiwell
"If I could only get these
children to do the
things that will give more and
better food, shelter, clothing, and
security" thought New-Fist, "I
would be helping this tribe to
have a better life"
(Peddiwell, 2004, p. 28).
One of the aims of education is to produce citizens who can positively contribute to society. Curriculum has been written in response to the needs of a society.
Common Core State Standards
Ensuring that every student graduates ready to succeed in college, career, and life.
Plan Learning Experiences
Determine Acceptable Evidence
Identify Desired Results
As a basis for his Backwards Design, New Fist pondered the desired results of The Saber-tooth Curriculum. He determined his tribe would have a better life if the students learned the skills necessary to have more to eat, more skins to keep them warm, better caves to sleep in, and less dangers in their environment (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 28).
You Should Read this Book if You:
enjoy reading humorous yet accurate depictions of education and its trials and tribulations.
have ever questioned education and its practices and aims.
have wondered why education remains unchanging even though the needs of society continues to change.
are interested in the reasons behind the norms and procedures that are deeply held by education.
want a quick and enjoyable read that relates to teaching and learning.
Designing curriculum "that begins with the end in mind and designs toward that end" (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 18 & 338).
To determine acceptable evidence, Stage 2 of Backwards Design, New Fist asked himself "What things must we tribesmen know how to do to live with full bellies, warm backs, and minds free of fear?" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 28).
Peddiwell, 2004, p. 27
In Peddiwell's caveman civilization, the needs of society revolved around survival and continuation of the tribe.
In today's society, curriculum aims to prepare students to be competitive participants in the 21st century global economy and beyond.
The Evolution of Education
and the History of Curriculum
So logical, even cavemen did it!
Students were taught skills - fish grabbing, wholly horse clubbing, and saber-tooth tiger scaring with fire - in school that were integral to their own survival as well as the survival of the tribe as a whole. The skills were directly transferable to their lives as children and as adults.
"In due time everybody who was anybody in the community knew that the heart of good education lay in the three subjects of fish grabbing, horse-clubbing, and tiger-scaring...until at last all the children of the tribe were practiced systematically in the three fundamentals" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 33).
Thus, the goals of education began to be questioned and educational reforms proposed to better meet the changing needs of society...
"It is to be supposed that all would have gone well forever with this good educational system if conditions in the community had remained forever the same" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 33).
However, the arrival of a great glacier dirtied the waters and made bare handed fish catching impossible, the wholly-horses couldn't be clubbed because they migrated to drier areas, and the saber-tooth tigers were no longer a threat as they succumbed to pneumonia.
Educational reforms throughout history
have led to the
Initially, children engaged in practicing bare handed fish grabbing, wholly-horse clubbing, and saber-tooth tiger scaring.
Learning experiences and instruction evolved as the needs and beliefs of the caveman civilization changed.
With the extinction of these skills tribesmen forgot what they were taught in school "and began to think in direct and radical fashion" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 39). They began experimenting with fish-net making, tree vine antelope snaring, and hidden deep pit bear trapping. However, learning practices were not changed because "education is timeless. It is something that endures through changing conditions...You must know that there are some eternal verities, and the saber-tooth curriculum is one of them!" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 44).
Eventually, the "artificial character of school learning" was considered and students began learning through less "teacher interference or domination" and in real world context. Thus, the Real-Creek School of Fish Grabbing, the School of Creative Fish-Grabbing, and the Real-Tiger School were born (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 58).
Facets of Understanding
The Saber-tooth Curriculum suffered from the inclusion of all Six Facets of Understanding. The caveman civilization lacked the perspective and self-knowledge to see the big picture through critical eyes even though radicals suggested that the tribe had "to admit that times have changed. Couldn't you please try these other more-up-to-date activities? Maybe they have some educational value?" (Peddiwell, 2004, p. 43). Instead, the wise old men insisted on the teaching of outdated skills that impeded the civilization's learning and understanding.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design, 2nd ed.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Peddiwell, J. A. (2004). The saber-tooth curriculum, Classic ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.