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Philosophical Foundations of Curriculum

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Lindsey Parnell

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Philosophical Foundations of Curriculum

“Philosophy is central to curriculum. The philosophy of a particular school and its officials influences the goals, content, and organization of its curriculum.”

-Curriculum Foundations, Principles and Issues, p. 28
Education is formed based on the needs of a society which determines what values are important in the school. This helps to drive the philosophy of the curriculum worker. Philosophy is a set of beliefs held by the curriculum worker that provides a guide by which educational environments are organized. Learning these fundamental principles impacts all aspects of education. Every person that works developing or following a curriculum is influenced by their own personal experiences. When differences occur either the philosophy is modified or the curriculum stops.
How does philosophy influence curriculum workers?
What are the differences among idealism, realism, pragmatism and existentialism?
Idealism- This philosophy is known as the oldest and emphasizes the recall of knowledge and ideas. Idealism promoting a liberal arts curriculum by stressing the importance of the classics and subjects such as philosophy, theology, mathematics and language. An idealist appreciates conceptual ideas and the enduring search for truth.

Realism- Similar in tradition to idealism, this philosophy focuses more on general and abstract though. According to a realist, the main purpose for a human is to think. Therefore realism relies heavily on nature in terms of senses and reason. Science is stressed as rational and logical subject.

Pragmatism- This philosophy is a more contemporary one, rooted in the belief that knowledge, and thus our reality, is constantly changing. Pragmatists focus on critical thinking and appreciate the process to discover knowledge as everything must be tested and explored.

Existentialism- Also contemporary, this philosophy values individualism and self-fulfillment above all else. It states that people are free to chose and continually make choices. Authority is not seen as important, while the arts are stressed due to their characteristic of self expression.
What are the differences among perennialism, essentialsim, progressivism and reconstruction?
Perennialism- Regarded as the oldest and most conservative method, this philosophy is similar to realism in that human nature is constant and therefore curriculum and education must be subject centered. Perennialists highly regard the 3 R's and the goal to develop a rational human being by emphasizing liberal arts and character education in the curriculum. The teacher is the authority, testing is crucial and academic are held high.

Essentialism- This philosophy believes that educational goals are not obtained when schools focus more on social and psychological problems over academics and critical thinking. Essentialists are respected yet rigid and demand hard work through study and practice. Academics are emphasized over all else. This philosophy rewards teachers and holds students to higher standards, such as proficiency in communication.

Progressivism- Developed due to criticism over perennialism, this philosophy mirrors the historical and social progress in America around the turn of the 20th century. Progressivists stress both cooperation with others and self-discipline. Although the teacher is the leader, this philosophy stresses child centered learning over authoritative teaching. Ultimately Progressivists could not unite on a central belief which ultimately led to its downfall due to division within the group.

Reconstruction- Created by impatient progressivists, reconstructionism is not only child centered, but society centered as well. Reconstrcutionists want to make change and improve society, and schools must be this source. The curriculum focuses more on social sciences and examines problems in political and economic categories as well. Lastly, reconstructionists are sensitive to global issues and integrate them into the curriculum.
In what way is philosophy the main curriculum source?
"Philosophy is commonly one of five criteria used in selecting educational purposes" (page 30)

Before any new curriculum is introduced, there should be a philosophy as to why change is needed. For example, curriculum changed when No Child Left Behind was introduced. The driving force became an desire to bridge the gap between mainstream and exceptional child curriculum. Philosophy is the starting point in any curriculum decision making which clarifies and organizes goals, topics and means of implementation.
Kayla Day, Freda Lemay, Lindsey Parnell, Katrina Rose and Nicole Smith
Philosophical Foundations of Curriculum
Can schools promote equality and excellence at the same time?
There is an old adage that addresses this issue perfectly:.

"Fair isn't everybody getting the same thing. Fair is everybody getting what they need in order to be successful."

When considering equality, most tend to be believe that things need to be done the same in order to be equal. However this is not always the case. Students with a disabilities need additional accommodations to ensure success. These accommodations level the playing field and help to bring students to same starting line, despite outlying factors. By promoting excellence as the end result for all students and understanding that equality is fair, not always the same, schools can promote both simultaneously.
Reconstructionists want to work to reform the society in which they live. They are taught to question everything and everyone. Reconstructionalists are realistic in that they educate students on the problems in the world and look for ways to fix them. They are idealistic as everything cannot be fixed through research and education. Some things are beyond human control. Reconstructionists are radical in the ways that they approach curriculum. They only teach ways to solve problems in the world or society. They teach social sciences and “examination of social, economic, and political problems” and use their learned research skills to come up with ways to fix the problems. They also look at past problems to predict future problems. They are mainstream in that they want students to have an international education. There is a push in education to incorporate the outside world into the classroom.
In what ways are reconstructionists realistic & idealistic? Mainstream & radical?
Which philosophical orientation is likely to most influence the curriculum field in the future?
Several philosophical orientations may together influence the curriculum field in the future.

The internationalists subsection of reconstruction may influence curriculum in the future as it focuses on global issues. As technology continues to evolve, cultures will only grow closer to one another. We are an interdependent world that should educate students accordingly in order to ensure success in many career fields.

Also the back to basics movement of essentialism will continue to influence future curriculum as schools are focusing more on the basics and evaluating skills and knowledge with high stakes testing. Data driven testing will likely only continue to increase in the future placing a large emphasis on teaching and measuring basic concepts.
Which philosophical orientation appears most contrary to mainstream education?
Progressivism appears to be most contrary to mainstream education. Many components of this orientation have been criticized in recent years. Progressivists tend to rely too much on the child over the teacher. Although the child should have some autonomy, the teacher needs to be the ultimate authority regarding curriculum decisions. Teachers need to teach students how to think and reason, but that is not the only goal of education. There is a large emphasis on problem solving and the scientific method, while main sources of general knowledge are often discounted. Basic facts must be taught and textbooks should be evaluated for relevance, not thrown out completely.
Conclusion
Philosophy should be among the first building blocks in defining an education system and therefore influencing the curriculum. The philosophy or philosophies choose to guide one's vision of curriculum should be closely analyzed and views should be clearly stated. The philosophies of education and curriculum has evolved, reverted, and even disappeared, but one thing does remain: the need for a philosophy that is rooted in vision, appropriate for the population and supported by stakeholders.

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