To the Editor:
I agree with Thomas Guskey that it is time to end the debate between obedience and critical thinking in education (“Should Curriculum Teach Students to Obey or to Improve Society?,” April 24, 2023). In an opinion blog post, Guskey reflected on how educators Ralph Tyler and Benjamin Bloom shaped our understanding of “curriculum.” Upon reflection, I realized that Guskey, Tyler, and Bloom all seem to share the view that curriculum is essentially a list of bureaucratic requirements for students and teachers. But what about accounting for the hidden curriculum that affects their teaching-learning environment?
Educated citizens preserve the elements of our society that serve us well and work to transform or destroy elements that are causing harm. The primary challenge in schools today is transforming or destroying the dehumanizing school bureaucracy that we inherited from our ancestors. Bureaucracy is, by definition, dehumanizing. Therefore, we are on the wrong track if we are merely trying to make that bureaucracy work better.
If we are truly dedicated to preparing learners to develop skills such as analysis, innovation, and adaptation to address society’s issues effectively, we must look beyond academic bookkeeping such as grades, test scores, diplomas, etc. We need to redefine “curriculum” by taking into account not just classroom activities but also the social structures used when making decisions around student engagement within educational institutions. Only then will children be properly served.
While it is important to have a certain level of structure and guidance in the learning process, we must not forget that the primary goal of education is to engage students with reality. The reality our children face requires of them a lot more than a mastery of academics.
Deeper Learning Advocates
West Linn, Ore.
A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 2023 edition of Education Week as Curriculum Is More Than Academic Requirements