Is Tradition Always Right?

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we were assigned to read an article about Curriculum theory and practice. This article went over four ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice, which are:

  1. Curriculum as syllabus to be transmitted
  2. Curriculum as product
  3. Curriculum as process
  4. Curriculum as praxis

In this blog, I will focus mainly on the approach that curriculum as product. This is a very traditionalist approach. This approach was greatly influenced by Ralph Tyler who was a behavioural psychologist. He developed the Tyler’s Rationale which is what the approach curriculum as product follows. There are four steps to Tyler’s Rationale, which are:

  1. Aims and objectives
  2. Content
  3. Organization of teaching and learning
  4. Evaluation and Assessment

The approach of curriculum as a product is one that has been used in schools for many years and it continues to be used in schools today. Often this approach does not give much room for children to be creative and is heavily reliant on testing.

Thinking back to when I was growing up, I can see that the Tyler Rationale effected my own schooling. When I was growing up, there was a heavy influence on the traditional core subjects of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies. There was not a huge push for me to do well on things such as the Arts or Language Classes. I remember that during elementary school, Art class would be pushed back if students were behind in their other subjects such as Math, Science, Social Studies, or English. I also remember there was a heavy push for students to do well on tests. In Science and Math, there was often a written test at the end of each unit and the major goal of each unit was to be able to know how to solve all of the problems that would show up on the test.

Most of my life growing up in schools, my main goal was to learn as much as I could and to do well on the test. I was the child that loved to see my page filled with check marks (I still do love to get questions and problems right, especially in math), but I also was able to teach my peers how I was able to get those right answers. I know that some students knew how to get to the right answers, but they did not know why they were getting the right answer. Tyler’s Rationale influenced those kids quite a lot because they figured out how to work the system; get the right answers on the test and it does not matter if you actually understand why you got to those answers; as long as the answers were correct, you were doing well.

I sometimes notice myself falling into this mindset in university trying to get through many of the classes that grades are determined heavily by (or completely) how well I do on a test. I often start to get into the bad habit of only learning for the test and learning how to get the correct answers for the test, sometimes without fully understanding why I am getting those answers. After I have taken the test, I have a hard time using the skills that were on the test because I did not learn them; instead I memorized them. If I really want to learn and remember a skill or topic, I need to take the time to actually learn it instead of memorizing it.

The Tyler Rationale has been used for many of years and is continued to be used in Canadian schools, but it has some disadvantages. The Tyler Rationale often only works for subjects that can be very test heavy, such as Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. but it does not work as well for subjects such as Art or Drama which require creativity. The Tyler Rationale does not take into consideration the context of a school either. It states that every school should be able to reach the same goals, regardless of the student’s ability, social class, race, English proficiency, etc. This approach limits the students’ voice in what they would like to learn and teachers must often teach students the information that will be on the test, and only that information (especially in the case of standardized testing).

The Tyler Rationale does have some benefits. This approach to curriculum ensure that all students in a province or region should be learning the same thing. This approach ensures that all students regardless of their location, rural or urban, will be learning the same content and should be able to reach the required curricula outcomes that the province outlines if they pass the course. This approach also ensures that students that are doing well in many of the test heavy courses know how they should study for and cope with the stress of taking tests. This approach prepares students to enter universities and other post-secondary institutions that are very exam heavy when it comes to marking.

The Tyler Rationale has influenced many schools and their curriculum for many years. This approach to curriculum will not benefit every student and not every student will be able to learn about a topic through it. This approach will work for some students and some students will thrive with this type of structure, but this is not the case for a vast majority of students. Many students have difficulty taking tests and demonstrating their learning through this approach. Many students will not remember the information that they have learned simply to pass a test. The Tyler Rationale has been used for many years to create curriculum, but is it really the best approach going forward? If not, what should be changed?

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

One thought on “Is Tradition Always Right?

  1. Hi Ashley,
    The Tyler rationale was used in a similar sense in my school. I also felt that a lot of pressure was put onto the subjects of Math, English, Social Studies and Science and Art, Music and Phys-Ed were all not only taught less but were regarded as less important. I think the Tyler rationale helps certain students and does provide benefits but it does not work as well for all students, like you mentioned.
    Thanks for sharing,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s