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

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Common Sense – Is it Really that Common?

Hello everyone!

I just started ECS 210 this week and we had our first reading assigned. This week, we were assigned to do a reading about the problem of common sense.

This article was something different for me to read. I have never thought critically about common sense before. Often, without thought, I take common sense for granted since it typically favours me in a positive sense due to my privileges as a white, educated, middle-class person in Canada. This article explored common sense in schools and some of the ways that it is often oppressive.

The author of this article, Kumashiro, defines ‘common sense’ with regards to schooling as something that limits what is considered consistent with the purpose of schooling. Kumashiro also defines ‘common sense’ as something that tells people the exclusive list of things that schools should be doing.

Kumashiro made quite a lot of good points in their article. The biggest statement that they made in their article is that “common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined or challenged”. I found this really stood out to me because they also mentioned that common sense can be, and often is, oppressive. I have never thought about common sense as oppressive before, but taking a deeper look at common sense, especially in a schooling sense, it can be extremely oppressive for many different people.

Common sense is not something that people are directly taught in most cases. Common sense are ideas that people pick up throughout their lives. Common sense is not the same in every country, province, city, or region. Common sense is something that teachers must be aware of. Something that could be thought of as common sense can be oppressive to people. For example, the common sense that all children above the age of five or six should be able to write their name with a pencil on paper in English can be oppressive. Students that are new immigrants to Canada that are well older than five or six might not be able to write their name in English and might feel that they are less than their peers if they need extra assistance.

Educators, including myself, must be aware of what things are thought of as ‘common sense’ and how these ideas will affect their students. Educators must understand that common sense is often created by the dominant group of society that have the privilege to create the narrative for the ‘norms’ of society. Teachers must challenge the norms that students are expected to learn and memorize as ‘common sense’. This is not an easy task.

Challenging the norms of a dominant white society will be a challenging task for me. I have never had to think about common sense before because I was never oppressed in ways that really stood out to me as a child. I might have felt the odd frustration due to being pushed into a specific box due to my gender or academic abilities, but this was not something that was at the front of my mind daily.

Common sense is something that many people in the world take for granted. As a future educator, it is important that I look at the influences that common sense has on my students and those around me. Growing up, ‘common sense’ often stated that since I was good academically that I would be terrible at sports. I did not often fit into this box and I was quite frustrated when teachers, my peers, or their parents would put me into this box. I found myself often trying to prove that I could do both. Were there any ‘common sense’ ideas that you did not fit into as a child or even as an adult?

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please respond to my question, if you feel comfortable sharing, in the comments below!

Ashley Osachoff