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«What Is Curriculum Theory? STUDIES IN CURRICULUM THEORY William F. Pinar, Series Editor Pinar · What Is Curriculum Theory? McKnight · Schooling, ...»

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What Is Curriculum Theory?

STUDIES IN CURRICULUM THEORY

William F. Pinar, Series Editor

Pinar · What Is Curriculum Theory?

McKnight · Schooling, The Puritan Imperative, and the Molding of an

American National Identity: Education’s “Errand Into the Wilderness”

Pinar (Ed.) · International Handbook of Curriculum Research

Morris · Curriculum and the Holocaust: Competing Sites of Memory and

Representation

Doll · Like Letters in Running Water: A Mythopoetics of Curriculum Joseph/Bravmann/Windschitl/Mikel/Green · Cultures of Curriculum

Westbury/Hopmann/Riquarts (Eds.) · Teaching as a Reflective Practice:

The German Didaktik Tradition Reid · Curriculum as Institution and Practice: Essays in the Deliberative Tradition Pinar (Ed.) · Queer Theory in Education Huebner · The Lure of the Transcendent: Collected Essays by Dwayne E. Huebner. Edited by Vikki Hillis. Collected and Introduced by William F. Pinar jagodzinski · Postmodern Dilemmas: Outrageous Essays in Art & Art Education jagodzinski · Pun(k) Deconstruction: Experifigural Writings in Art & Art Education What Is Curriculum Theory?

William F. Pinar Louisiana State University

LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOCIATES, PUBLISHERS

2004 Mahwah, New Jersey London This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2008.

“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.” Copyright © 2004 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by photostat, microform, retrieval system, or any other means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers 10 Industrial Avenue Mahwah, New Jersey 07430 Cover design by Sean Sciarrone Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pinar, William.

What is curriculum theory? / William F. Pinar.

p. cm. — (Studies in curriculum theory) Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-8058-4827-4 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 0-8058-4828-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Education—Curricula—United States. 2. Education—Political aspects—United States.

I. Title. II. Series.

LB1570.P552 2004 375'.0001—dc22 2003060375 CIP ISBN 1-4106-0979-0 Master e-book ISBN For Mary and Marla Contents Preface xi Introduction 1

PART I: THE NIGHTMARE THAT IS THE PRESENT

1 The Miseducation of the American Publ

–  –  –

Especially during this time when the academic field of education is under savage attack by politicians, it is incumbent upon us to maintain our professional dignity by reasserting our commitment to the intellectual life of our field. Such a reassertion of our intellectual commitment includes, perhaps most of all, the study and teaching of curriculum theory and history. Such study enables us to understand this terrible time and our positions in it.

Our situation is not very different from that of our colleagues in the public schools. Having lost control of the curriculum, public-school teachers have been reduced to domestic workers, instructed by politicians to clean up the “mess” left by politics, culture, and history. That is an impossible job, of course, and politicians have seized upon its impossibility to deflect their constituents’ attention away from the mess they’ve been making of the American nation.

We education professors who work with public-school teachers are being scapegoated as well (see chap. 9). The courses we teach are “hurdles,” according to the U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, tripping up hoards of talented college graduates who would otherwise enter the teaching profession.

Moreover, there is, we are told, “empirical” research that demonstrates that teachers who have been spared education coursework are more successful (than teachers who have not) in raising their students’ test scores. This “business” model of education—the “bottom line” (standardized test scores) is all that matters—is now enforced by federal legislation and by presumably professional organizations like the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE; see chap. 9, Sections II and III). We education professors are losing—have lost?—control of the curriculum we teach.

xi

xii PREFACE

In this primer for teachers (prospective and practicing), I offer an interpretation of the nightmare that is the present. Our nightmare began in the 1950s, when gendered anxieties over the Cold War and racialized anxieties over school desegregation coded public education (not for the first time) as “feminized” and “black.” The vicious character of politicians’ and many parents’ criticisms of public education is intelligible only as a recoding of these gendered and racialized anxieties, “deferred and displaced” from the originary events onto “school reform” (see chap. 2).

While the origins of our present political difficulties began with the exploitation of public education as a Presidential campaign issue in 1960 by a liberal Democratic candidate, subsequent exploitations have been made by candidates mostly on the right (see chap. 3). What is at stake in right-wing reform—which has converted the school into a business, focused on the “bottom line” (test scores) —is control of the curriculum, what teachers are permitted to teach, what children are permitted to study. At least from the 1960s, the right-wing in the United States has appreciated that its political ascendancy depends on controlling how and what Americans think.





And “conservatives”—especially in the mid-West and far West—have appreciated that the white South is key to Republican electoral success (see chap. 4). That fact first became clear in the 1964 Presidential campaign. The Democratic candidate who defeated Republican nominee Barry Goldwater—President Lyndon B. Johnson—understood that he was handing over the white South to an increasingly right-wing Republican Party when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (see chap. 10). We teachers—in the university, in the public schools—cannot understand our present circumstances apart from appreciating how the American nation has “gone South.” Understanding the American South is a prerequisite to any effort to reconstruct public education in the United States. Understanding the white South (and its reactionary racial and gender politics, of which school reform is a “deferred and displaced” expression) requires understanding its history. In chapter 4 we glimpse a telling and still reverberating event in that racialized and gendered history: lynching. One hundred years ago, lynching was “America’s National Crime.” The centrality of castration to the lynching event underscores that racial politics and violence in this country have been— still are—simultaneously a sexual politics. (The widespread white rape of black female slaves established the fact that racial domination is sexualized.) It is no accident that striking sanitation workers in spring 1968—the same strike that took Martin Luther King, Jr., to Memphis—carried signs saying simply: I AM A MAN. Of course, that sentence means “I am a human being,” and it means “I am a citizen.” But striking sanitation workers did not choose those categories; instead, these black men chose a gendered term. The politics of school reform is intelligible only in gendered and racialized terms (see chap. 3).

xiii PREFACE Not only history presses down upon us, so does the future, fantasized as technological and “information-based” (see chaps. 5 and 6). If only we place computers in every classroom, if only school children stare at screens (rather than at teachers, evidently) they can “learn,” become “competitive” in the “new millennium.” Information is not knowledge, of course, and without ethical and intellectual judgment—which cannot be programmed into a machine—the Age of Information is an Age of Ignorance.

We—schoolteachers and education professors—have not survived the last 40 years of school (de)form without scars, perhaps the most prominent of which is an internalized anti-intellectualism (see chap. 7). I cannot ascribe the anti-intellectualism of the field solely to post-1960s events; there is a history of anti-intellectual vocationalism within the scholarly field of education.

There are (hardly unrelated) general anti-intellectual tendencies in the American national character which have functioned historically to restrict academic—intellectual—freedom in the schools. Education professors’ struggles have hardly been helped by the prejudice we too often face from Arts and Sciences colleagues. Moreover, education professors’ troubled “marriage” to public-school teachers contributes to the closure of “complicated conversation,” as the gendered and racialized domestication of education has rendered the classroom not a public space for complicated, sometimes contentious, conversation in which the public and private spheres are connected and reconstructed through academic knowledge. Rather, right-wing reform has rendered the classroom a privatized or domestic sphere in which children and their teachers are, simply, to do what they are told. It is a feminized and racialized domestic sphere politicians—mostly (white) men—are determined to control, disguised by apparently commonsensical claims of “accountability.” “Complicated conversation” is the central concept in contemporary curriculum studies in the United States. It is, I argue (in chap. 8), the idea that keeps hope alive, enabling us to have faith in a future in which we—both education professors and public-school teachers—determine the curriculum, both in the university and in the public schools. Teachers’ intellectual determination of the curriculum—which necessarily includes choosing the means by which we assess students’ study—is one key meaning of the phrase “academic freedom.” Academic—intellectual—freedom is the prerequisite to the very possibility of education. Education is too important to be left to politicians and those parents who believe them.

What can we do? First, we must understand our situations, both as individuals and as a group. For the sake of such understanding, I employ the concept of currere—the Latin infinitive of curriculum—to denote the running (or lived experience) of the course, in this instance, the present historical situation. This autobiographical method provides a strategy for self-study, one phase of which seeks synthetical moments of “mobilization” when, as individuals and as teachers, we enter “the arena” to educate the American public.

xiv PREFACE

That arena (the public sphere)—now a “shopping mall” in which citizens (and students) have been reduced to consumers—can be reconstructed in our classrooms by connecting academic knowledge to our students’ (and our own) subjectivities, to society, and to the historical moment. In so doing, we can regain (relative) control of the curriculum, at least as it is enacted as a “complicated conversation,” rather than reified as conceptual products on display in a store window, or in the small-group facilitation of “learning” in the school-as-corporate office (chap. 1).

The struggle to educate the American public—that is, of course, the project of “public education”—requires us to teach not only our students, but their parents, our neighbors, anyone who will listen. Teacher unions could become useful by funding a national television campaign—featuring, perhaps, movie and athletic icons to attract viewers’ attention—explaining (for starters) that education is not a business. By whatever means, we must continue teaching after the bell rings and students depart our classrooms. We must renew our commitment to our own intellectual lives and to the educational reconstruction of the public sphere in America (chap. 10).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to express my gratitude to my friend and colleague Bill Doll, who in the late 1980s, brought to my attention Richard Rorty’s theorization of “conversation.” I wish to thank Donna Trueit, who introduced me to Michael Oakeshott’s book on conversation, Brian Casemore for drawing my attention to Kaja Silverman’s World Spectators, Margaret Zaccone, who sent me Daniel Noah Moses’ “Distinguishing a University from a Shopping Mall,” and Renee Fountain, who recommended Ewa Plonowska Ziarek’s An Ethics of Dissensus. My thanks as well to Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, without whose research and editorial assistance the publication of the book would have been delayed by months. My thanks to Chris Myers for permitting me to draw upon The Gender of Racial Politics and Violence in America for sections of chapters 1, 4, 9, and 10. Thanks, too, to Elizabeth Ellsworth for reviewing the section on her work. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers, whose comments and criticisms resulted in a revised manuscript. My thanks especially to Naomi Silverman, my friend as well as editor, without whose critique and encouragement the book may not have appeared at all.

–  –  –

This book is no comprehensive introduction to curriculum studies, as Understanding Curriculum (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery and Taubman 1995) attempted to be. Although the book contains no systematic review of the scholarship in the field, serious students of the field will hear echoes of others’ work on nearly every page. Indeed, I quote much more than the customs of scholarship deem prudent, precisely in order to make audible the voices of others, to underscore the fact that the field is no solo performance. Curriculum theory is a complex, sometimes cacophonous, chorus, “the sound of silence breaking” (Miller in press).

Because my academic discipline is education, my work as a scholar and theoretician is structured pedagogically. In my performance of a classroom

2 INTRODUCTION



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