From the evaluation of Ideologies to the matter of teaching the truth.
There are 4 primary Curriculum Ideologies: Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner-Centered, and Social Reconstruction. Which is the best? We can see countless debates on the best Curriculum. In this piece, I would like to identify top purposes for education in my milieu of Spiritual Intelligence Development, then use these purposes to evaluate 4 Curriculum Ideologies.
My 3 top purposes for education
I believed that as a human, we are entitled to learn for our own lives, not for anyone’s purpose. Thus, 3 top purposes for education in my milieu are to help each individual achieve:
- The growth of Spiritual Intelligence: “Spiritual intelligence emerges as consciousness evolves into an ever-deepening awareness of the matter, life, body, mind, soul, and spirit. It can help a person distinguish reality from illusion, and may be expressed in any culture as love, wisdom, and service” (Vaughan, 2002, p. 20). With high spiritual Intelligence, a learner can connect his/ her self-interest with social interest and master their whole lives.
- The ability of self-initiated learning from their real-life: the learners acknowledge that life is a great school, and anything is their lesson, anyone is their teacher to help them achieve their goals / pursue their happiness.
- The life of a human being: the learners can enjoy the life of freedom regardless of circumstance. When facing difficulties and challenges, they are not affected by prejudices and conditions, yet they design solutions for their own lives in a flexible way.
My brief evaluation of the primary Curriculum Ideologies
Using these purposes to evaluate Shiro’s 4 Curriculum Ideologies, I have some comments on each ideology as below:
The Scholar Academic Ideology:
Although, the purpose of this ideology, in common with my first purpose about growing spiritual intelligence, is “to help children learn the accumulated knowledge of our culture” (p. 4); the underlying opinions are completely different from mine.
For example, Scholar Academic Ideology’s view is that the authority of the truth belongs to a group of people and the students learn such ready-to-accept truth. “The hierarchical communities consist of inquirers into the truth (the scholars at the top of the hierarchy), teachers of the truth (those who disseminate the truth that has been discovered by the scholars), and learners of the truth (students whose job it is to learn the truth so that they may become proficient members of the discipline)” (p. 4).
In my opinion, no one has the authority to decide what the truth is, so scholars’ knowledge is just a reliable source of information. Hence, all resources are for reference only, leave it to every learner to discover the truth by themselves.
The Social Efficiency Ideology:
This ideology is completely different from my beliefs about the purposes of education.
“Social Efficiency advocates believe that the purpose of schooling is to efficiently meet the needs of society by training youth to function as future mature contributing members of society”. (p. 5).
I think this seemingly implies that the objective of education is to transform humans into slaves, like artificial intelligence machines and humanoid robots.
Moreover, the comment, “Central to Social Efficiency conceptions of scientific procedure is the assumption that change in human behavior (that is, learning) takes place within a fairly direct cause-effect, action-reaction, or stimulus-response context” (p. 5), indirectly denies the power of choice inside each human being
The Social Reconstruction Ideology:
With the purpose of education is “to facilitate the construction of a new and more just society that offers maximum satisfaction to all of its members” (p. 6), this ideology slightly resonates with my point of view about the role of social construction, which serves the happiness of every individual.
However, their assumptions about the status quo and their perspective of society-should-become create a suitable curriculum that will limit the power of humans.
On what grounds can a group of people ensure their envisioned future is the best for everyone?
The Learner-Centered Ideology:
This apparently aligns best with my perspective. “They believe schools should be enjoyable places where people develop naturally according to their own innate nature. The goal of education is the growth of individuals, each in harmony with his or her own unique intellectual, social, emotional, and physical attributes” (p. 5).
I strongly believe that a good society or an effective labor force is simply the sequel to many good individuals. If every person can discover and live with his/her true self, there will be a wonderful harmony for our society.
From my concern about the Learner-Centered Ideology…
The key concepts of the Learner-Centered Ideology are being applied quite well in my milieu. I empower learners in most of the activities such as consulting them to set learning goals and creating an open environment where they can select topics and express themselves. I also support them in self-evaluation and even change the instruction plan according to their status.
The Learner-Centered way not only promotes the authentic transformation from within the learners but also cultivates their love of learning.
However, based on my experience, one of the most important things to keep in mind when applying this ideology is the matter of the truth.
What is the truth?
Is there the truth for everyone?
Can we know the truth?
Should we rely on the truth?
How do we know if our consciousness is consistent with the truth?
If we cannot answer these questions, learners may go into a path of self-deception and develop their egos instead of cultivating their true selves. As we can see, where self-deception and ego development appear, suffering arises.
To the matter of the truth
When I shared my above concern, another teacher told me about her story of teaching and learning about history.
She said, “Truth. we teach our kid’s knowledge that was taught to us. From books that were written by others that are used as facts. Then when we grow up, we (well some of us) realize that most of what was taught to us was a lie. We say, “History is written by the victors.” So when we teach our classes, whose truth are we telling? In China, their truth is what is taught by their government, (as is every nation, but more strict) and when they travel abroad and confronted with “our” truth, some don’t know how to handle it well. Even in America, there are many right-wing Republicans who do not accept the truths of the world. So it’s interesting when you talk about truth because how do youth, or even adults, know which truth is actually true. As humans, we are always learning from how surroundings, and sometimes our surroundings help shape our personal truths. So, if you had to give someone advice about finding their truth, what would it be?” (“personal discussion”, May 2019)
Well, this is the key question! ‘Truth’ is a complicated term, so in this room of education, I just share my relevant opinions briefly.
Before jumping to discuss, I would like to clarify the meaning of the word ‘truth’ using in this context, according to www.macmillandictionary.com, the actual facts or information about something, rather than what people think, expect, or makeup.
In my point of view, in the educational context, there are 2 types of truth: (1) The first type is the truth which students can witness or behold; (2) The second type is the truth which students can not witness or behold.
The example of history lessons is the second type because they can not witness what has already happened.
Therefore, as a teacher, I think we should:
With the first type (1), the truth which students can witness or behold:
The teacher must witness the truth by her/himself then guide students to discover the truth, not just explain the truth and force students to accept it.
Relevant to this, I would like to note that people can not witness all the truth about the outside world, but people can witness whatever happens in their inner world with a proper method. So, in the self-discovery area, I don’t support teaching students to accept and apply psychological theories or science results on themselves, they must take their inner adventure to see the truth.
With the second type (2), the truth which students can not witness or behold:
The teacher should help students to acknowledge that what they learn is just perceptions or ideas about the truth, and they can not know exactly whether it accords to the truth or not.
The only truth they can know is ‘that is our/their perception”.
Moreover, teachers encourage and guide students to approach closer to the truth by examining the perception, such as collecting reliable information, seeking the contradiction to solve. The result is not the truth but a less biased perception.
Besides, I think the first and foremost truth we need to discover is the truth about ourselves. Fortunately, this is the truth everybody can witness.
Relevance to this topic, I wrote the poem, Inner Witnessing. Enjoy your reading!
Schiro, M. S. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc. Retrieved from: https://talkcurriculum.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/schiro-m-2013-introduction-to-the-curriculum-ideologies.pdf
Vaughan, F. (2002). What is spiritual intelligence?. Journal of humanistic psychology, 42(2), 16–33. DOI: 10.1177/0022167802422003