Table Of Content
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Aesthetic curriculum concepts
- Chapter 3: Spiritual curriculum concepts
- Chapter 4: Cosmopolitan curriculum concepts
- Chapter 5: Ecological curriculum concepts
- Chapter 6: Cultural studies curriculum concepts
- Chapter 7: Postcolonial curriculum concepts
- Chapter 8: Poststructural curriculum concepts
- Chapter 9: Psychoanalytic curriculum concepts
- Series index
Special thanks to Chris Myers, who was there for me all along the way. To Shirley Steinberg, who has always believed in my work. To William F. Pinar, who always inspires me. To John Weaver, my friend and colleague. To Naomi Rucker, who listened to me hours on end about the progress of the book. To the late Dennis Carlson, who generously gave much time to read both volumes and make helpful comments along the way. To the reviewers who made my work stronger. To the copy editor who helped in the final stages of the book. ← ix | x →
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This book is the second volume of Curriculum Studies Guidebooks: Concepts and Theoretical Frameworks. This book is an introduction to current curricular issues that students of education, curriculum studies scholars, educationists, teachers, and policymakers might find useful when trying to understand the current field of curriculum studies.
In the first volume of the Guidebooks I explore curriculum studies in the interstices of history, politics, multiculturalism, gender, and literature. In this volume, I examine curriculum studies in the interstices of aesthetics, spirituality, cosmopolitanism, ecology, cultural studies, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, and psychoanalytic theory. Many of these theoretical frameworks were in their early stages or were hinted at in Pinar et al. (1995). Today these frameworks have emerged in new ways, which is what I explore in these Guidebooks. At the close of this introduction I offer brief outlines of the chapters.
A Debt of Gratitude
Alberto Manguel (2015) says, “There are always models for any new literary [or curriculum studies] venture” (p. 20). Indeed, there are many models of current curriculum studies scholarship. There are many schools of thought about ← 1 | 2 → what curriculum studies means. These Guidebooks are written in the tradition of the reconceptualization that began in the early 1970s. Today, though, curriculum studies scholarship has moved into what is dubbed the (post)reconceptualization. The field has moved and changed over the years but the basic structure of the field has not changed. There is continuity between what was done in the 1970s and what is going on today in the field. And, too, there are differences in the field; there are new models—or what I would call “theoretical frameworks”—that have emerged since the 1970s.
I would like to say a word of thanks to others who have paved the way for scholars to do curriculum work in new ways. Books are not written in a vacuum. Other curricularists have certainly influenced my work. I owe a debt of gratitude to Connelly, He, and Phillon (2008); Flinders and Thornton (2004); J. Dan Marshall et al. (2007); Schubert et al. (2002); Kridel (2010) and Pinar et al. (1995). All of these scholars have opened up what I call vistas-of-curriculum that make it possible to think about the field of curriculum studies differently. All of these scholars have advanced the field significantly.
Although indebted to many of the scholars above, the organization and structure of both Guidebooks were most influenced by Pinar et al. (1995). With the exception of poststructuralism and aesthetics, the theoretical frameworks I examine in this Guidebook were either hinted at in Pinar et al. (1995) or are new to the field of curriculum studies. In this Guidebook I explore different concepts, different content, and, in my writing, I take a different approach to any of the books I mention above.
Ben Yagoda (2005) comments,
Critic Roman Jakobson said that language has two basic functions: the communicative and the poetic. Strictly communicative writing includes business memos, instruction manuals, news articles, college textbooks. (p. 166).
I must make clear from the outset that this college textbook is not written in a “communicative” style. The communicative style is the style of no style. On the other hand, this college textbook is not written in a poetic style either. I am not a poet. However, my style is closer to poetics than a communicative style. As much of my background comes out of the humanities, I write more ← 2 | 3 → like a humanities scholar than a social scientist. I am interested in issues of voice, the process of writing, and style much as a fiction writer might be. Unlike creative writers (i.e., poets, novelists, playwrights), many academics—especially if they are social scientists who are not curriculum theorists—are not much interested in developing voice, pay little attention to the process of writing, and have little interest in developing style.
Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall (1994) contend
Nobody but you has your voice. Yet voice isn’t unchanging, nor is it a static, precious commodity. It’s always shifting in response to an immediate moment, an intention, an audience. Just as you aren’t a static, singular entity, neither is your voice. (p. 6)
Both Guidebooks were written over a very long period of time. These books took years to complete. And during those years my life changed. My interests changed. I changed as a person. And more than likely—in my writing—my voice changed over time. I do think that much of our work as scholars is driven by the unconscious. And, at bottom, it is the unconscious that drives the writing. Voice, therefore, is mostly unconscious.
Wendy Lesser (2014) contends, “The good writer remains vitally present in every line he [sic] writes, and even when the mortal author dies, the voice on the page is still alive with that individuality” (p. 92). For many academics the scholar’s voice remains absent. Much conservative scholarship sounds like it has been written by a computer or a machine. There is no trace of the author to be found. But most poststructural scholars do, indeed, take the concept of voice seriously. Jacques Derrida and Michel Serres, for example, take voice seriously. Each has a distinct voice that is immediately recognizable. Like artists, these scholars craft their texts in such a way that their voices are heard. Michael Collier (2007) tells us
We believe that voice develops, that it’s a product of maturation, but we also believe that it involves listening to something inside of us that’s unique. It’s also supposed to have the quality of a signature and we don’t quite know what that is until we see or hear it. Voice contains tone and mood. In other words, it comprises an atmosphere. (p. 142)
It is important to note that Collier is a poet. These ideas that he talks about above are important not only to poets but to all artists and academics. In order to be discovered or to get published, artists have to develop their own voice or signature. I think that scholars, too, need to develop their own voices and signatures. But this isn’t the way most academics think. Perhaps these concerns are ← 3 | 4 → generational. Older generations of scholars were taught to write in the formal “we,” never to use “I,” and never insert personality into the text. I think for my generation things are very different. Conversational tone, personal narrative, and autobiographical reflections are encouraged—but still risky. In curriculum studies, William Pinar—who introduced autobiography to the field—changed the way curriculum scholars do their work. He opened the door to all kinds of writing, including autobiographical and personal narrative.
In contradistinction to an autobiographical style, more conservative scholars report, argue, and are absent in the text—especially if they are writing handbooks, research reports, grants, and even, yes, guidebooks. My Guidebooks are not written in this fashion. These books are not encyclopedias or research reports. My Guidebooks are explorations, adventures. The concepts explored in these books are experimental, open ended, and dialogic. Throughout the books, I think, my voice is evident.
The Process of Writing
Many academics do not think much about the process of writing. They simply write, not giving writing a thought. But I think about the process of writing all the time because it is a subject that I find engaging. There was a process to writing these Guidebooks. I think the process is as important to discuss as the final product. Annie Dillard (2013) says, “Every book has an intrinsic impossibility” (p. 72). This impossibility has to do with the process of writing. Students are often told by their mentors to write about what they know. But knowledge—on the part of the individual—is limited. One simply cannot know everything! The impossibility of these Guidebooks turned on stretching my knowledge base beyond what is seemingly possible. That is part of the reason that it took me years to finish these books. My studies took me to new lands, open horizons where I encountered difficulties and challenges. Nonetheless, I took on the challenge and what a challenge it was.
The chapters went through numerous revisions. William Zinsser (1985) tells us, “Rewriting is the essence of writing. I pointed out that professional writers rewrite their sentences repeatedly and then rewrite what they have rewritten” (p. 4). I do not know exactly how many times I revised my work. There were many, many rewrites. In some cases entire chapters were thrown out and completely rewritten from different angles. Clearly, these were the hardest books I have ever written. ← 4 | 5 →
Part of the difficulty of writing academic books has to do with the use of citations. As William Pinar says, “We work from the work of others” (personal communication). In other words, scholars work from citations. There is a certain rhythm to using citations. However, it is not enough to merely cite other scholars. One has to do something with the citations. Scholars must make the work their own by advancing the discussion. Sometimes I felt it was necessary to use more citations in some chapters than in others because the subject matter was so difficult to comprehend.
As I worked my way through the chapters for final edits, I cut huge amounts of material that I thought was not needed. Francine Prose (2007) explains
For any writer, the ability to look at a sentence and see what’s superfluous, what can be altered, revised, expanded, and, especially, cut is essential. It’s satisfying to see that sentence shrink, snap into place, and ultimately emerge in a more polished form: clear, economical, sharp. (p. 2)
Cutting material and sharpening focus are crucial to good writing, as Prose suggests. Toward the end of the writing and revising I was my harshest critic. I struggled mostly with getting the sentences to “snap into place,” by making them as clear as possible so that readers could better understand my points. But being clear does not mean writing like a machine. Good writing—at least for me—is musical, lyrical. And dare I say poetic—even though I do not consider myself a poet! Raymond Carver (2006) tells readers
Evan Connell said once that he knew when he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting commas back in the same place. (p. 104)
I found myself, too, putting in commas, taking them out and then putting them back again—for the sake of clarity. Although these Guidebooks are not short stories, they are writings—prose—that demand attention to punctuation. One of the most important things to me, as a scholar, is to be clear in my writing. And clarity has a lot to do with the art of punctuation. Clarity does not mean losing your voice; it means strengthening voice by making meaning clear. Only readers, though, can judge whether the writing is clear or not. Writers are too in the thick of it to be certain that meanings will be made via clarity.
Writing is not merely about technique. It is also, first and foremost, “the subject of invention” (Bawarshi, 2003, p. 1). The way in which scholars use ← 5 | 6 → citations, leave things out, put things back in place, and think creatively about the subject at hand is—at the end of the day—about invention. Scholarship is as much as an invention as is creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories, and so on. Scholars invent narratives.
Susan Cahill (2004) states, “Some writers challenge the reader to change her life, or at least to rethink its assumptions, not to get stuck. Subversive points of view, though never soothing, are always invigorating, the voice strong” (p. xiii). I think that “subversive points of view” only come about through a dialogic relation with texts. Scholars must dance with the text, as it were, to be able to change the way readers think about things. Scholarship is not merely reporting, it is making new meaning from old ideas. And making the old new requires dance, dialogue. It is for the reader to judge, though, whether the positions taken by the writer are subversive or not.
It is important to note that curriculum scholars are not all in agreement on things. We are not cut out of the same cloth. The positions that I take throughout the Guidebooks might differ from the positions that another scholar might take. Some might think the nature of a guidebook is not to take positions but to merely report on the state of knowledge. But I think otherwise. The scholar takes an idea, does something with it, takes a position and hopefully—as Cahill (2004) suggests—makes readers think differently about the subject at hand.
A Few Points about Style
When I approach an idea, or a concept, I do so with what I call an “open horizon.” That is, after working on a concept, that concept takes on its own life and I follow it wherever it goes—into an open horizon. This does not mean that my writing has little structure. My writing is highly structured. The work at hand must be highly structured in order to get entangled in an open horizon. Open horizons are made up of tangents and meanderings. This is the style of what some might consider to be bricolage. I would venture to say that most guidebooks or handbooks do not wander or meander or celebrate tangents or bricolage. But I think that scholarship is made interesting on the edges of horizons. One comes to those edges through wandering, getting entangled in tangents, and working in the style of a bricoleur. I see my work—overall—as postmodern. The postmoderns meander, embrace tangents, and engage in ← 6 | 7 → bricolage. Although I have a basic thesis for each chapter, my work is hardly linear. If anything my writing is circular and labyrinthine.
William Zinsser (1985) says, “Style, of course, is ultimately tied to the psyche, and writing has deep psychological roots” (p. 24). The psyche is not the master of its own house. Much of the psyche is unconscious, as I stated earlier. Much of the process of writing—the voice, the content, and the style—is driven by the unconscious. Thus, why we write about what we do—at the end of the day—is a mystery.
Ben Yagoda (2005) remarks,
Style in the deepest sense is not a set of techniques, devices, and habits of expression that just happen to be associated with a particular person, but a presentation or representation of something essential about him or her. (p. xvii)
One’s style cannot be detached from one’s personality. As Yagoda points out, style reflects “something essential” about the writer. To remove one’s personality from the writing is to, in effect, destroy the writing. But in much academic writing, the personality of the writer vanishes. Academics suggest—Yagoda tells us—that style “will cloud the waters and shift the focus of the piece away from the issues at hand, toward something literary or personal” (p. 167). On the contrary, I think that concepts and theoretical frameworks are better understood when the writer’s personality and voice are made clear. Students who read dead textbooks written by committees—who agree to offend no one—get bored and stop reading. Students should be engaged in their reading by writers who are engaged with their materials. I do not think that personal styles “cloud the waters” (Yagoda, p. 167). Authentically presenting to the reader one’s own voice, style, and position is a more clear and honest approach to doing scholarship.
Brief Chapter Outlines
In chapter 2, “Aesthetic Curriculum Concepts,” I begin with a general introduction to aesthetics and its relation to curriculum studies. I explore music, dance, reader’s theater, the visual arts, and drama. I argue that aesthetics in these art forms raises psychoanalytic, philosophical, postmodern, posthuman, and political questions. I explore these questions in relation to curriculum studies. ← 7 | 8 →
In chapter 3, “Spiritual Curriculum Concepts,” I begin with a general introduction to spirituality in its relation to religion, aesthetics, ecology, and depth psychology. Then I examine concepts that emerge in the interstices of curriculum studies and spirituality such as soul, holy sparks, mysticism, ecospirituality, the spiritual in its relation to social activism, and I explore the emergence of Jewish scholarship in its relation to curriculum studies.
In chapter 4, “Cosmopolitan Curriculum Concepts,” I ask what it means to think the world, to think, in other words, on a universal level. Then I explore what it means to think on a national level. I explore what it means to think about borders between nations and the permeability of those borders. I ask readers to think the universal and particular (or the international and the national) together. I ask readers to consider what it means to move toward having more international conversations.
In chapter 5, “Ecological Curriculum Concepts,” I explore the naturalists and their decline. Then I move into a section on human-animal studies. I explore what is called “environmental education,” issues of ecojustice education, and environmental justice education. Finally, I examine ecology, and in this context I explore the concept of home (or being in place) and homelessness (or being displaced.)
In chapter 6, “Cultural Studies Curriculum Concepts,” I discuss what is meant by the concept of “youth cultures.” Then I examine what it means for youth cultures to express themselves in the realm of the popular. That is, I contextualize my study on youth cultures as they engage in music, graffiti, sports, and more. I argue in this chapter that youth is raced, classed, and gendered. I look at various ways that the concept of the popular is deconstructed through a variety of theoretical frameworks.
In chapter 7, “Postcolonial Curriculum Concepts,” I look at the debate over the concept of “post” in postcolonial literature. I examine issues of colonialism and racism and the ways in which education has been complicit in colonization. I also talk about the problems of the concepts of the “canon” and “tradition.” I argue that these are political concepts. I also examine the ways in which colonial peoples have resisted colonization. I explore psychological problems brought on by colonialism. Finally, I talk about what is called “anticolonial scholarship.”
In chapter 8, “Poststructural Curriculum Concepts,” I argue that curriculum theorists have carved out at least four areas in relation to poststructuralism. These are chaos and complexity theory, posthumanism, postformalism, and poststructural ethics and politics. Three major poststructural writers upon ← 8 | 9 → whom curriculum theorists draw are Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Emmanuel Levinas. I discuss curriculum studies scholars’ recent commentaries on these thinkers.
In chapter 9, “Psychoanalytic Curriculum Concepts,” I offer brief discussions on some key concepts of psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Anna Freud. In the second part of the chapter I explore the work of psychoanalyst and educationist Deborah Britzman. In the last part of the chapter I explore a variety of curriculum scholars who have done psychoanalytically oriented work in relation to curriculum studies. ← 9 | 10 →
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This chapter begins with a general and brief introduction to aesthetics and its relation to curriculum studies. I will discuss such art forms as music, dance, reader’s theater, the visual arts, and drama. Aesthetics and these various art forms raise psychoanalytic, philosophical, postmodern, posthuman, and political questions. My aim in this chapter is to explore these questions in their relation to curriculum studies.
What Is Aesthetics?
Boyd White (2009) points out that according to Andrew Irving’s “review of Schneider and Wright’s (2006) Contemporary Art and Anthropology”:
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- Publication date
- 2016 (February)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 434 pp.