Curriculum as Spaces

Aesthetics, Community, and the Politics of Place

by David M. Callejo Pérez (Author) Donna Adair Breault (Author) William White (Author)
©2015 Monographs XXVI, 119 Pages
Series: Complicated Conversation, Volume 45


This book has won the «O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award» 2015 from the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC)
Curriculum as Spaces: Aesthetics, Community, and the Politics of Place can be viewed as a holistic approach to education, conservation, and community development that uses place as an integrating context for learning. It argues that curriculum and place is a much deeper subject, with roots in aesthetics, community, and politics that go beyond the individual and profoundly address the formation of our current belief system.
Despite the unique efforts described in this book to address the curriculum of space, major issues persist in our educational system. First, the rigor of curriculum studies is not usually applied to this complex field that encompasses philosophy, aesthetics, geography, social theory, and history. Second, the conflict caused by studying the place without contextualizing it within the larger social milieu ignores the nuances of our intimately global social network. Third, current responses ignore the uncritical assessment of underrepresented groups within the theoretical landscape. With these problems in mind, Curriculum as Spaces introduces foundational principles that ask us to imagine the full realization of curriculum spaces and show us how to examine the philosophical and cultural roots of these most essential principles.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue—Origins and Foundations
  • Unfolding the Narrative
  • Modernity, Education, and Control
  • Place, Space, and Communities
  • Aesthetics and Re-awakening the Lived Connection to Education
  • Cosmopolitanism, Engagement, and Transactional Curriculum
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 1. The Transactional Spaces of Curriculum: Rethinking “Community” and Re-Engaging Educators
  • Curriculum as a Trajectory of Action
  • Recognizing vs. Perceiving Curriculum
  • The Role of Metaphor in Engaging our Professional Imaginations
  • Curriculum as Spaces
  • Schooling as Heterotopia
  • Transaction, Disfiguring, and the Moral Dimension of Curriculum
  • Conclusion: Curriculum as Radical Transactions
  • Chapter 2. The Aesthetic Moment in Education
  • Chapter 3. Disrupting our Imagined Communities: The Role of Ritual in Promoting Cosmopolitan Curriculum Communities
  • A Cosmopolitan Encounter: Museo Nacional de Antropología
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Curriculum and Cosmopolitanism
  • An Approximation of Cosmopolitan Curriculum: Oakland Cemetery
  • The Role of Ritual in Promoting a Cosmopolitan Curriculum
  • Rituals for a Cosmopolitan Curriculum
  • Ritual Giving
  • Ritual Dance
  • Ritual Meals
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4. Re-Assessing and Re-Capturing Space Through Radical Curriculum
  • Designing Curriculum
  • Autobiographical Paradigm of Place
  • Chapter 5. Urban Spaces
  • Introduction
  • Place and History of the Federal District
  • Indicators of Need in a Spatial Context
  • Stakeholders and Curricular Spaces for Action
  • Leveraging Existing Neighborhood Assets
  • Researching Solutions with a Heart: The Role of Education
  • Institutional Cohesion and Identity: How Schools can Lead Change
  • Curriculum as transformative leadership
  • Chapter 6. Curriculum as Transactional Aesthetic
  • Notes
  • Conclusion
  • The Journey Ahead: Our Radical Ontological Calling as Curriculum Scholars
  • Contested Political Space: No Man’s Land
  • Contested Identities: Kandahar
  • Hope in Contested Spaces: Songcatcher
  • Conclusion
  • References

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What began as a conversation about urban education, spaces and communities at a hotel lobby became a year-long endeavor to discover who we were as individuals undertaking this approach to space and curriculum. In that year, we have relied on the ideas, patience, and support of many people who believed that our work would find a voice and audience within the academic public. David M. Callejo Pérez wishes to thank Peter Lang Publishing and their staff for their vision in seeing the value of our work. I would also like to thank William Pinar for welcoming our book into the Complicated Conversation Series. And of course, to two great co-authors, Donna and Bill, and their partnership in this book. I would also like to express gratitude to my mentor and friend, Stephen M. Fain, for his continued support and wisdom. Additionally, Donald Bachand at Saginaw Valley State University for his investment in conversations about this and many other topics. As in my life, this project has benefited and grown immeasurably from the understandings offered by my amazing wife, Emily Callejo, whose vision is on display in the cover, and two enchanting daughters, Icie and Annie, who remind me of my role and purpose. Last, as always, I thank my parents, Jose and Barbara, who encouraged and sacrificed for me to thrive. ← vii | viii →

I would like to thank my wonderful colleagues, William and David, with whom I have enjoyed the conversations and challenges regarding our thinking throughout this process. I am also thankful for my mentors, Deron Boyles, Dorothy Huenecke, who introduced me to Dewey and aesthetics as a graduate student years ago, and for Brad Stone, who asked a college sophomore to read Richard Sennett’s work. It was while sitting in the Philip Weltner Library at Oglethorpe University and reading Sennett’s work that I was first and deeply intrigued by notions of space. I am also thankful for my family. Rick’s support has been felt across continents as he begins his Fulbright in Moldova, and Audrey and Niamh have graciously given Mommy space to finish whatever she has been doing at the computer. Thank you all, near and far, for the impact you’ve had in my work and my life.

During the journey that became this book, there were many fellow sojourners who not only accompanied me, but also provided feedback and the courage to continue. First, of course, are my fellow authors, David and Donna. From informal discussions about the nature of space, the rising tide of national curriculum that denies the importance of locality in education, and the importance of thinking critically about the educational environment, an idea was born and the book began to take shape. At each junction along the path, we shared our thoughts, encouraged discussion, and most importantly maintained not only progress toward a goal, but also friendships. I would also like to thank my spouse, Dr. Sarah Beth Hinderliter. Her work on communities and the evolving ways in which aesthetics, politics, and education, seen through the lens of Jacques Rancière’s philosophy, was instrumental in conceptualizing and completing my sections of the Communities as Spaces. There is no doubt that the many conversations and the gentle ways in which Beth clarified complex ideas helped lead me toward a deeper and richer understanding of aesthetics and education. However, Beth was not only a comforting intellectual presence. She also helped me find the time and energy to work toward completion of the book as deadlines approached and multiple tasks loomed. And finally, I wish to thank Lennon, Sophie, and Zora. Each and every day, they remind me in many ways how beautiful life is.

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Curriculum as Spaces: Aesthetics, Community, and the Politics of Place (Curriculum as Spaces) is grounded in recent theoretical thinking on communities, cosmopolitanism, and aesthetics as they pertain to the field of education, broadly, and curriculum more specifically. Over the past several decades, a restrictive narrative that places assessment, accountability, and measurement at the fore have gained favor as the means to rectify the supposed deficiencies of education even as educational theorists have drawn attention to the need for pedagogies of place (Callejo Perez, Fain, & Slater, 2004), pedagogies that question the prevalence of “acquisitiveness” (Schubert, 2009), and the necessity of conversations that are challenging and complex rather than reductive (Pinar, 2001). We argue, in various ways and voices, that education is not a depoliticized act or theory that is of little consequence to communities and to people. Rather, in response to an increasing displacement of curriculum from the locality to the federal level, we propose an ecological design to curriculum in which education becomes more than rote memorization of isolated facts. More specifically, we seek to re-centered curriculum on the common experiences of communities and the individuals who inhabit them. Although not specifically addressed within this work, Curriculum as Spaces places John Dewey’s naturalistic philosophy, in which he questions the ← xi | xii → static models of interaction that deny interconnectedness between organisms and the environment they inhabit, into dialog with the work of Jean-Luc Nancy (2001/2002) who imagined that communities are built upon a contingent being together that creates unity out of singularity.

The present work began simply enough as a series of informal conversations between friends. Sitting around conference and dinner tables at the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum’s 2012 conference in San Antonio, Texas, we began to ponder the myriad of ways in which contemporary education has not only stripped meaning from schooling, but has also created anesthetic experiences for most learners. As we delved more deeply into questions of critical geography and educational ecology, we began to form the kernel of the idea for this book. Following Lisa Cary’s (2006) call for curriculum spaces as epistemological concepts that emerge from historical, social, political, and economic dialogues; we set about the task of writing Curriculum as Spaces.


XXVI, 119
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (January)
holistic approach education learning social network belief system
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 119 pp.

Biographical notes

David M. Callejo Pérez (Author) Donna Adair Breault (Author) William White (Author)

David M. Callejo Pérez is Associate Provost at Saginaw Valley State University. He has authored books and published over 75 papers on civil rights, identity, urban and rural education, Latino/a(s), higher education, policy, and evaluation. Donna Adair Breault is Professor and Department Head in Childhood Education and Family Studies at Missouri State University. She has authored books and articles focusing on Dewey’s theory of inquiry, curriculum, educational leadership, and organizational dynamics within higher education. William L. White is an Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at the State University of New York–Buffalo. He serves as the Chair of the Department of Social and Psychological Foundations of Education as well as the College’s Director of Faculty Development.


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148 pages