The Curriculum

A New Comprehensive Reader

by João M. Paraskeva (Volume editor)
Textbook 978 Pages


The volume provides crucial approaches from leading educators, curriculum theorists, and pedagogues since the emergence of curriculum as a field of studies. It underlines the wrangles within and beyond hegemonic and counter-hegemonic curriculum inquiry exploring the advances, accomplishments, and frustrations of a particular radical critical river of intellectuals—what Paraskeva calls the "generation of utopia"—in the struggle for a just society.
"Thanks to a keenly discerning eye, Paraskeva has crafted an essential tool for stepping back and taking epistemological stock of the course the field has taken and the directions in which it is now being steered."—Cathryn Teasley, University of A Coruña, Spain
"‘Under one roof’ Paraskeva captures the writings, ruminations, and reflections of germinal authors from what I characterize as the ‘porous’ field of curriculum studies."—Todd, Price National Louis University, USA
"Paraskeva strikes again and provides key foundational documents in a volume that should be examined by all educators committed to social and cognitive justice."—James Jupp, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA
"Paraskeva’s reader is imperative to those unhappy with the current state of the field and who want to know how curriculum theorizing relates to other areas of thinking."—Fatma Mızıkacı, Ankara University, Turkey
"João Paraskeva’s edited book offers a wonderfully comprehensive examination of the leading and common means of theorizing knowledge in educational thought."—Anthony Brown, University of Texas, Austin, USA
"Paraskeva’s volume provides a powerful understanding of the struggles between hegemonic perspectives and a dispersed counter-hegemonic radical critical river—as he insightfully labeled ‘a generation of utopia’—a river of hope and possibility."—Maria Nikolakaki, University of Peloponnese, Greece

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Advance Praise
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • The Original Sin. A Critique of the Curriculum Reason: Towards a ‘non-Derivative’ Critical Curriculum Reason (William H. Schubert)
  • Part I Emergence of the Field
  • 1. A Genealogy of Curriculum Researchers (William H. Schubert, Ann Lynn Lopez Schubert, Leslie Herzog, George Posner and Craig Kridel)
  • 2. The Historical U.S. Curriculum Field’s Sense of the Past (William Wraga)
  • 3. The Yale Report
  • 4. The Report of the Committee of Ten (Charles W. Eliot)
  • 5. Report of the Committee of the Fifteen: The Introduction (William Maxwell)
  • 6. The Fundamental Assumptions in the Report of the Committee of Ten (Charles W. Eliot)
  • 7. The Report of the Committee of Ten: Its Use for the Improvement of Teachers Now at Work in the Schools. (Francis Parker)
  • 8. Art in Secondary Education—An Omission by the Committee of Ten (John S. Clark)
  • 9. The Report of the Committee of Ten. From the Point of View of the Smaller Colleges (John E. Bradley)
  • 10. The Report of the Committee of Ten. From the Point of View of the College Preparatory School (Julius Sachs)
  • 11. Report of the Fifteen. Correlation of Studies in Elementary Schools (William T. Harris)
  • 12. The Intellectual Value of Tool-Work (William T. Harris)
  • 13. The Public High School (Ella Flagg Young)
  • 14. The Ideal School as Based on Child Study (G. Stanley Hall)
  • 15. Scientific Management in Education. (Joseph M. Rice)
  • Part II The Heyday of Scientific Management
  • 16. The Principles of Scientific Management (Frederick Taylor)
  • 17. The Backward Children Investigation (Leonard Ayres)
  • 18. The Vicissitudes of Social Control (Edward Ross)
  • 19. The Elimination of Waste in Education (John Franklin Bobbitt)
  • 20. The Reorganization of Women’s Education (Werrett Wallace Charters)
  • 21. The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education
  • 22. The Meaning of Vocational Education (Charles A. Prosser )
  • 23. Mental Discipline in High School Studies (E. L. Thorndike)
  • 24. How Modern Business May Aid in Reconstructing the Curriculum (Charles Judd)
  • 25. The Significance of the Essentialist Movement in Educational Theory (William C. Bagley)
  • 26. Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education (David Snedden)
  • 27. The Family and Social Change (William Sumner)
  • 28. Evaluating the Importance of Teacher’s Activities (Ralph W. Tyler)
  • Part III The Rise of a Specific Progressive River
  • 29. Report of the Committee of Ten. From the Point of View of Educational Theory (Charles DeGarmo)
  • 30. Discussion on Report of Dr. Harris (Francis Parker)
  • 31. Discussion on Report of Dr. Harris (Charles McMurry)
  • 32. Discussion on Report of Dr. Harris (Charles DeGarmo)
  • 33. Discussion on Report of Dr. Harris (Frank McMurry)
  • 34. Discussion on Report of Dr. Harris (Nicholas Murray Butler)
  • 35. A Word from William Harris on his Report and Respective Comments (William T. Harris)
  • 36. The Quincy Method (Francis Parker)
  • 37. My Pedagogical Creed (John Dewey)
  • 38. Dewey and the Herbartians: The Genesis of a Theory of Curriculum (Herbert Kliebard)
  • 39. Trade Unions and Public Duty (Jane Addams)
  • 40. The American Negro and His Economic Value (Booker T. Washington)
  • 41. The Religious Life and Needs of Negro Students (Benjamin E. Mays)
  • 42. Does the Negro Need Separate Schools? (W.E. Burghardt Du Bois)
  • 43. How I Feel as a Negro at a White College (Edythe Hargrave)
  • 44. The Curriculum and the Negro Child (Horace Man Bond)
  • 45. Higher Education of Negro Women (Lucy D. Slowe)
  • 46. The Project Method (William H. Kilpatrick)
  • 47. The Vindication of Sociology (Albion Small)
  • 48. Why Educational Objectives? (Boyd Henry Bode)
  • 49. Social Reconstructionism Through Education (Harold Rugg)
  • 50. Dare Progressive Education be Progressive? (George S. Counts)
  • Part IV A Radical Critical Progressive River
  • 51. On Education (Antonio Gramsci)
  • 52. A Curriculum Afterword: The Dialogue (Dwayne Huebner and João M. Paraskeva)
  • 53. The Practical: A Language for Curriculum (Joseph J. Schwab)
  • 54. Curriculum and Human Interests (James Macdonald)
  • 55. On the Right and the Duty to Change the World (Paulo Freire)
  • 56. Social Evaluation of Curriculum (Michael Apple with Landon Beyer)
  • 57. Paulo Freire’s Radical Democratic Humanism: The Fetish of Method (Stanley Aronowitz)
  • 58. Dialectics and the Development of Curriculum Theory (Henry A. Giroux)
  • 59. Dramatic Analysis: Interpretative Inquiry for the Transformation of Social Settings (Roger Simon and Donald Dippo)
  • 60. The Future of the Past: Reflections on the Present State of Empire and Pedagogy (Peter McLaren)
  • 61. Critical Pedagogy in the Twenty-first Century: Evolution for Survival (Joe L. Kincheloe)
  • 62. A Critical Theory of Cultural Democracy (Antonia Darder)
  • 63. A Marxian and Radical Reconstructionist Critique of American Education: Searching Out Black Voices (William Watkins)
  • Part V A Surge from Within
  • 64. Myths of Social Science in Curriculum (Thomas S. Popkewitz)
  • 65. Body and Soul: Sources of Social Change and Strategies of Education (Philip Wexler)
  • 66. Philosophical Work, Practical Theorizing, and the Nature of Schooling (Landon Beyer)
  • 67. Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy (Elizabeth Ellsworth)
  • 68. The Culture of Method (William Doll)
  • 69. The Disconnect Between How We Think and the Relational World We Live In (Chet Bowers)
  • 70. Autobiography and an Architecture of the Self (William Pinar)
  • 71. Word Worlds: The Literary Reference for Curriculum Criticism (Madeleine Grumet)
  • 72. The Sound of Silence Breaking: Feminist Pedagogy and Curriculum Theory (Janet Miller)
  • 73. I Know Why This Doesn’t Feel Empowering: A Critical Race Analysis of Critical Pedagogy (Gloria Ladson-Billings)
  • 74. Ideology and Methodological Attitude (Patti Lather)
  • 75. Resisting “Resistance”: Stories Women Teachers Tell (Petra Munro)
  • 76. Toward an Eschatological Curriculum Theory (Patrick Slattery)
  • 77. Subject Matters? Curriculum History, the Legitimation of Scientific Objects, and the Analysis of the Invisible (Bernadette Baker)
  • 78. The Palace of the Peacock: Wilson Harris and the Curriculum in Troubled Times (Cameron McCarthy)
  • 79. An Ontological Grounding for Curriculum: Learning to Be In-The-World (Dennis Carlson)
  • 80. The Southern Mist: The Shaping of American Culture and Politics (William M. Reynolds)

←xii | xiii→


William H. Schubert

In constructing The Curriculum: A New Comprehensive Reader, João M. Paraskeva provides an admirable scholarly service to the curriculum field in at least two laudable ways. First, he provides a collection of salient writings from the curriculum studies, especially those contributing to curriculum theory. Readers, collections of key primary source articles, constitute a valuable contribution to introducing fields of inquiry, and often accompany synoptic texts (secondary sources) which summarize and conceptualize literature of the field, in novel ways for each generation of scholars. Second, Paraskeva departs from the wholly topical organization of most collections of readings by presenting them in chronological order, which gives a sense of history. His overview of each major section also provides an interpretive synoptic characterization of the field, which is especially helpful for readers.

I suspect that Professor Paraskeva invited me to write this Foreword, because of my experience in constructing a similar book in the early 1990s. In The American Curriculum: A Documentary History (Willis, Schubert, Bullough, Kridel, & Holton, 1993) we edited a chronologically arranged set of influential documents from the early 1800s to the 1980s. We included excerpts from major reports (beginning as Paraskeva did with The Yale Report of 1828) and ending with a kind of devolution with the ultra-conservative and neo-liberal pamphlet called A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), a horrible though ironic way to leave readers, as I look back. Our documentary history included articles, excerpts from books, major committee or commission reports, and even course syllabi and policy statements from schools. In teaching curriculum courses, I often paired it with my synoptic text, Curriculum: Perspective, Paradigm, and Possibility (Schubert, 1986). Given this new collection by Paraskeva, I might suggest that it be coupled with his synoptic and historical delineation of the curriculum field: Conflicts in Curriculum Theory (Paraskeva, 2014 updated paperback edition, 2011 hard cover, and 2021b 2nd updated edition).

While I will not comment on each of the inclusions, I do compliment Professor Paraskeva on this remarkable and timely volume. There are so many that commentary on all of them would be a book-in-itself. Instead, I raise some issues to ponder for readers of this book—at least one for each section.

←xiii | xiv→Part I, Emergence of the Field, begins with the genealogical article, which was a result of a project developed initially by George Posner, Ann Lopez Schubert, and myself and originally published in JCT (Schubert & Posner, 1980)*. It represented the first use of genealogy in curriculum literature, though not drawn from the uses of genealogy by Frederick Nietzsche or Michel Foucault, among others, in philosophy. Perhaps it should have been. Nonetheless, it was simply based on inquiries into who were the doctoral advisers of then (late 1970s) contemporary curriculum scholars. We sought to trace the student-mentor relationships as far back as we could, which led to early educators, psychologists, and philosophers, such as Johann Friedrich Herbart, Wilhelm Wundt, Charles Sanders Peirce, among others in the United States and Western Europe. Continuing our attempt to sketch beginnings of an intellectual sociology of the curriculum field, we broadened the inquiry to ask about other professors, colleagues, and even influential authors and works read by scholars questioned. Still the answers were almost entirely from the United States, Western Europe, and White, mostly male. The point is that scholars from the Empires of the West (especially German, British, French, and the emergent U.S. based corporate-state) seemed to consider themselves founders of the field.

This facilitates the assumption that the curriculum field was created by scholars of the West, especially in the United States; thus, I suggest that readers consider the massive dismissal of persons who were not among the imperial who also addressed basic curriculum questions in deep, perceptive, and insightful ways. I encourage reading widely in the curriculum literature to find questions that address what is worthwhile, who says so, who benefits and who is harmed by visions and practices of what is worthwhile. You might want to consider that alongside of those listed in the genealogy that a multitude of philosophers, religious leaders, scholars of all sorts, artists and literary figures, shamans, and parents, community leaders, and many other persons from all over the world have been asking the what’s worthwhile questions. Moreover, it is only reasonable to assume that they also consider (have long considered) matters of why, what, for whom, where, when, and how—all regarding what is and should be worthwhile. I tried to summarize an elaboration and diversification of multiple dimensions of worth in a brief article that departed from the limitations of Herbert Spencer’s question: What knowledge is of most worth? (Schubert, 2009), by suggesting that we address what’s worth needing, knowing, experiencing, doing, being, becoming, overcoming, contributing, sharing, wondering, imagining, improving, and more. After all, one could argue that Spencer, the paragon of social Darwinists, paved the way for neoliberalisms of today.

It is important to ask: Why are many more publics not considered part of the curriculum field? Thus, it is of paramount import to focus on perennial curriculum questions raised in the articles of this book by wondering how the genealogized scholars emerged to legitimize The Curriculum Field as it has come to be known. Curriculum Studies is hardly alone in this indictment of what counts as a legitimized field—most any field from the sciences and arts to the social sciences to literature, mass media, and any of the professions have histories swathed in imperial and colonial influence—being born in West-ness, White-ness, and male-ness.

So, with that as preamble, I urge you to consider whether becoming a field is departing from asking its basic questions by myriad publics and why it results in making a scholarly area of study into an institution of whatever Empire has conquered a given place and time.

Who and what do the committees and commissions that brought the emergence of the Curriculum Field represent? I commend Dr. Paraskeva for providing not only key reports, but also some of the statements of dissent by members of those report teams. With that in mind, who are the publics who ←xiv | xv→are to be educated by so-called public education or public schooling and who are the powerful publics who make or implement decisions for the more moderate or oppressed publics?

In The Heyday of Scientific Management, Paraskeva’s selections portray the emergent reverence for science and evoke the question of whether it is a reverence for the scientific or the scientistic. Many powerful ideas are included in the selections and I urge you to consider their pertinence to educational problems of today, e.g., the breadth of the Cardinal Principles, learning in novel ways through diverse vocational endeavors, and the linkages between science and business.

Paraskeva’s selections under the topic of The Rise of a Specific Progressive River embrace critical perspective and action that call curriculum theory to challenge the dominant socio-political-economic order, especially balanced with voices from those who were so fervently left out, African Americans, other American minorities, and reconstructionists of many sorts. In A Radical Critical Progressive River, Paraskeva brilliantly coalesces writings that build a critique that show realization of the need for curriculum studies no longer based on curriculum development as merely an act of facilitating what comports as sycophantic to those who sabotage the name of democracy for personal gain as ambassadors who further the interests of the neo-liberalist corporate state. This, I suggest, enables the bringing together of diverse curriculum perspectives that over fifty curricularists strove to provide in The Sage Guide to Curriculum in Education (He, Schultz, & Schubert, 2015) and what we are pointing to expand through articles invited for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies (Schubert & He, 2021). It speaks, too, to Paraskeva’s calls to overcome epistemicide, through itinerate curriculum theory, rekindled considerations of utopia, and by addressing greater justice through asking about whose internationalization, and recognizing that curriculum theory is not whole without genuine partnership with the Global South, writ large (Paraskeva, 2009; 2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2021a; 2021b).

This thrust of what curriculum theory could be combines with selections in A Surge from Within that moves forward to show that curriculum theory has the potential to be meta-study that points to a place for curriculum theory that is not only disciplinary and interdisciplinary; it is transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and counter-disciplinary. In essence, I call on readers to consider ways to continue the expansion of curriculum theory by learning from the multitudes who have been addressing curriculum questions and doing curriculum theory in diverse ways, too often unrecognized and unaccepted by those who have been certified to do institutionalized curriculum theory.

←xvi | 1→

The Original Sin.
A Critique of the Curriculum Reason: Towards a ‘non-Derivative’ Critical Curriculum Reason

João M. Paraskeva

El Peccadillo Original

When the never-to-be-forgotten day of the terrible auction arrived,

slaves, horses, and other cattle were to put under the hammer and again change masters.

Truth (1998)

It was in 1772 when in Reading, Pennsylvania, a slave dealer issued a letter to the slave-trading company complaining about his product:

I took your Negro George, some time ago home, thinking I might be better able to Sell him: who after being with me a night behaved himself in such an insolent manner, I immediately remanded him back to the Gaol. About a week since I put him up at Public sale … where there was a number of Persons who inclined to Purchase him. But he protested publicly that he would not be sold, and if anyone should purchase him, he would be the Death of him and words to the like purpose, which deter’d the people from biding. I then sent him back with Directions to the Gouler to keep him at Hard Labor which he refuses to do & goes in such An Insolent Manner that’s impossible to get a master to him there.1

So many millions, know full well, that “when the never-to-be-forgotten day of the terrible auction arrived, they were put, like horses and other cattle, under the hammer, and again change masters.”2 Slavery, in James Madison’s words, is “America’s original sin.”3 The fact that there is not a single Black person who has come freely to the shores of the New World is precisely, in Tocqueville’s eyes, “one of the irresolvable/great dilemmas of American democracy,”4 a dilemma—among so endless others—that crosses the curriculum field, a clock bomb about to on anytime At the very root of our field’s endemic epistemicidal malaise5 relies on the nation’s eugenic sin; it emerges and grows out of it. Such sin is one of the fundamental pillars that sustain Modern Western Eurocentric reason, a eugenic reason, and the riverbed of countless dominant and counter-dominant curriculum theories.6 Blackness and race ←1 | 2→constituted a convoluted nub—among others—through which what I called curriculum epistemicide and reversive epistemicide7 is crafted and developed. They form a structural component of “the nuclear power plant from which the modern project of knowledge—and governance—has been played; they represent the twin figures of the delirium produced by modernity”8—a delirium which is quite transversal to the struggles for the US curriculum theory and history as exemplified in the chapters of this volume.

Generations after generations have been exposed to “a pedagogy aimed specifically at habituating them to racism”9—as well as genderism, classism and casteism—a pedagogy that normalized selective breeding, eugenic betterment, and sterilization of those considered with inferior blood,10 a ‘public’ pedagogy through which millions have been “injected with fear, inferiority complexes, trepidation, servility, despair, and abasement.”11 If racism is the nation’s original sin, the epistemicide is the field’s ‘peccadillo original’; it’s the field’s nature. Since the end of the nineteenth-century eugenics was always at the center of gravity of the multifarious theoretical wrangles led by hegemonic and counter-hegemonic movements, groups, traditions, and impulses over ‘whose/what knowledge is of most worth’12—a sin that resiliently persists and runs along with the contemporary dominant and counter dominant Eurocentric theoretical paths of the field.13

It is thus important to interrogate ourselves what is happening with the hegemonic theories and above all with the counter-hegemonic ones in the field—more specifically with the critical theories—that fail in putting an end to this original sin. As I had the opportunity to examine in other spaces, while the former defended profoundly eugenic theories and pedagogical practices, the latter was never able to interrupt these practices, let alone eliminate them. Why? As I have argued in other contexts, and as I will have the opportunity to point out later, both are implicated—albeit differently—in the epistemicidal nature of the curriculum. Why has the critical terrain never managed to eliminate this endemic saga?

What Happen to Critical Curriculum Theory!

Why it is so difficult to build a critical theory?

(Santos, 1999)

Despite notable accomplishments made by critical curriculum theories, it is nonetheless shocking that after more than a hundred years the field is still tied up in a eugenic epistemicidal straitjacket. Why? What underlies such epistemicidal malaise, as I have proclaimed?14 How does it succeed in a democratic society? Before such bewilderment “why still bother with critical curriculum theory15 as François Cusset would put it? Does critical curriculum theory still have something to offer? In Slavoj Žižek terms, is critical curriculum theory still important today?16 Why? Whose theory? Whose theory has been crafted? Why did these critical accomplishments—and in fact, they were not so few—did not break with the field’s original sin? Why do they never become dominant? What is the nature of ‘our’ accomplishments? Which setbacks did we face and why? Whose accomplishments and whose setbacks one is referring? Painstakingly, and as history tells us, critical curriculum theory has never been able to clearly capture the demands and needs of society as a whole. Why? What is this inadequacy due to? Whose inadequacy? The inability of the field to respond to the needs of schools and society has accompanied the field from the beginning. In “whose interest is the activity of the schools?”17 The “bankruptcy of the critical approaches” in our field, as Jacque Rancière18 would have phrased it, doesn’t need scientific proof. Frighteningly, it seems that the failure of critical theory is one of the structuring pillars of current public pedagogies.

←2 | 3→The historical and theoretical multifarious trajectories of the field, vividly show how both dominant and counter-dominant traditions were never producers and carriers of ‘a theory’ that could adequately capture a particular curriculum metamorphosis responsive to the world’s epistemological difference and diversity. If there were any doubts, they would be dispelled by the most recent events. The recent and violent escalation of overt racism, xenophobia, misogynism, and anti-racist sentiment, not only in the U.S. but also around the world, the abrupt emergence of authoritarian impulses, massive migration waves, the emergence of the global pandemic, the current Russian invasion on Ukraine, not to mention the difficulty in reaching a consensus on the decarbonization of the planet, leaves no room for doubt about the quasi-absolute failure of our educational institutions, in general, and curriculum in particular. In fact, the towering failed promises of modernity—i.e., “equality, freedom, peace, and domination of nature”19—triggered the great regression current societies are facing.

More people died of hunger in our century than any of the preceding centuries. The gap between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor in the same country has not stopped growing. Violations of human rights in countries living formally in peace and democracy take on overwhelming proportions. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the peace that many thought ultimately possible became a cruel mirage. Finally the promise of the domination of nature was fulfilled in a perverse way in the form of destruction of nature and ecological crisis.20

Why, as Maristella Svampa would certainly put it, critical curriculum theory has been persistently produced through a “deficit of accumulation, an accumulation of egregious ‘blurring’s and forgetting’s’”?21

While we enter the second decade of the 21st century with the clear perception that both dominant and counter-dominant theories have failed to deliver what they have promised, I am centering my focus particularly on the counter-hegemonic hemisphere, and its critical apparatuses to unpack the challenges facing what I have called in other spaces the generation of utopia within a particular radical critical curriculum river.22 To interrogate the hodiern state of such a river23 becomes imperative. While “the stage is set for critical reformulations to take the stage”24 and since reality and history call for a critical intervention of the critical—but also within the critical—what really happened to critical theory? Indeed, “the time is right to question what happened to critical social theories in education”?25

Why did a sophisticated theoretical approach, unquestionably the most sophisticated for a long time in the struggle against systems of domination, fail even to disrupt such systems of domination? What has been wrong with what we have been doing? At what point do critical educators—progressives if they want to—begin to err? What is the role, course, of our field in this error? Where and why did the fight against curriculum epistemicide fail?26

It is undeniable that critical theory today does not enjoy the glow and vigor of a recent past. It seems that the golden age of critical theory, as Terry Eagleton would put it, is passing.27 Today, there is an “atmosphere of the outdated and antiquated, of the irretrievably lost, which surrounds the grand historical and philosophical ideas of critical theory, ideas for which there no longer seems to be any kind of resonance within the experience of the accelerating present.”28 The younger generation “carries on the work of social criticism without having much more than a nostalgic memory of the heroic years of Western Marxism.”29 Why? How come a supradisciplinary “theory of society against domination in all of its forms”30 that challenges the false notion of detached science—and detached intelligentsia—and runs “counter to prevailing habits of thought”31 not only has been incapable to assume a hegemonic position but also in so many parts of the world have been struggling to make a significant footprint or any footprint at all? Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s approach challenges the field with another powerful question: “Why it is so difficult to build a critical theory?” In his words “in a world where there is so much to criticize, why has it become so difficult to produce a critical theory?”32 What would be the ←3 | 4→role of critical theory today? Is it possible that critical approaches face the same healthy plague of philosophy that is being fundamentally and irremediably a praxis of criticism without creation, as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari would put it?33

Why can’t we have a sustainable democratic curriculum—in a so-called democratic society? Do we have a better interpretation and understanding of the field today? If Karl Marx34 is right—when he points that the focus is not to interpret the world in various ways but to change it—and I agree that he is35 how can we be so sure that we have a just interpretation/understanding of our field? How can ‘just change’ be produced without a ‘just interpretation’ and a ‘just theory’? How can we aim for social transformation without a dominant theory of social transformation? Have we been able to produce a just theory of social transformation? Where is such theory? Why not? How can we achieve such a theory of social transformation while producing a divisive, derivative, abyssal reading of reality and vice-versa?36 Whose/what epistemological colors frame curriculum theory—and should frame a just theory? Isn’t that important? More than a century after the emergence of the field, isn’t important to understand where and how are ‘we’? How have we ended up ‘here’? Why, for instance, great transformative phenomena such as the Highlander Folks School37 did not spread throughout the nation and have been shockingly sidelined within the field? Why do graduate students in the U.S. read about successful progressive experiences such as the Finish educational miracle38 and the participatory budget in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and are completely oblivious of such ‘U.S. miracle’? Why not even Freirean scholars—with few exceptions—echoes Myles Horton’s liberatory praxis? Why has it proved so difficult to produce a comprehensive critical curriculum theory responsive to the world’s differences and diversity?

Odd as it might be is that at the level of the discourses, I know of few educators who do not identify themselves as advocates of critical thinking and engage in developing critical skills in their students. I argue that is only at the level of the discourse though. If one randomly grabs the syllabi of any undergrad or grad program, he or she will certainly notice glaring notabily listed in the learning objectives ‘the development of critical thought and critical skills.’ As a phoneme and grapheme, the ‘critic’ colonized the academy. Now, if ‘we are all critical,’ why is it that critical theory and pedagogy are always marginal? How can we deal with one of the most egregious pedagogical paradoxes facing education today? The denial of the critical—although with criticals—become public pedagogy. Why did critical theory turn into a painful ordeal, a calvary for so many critical theorists? Why is neoliberalism capable of imposing itself as a public pedagogy? Moreover, how many (overt) programs of critical pedagogy—or departments—exist in academia in the U.S. and other parts of the world? Isn’t crucial to have such programs, departments, and schools?

Doesn’t such ‘peccadillo original’ contain the necessary ingredients to trigger a robust critical pedagogy to promote another commonsense? Isn’t the current social chaos facing humanity not enough to change the course of history? For example, if we compare the social reality that preceded historical events like the Russian Revolution and more recently the emergence of Nazism, are we in present-day societies far from the chaos that preceded those tumults that ‘turned’ the world ‘upside down’? How and why is it that this social chaos turns out to be anemic in advancing a critical social theory and pedagogy? Is critical theory a reaction hemisphere? If it is,—not sure that it is—what is that it is missing to trigger a devastating triumphalist reaction? Clearly, it seems that critical theory and pedagogies showed an inability to “sustain a convincing critique of the present social formation in face of the need for such critique.”39

As I have argued elsewhere,40 that most of the crucial reasons that the critical theoretical movement felt and continues to experience difficulties in imposing itself as dominant—a stark paradox, especially on a planet that raises a white flag against human irrationality—lies also in the critical theoretical terrain itself and not just in the neoconservative, neoliberal triumphalist bestride. In defining the epistemicidal nature of the field41 I have framed the eugenic wound of the field in non-derivative terms,42 I have opened the veins of a divisive theoretical canon, drawing attention to a calamitous eugenic ←4 | 5→historical theoretical mass grave—a consequence of coloniality—dug by the shovels of hegemonic and counter hegemonic perspectives who only and only recognize Modern Western Eurocentric matrix as the unique form of reason. Having said this, isn’t “too late to still be speaking about critical curriculum theory today”?43

Although I have examined these issues, related to the inconsequentiality of critical curriculum theory, in other spaces44—as a more attentive reader will notice—I intend here to explore and introduce new avenues to my previous examinations—otherwise, this chapter and volume would add nothing new to the curriculum debates. I indeed intend to venture into alternative theoretical incursions, always challenging and of high risk, to deepen the curriculum debate, helping to break the bonds of the epistemicidal nature of the field. Respecting the past—we all stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us—and given the inconsequentiality of the field, I intend to verify if it is possible to detect precise historical moments, points of convergence, and divergences in the historical and theoretical struggles for the U.S. curriculum that never archived the necessary centrality in the field’s ‘complicated conversations’; moments, that if we had given different attention, probably they could have promoted radically different historical and theoretical rivers—probably fairer, or not. As the reader will notice, I call for precise and meaningful moments in the field’s history that will help to provide an alternative reading and understanding. In doing so, I am trying to complexify my argument introducing new elements, new challenges, new semiotic instruments to help us to grasp in a better way what is going on with our endless diverse and fractured critical curriculum hemisphere. That is, at what ‘point/momentum’ in the critical curriculum processes and reason did we fail? Will it be possible to code, decode and encode45 such curriculum point/momentum? In a field over a hundred years old and in a permanent state of war, I have no doubts that such points/momentum will not be scarce. Could it be that such point/momentum was always the same and was repeated, de-multiplied, and complexified throughout the development of the field’s historical processes? Or on the contrary, is it that we are in the presence of several distinct points/momentum that was also emerging in endless distinct ways during the endless battles for the U.S. curriculum? Are we looking at the right points/momentum? What kind of (un)commonalities trigger and congregate such points? In any of these moments, or did any of these moments cause a theoretical seismic shake? Did they trigger a theoretical spin? What was the scope of such a spin? Fundamentally Eurocentric? Or it was capable of overflowing beyond the eugenic margins of coloniality? What can we learn from the field’s divisive footprint that will allow us to better understand where are we? Is it still accurate to question the existence of curriculum as a field of studies and theory? These are complex yet crucial questions. Let’s admit that the search for such curriculum punctum / momentum constitutes a master key—as I trust it is—to unlock some of the opacities produced by and within the critical terrain. How can we do it? How can we capture such momentum-plural? How to conceptually work on such a razor’s edge? What happens if we fail? As the Mozambican say goes, that doesn’t necessarily imply a mistake, just a delay in our intellectual journey.

Curriculum ‘Textualgraphs’

‘Curriculum’ punctum is a kind of subtle beyond

(Barthes, 2000)

Approaches such as Roland Barthes’ “Camera Lucida”46 or Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”47 can be very helpful here—as it allows us to revisit the terrain of the critical and non-critical—both in its dominant and counter-dominant forms—thus addressing the convoluted questions facing the generation of utopia within a particular radical critical river. While both critical exegeses are related to the idiosyncrasies of photography—“photographs show reality48 irrefutably there”—allow me to focus ←5 | 6→only on “Camera Lucida” as it provides me the freedom and the “power of expansion”49 to extrapolate beyond ‘photography’ and craft a parallel with other realities thus helping me to grasp accurately other readings of the real’s undergird reason. I don’t see such extrapolation as a truncated reading of Roland Barthes’ exegesis. On the contrary, I do try to stretch his rationale beyond the boundaries determined by his framework.

In “Camera Lucida”—a personal and intimate sublime jouissance as a tribute to his mother—Roland Barthes wrangles with two concepts, ‘studium’ and ‘punctum.’ The former relates to the linguistic, political and cultural decantation of photography, which is a “kind of general enthusiastic commitment but without special acuity”;50 it “is the cultural reading of a given reality that enables us to open up the universe of its meanings—meanings that ‘laid there’ intentionally by the photographer herself so that the process of their discovery is part of the (artistic) intention of the photograph.”51 The latter, conversely, relates to the effects that a particular image has on the ‘reader.’ I will center my attention on the concept of ‘punctum’—which was Roland Barthes “main focus”52 as well—as it provides non-derivative hermeneutical processes that allow me to engage in “exfoliate processes”—as José Gil53 would frame it—to better grasp the “blind zones”54 and to see, to notice, to observe, what is so ordinary that it can only be perceived in a non-ordinary way. The ‘punctum’ addresses how can capture such momentum-plural, how can conceptually work on such razor’s edge.

Such ‘punctum’/momentum “disturbs”55 the complex ‘studium’ hemisphere; it is “that accident which pricks me, but also bruises me, is poignant to me,”56 an accident that it is right there—quasi begging—to be precepted. In this regard, I defy Roland Barthes’ agnostics or contras who accuse him “of adding the human dimension to the excessive meaninglessness concept.”57 Trying to understand the ordinary not from an extraordinary way, but precisely from and within the non-ordinary is not meaninglessness and it cannot be conjugated within the impossible. To claim a world out “subjectivity is to advocate a world without people,”58 a conceptual eccentricity that could only dare to promise the impossible.

Thus, Roland Barthes ‘punctum’/momentum is a powerful concept as it defines, for example not only the precise millisecond in which an image/a thought was/is captured, but also the subtle way in which it is grasped—as it is exemplified in Queen’s Victoria photography done by George W. Wilson in 1863. Here is how Roland Barthes penciled it:

She is on horseback, her skirt suitably draping the entire animal (this is the historical interest, the studium) but beside her , attracting my eyes, a kilted groom holds the horse’s bridle; This is the punctum; for even if I do not know what the social status of thus Scotsman may be (servant, equerry?), I can see his function clearly: To supervise the horse’s behavior: what if the horse suddenly began to rear? What would happen to the queen’s shirt, i.e. to her majesty? The punctum fantastically brings out the Victorian nature (what else can one call it?) of the photograph; it endows this photograph with a blind field.59

Such blind field is the subtle feature.60 If the picture was taken a millisecond before or after, if the Queen, and/or the servant, and/or the horse had moved we would most certainly have the construction of another unity, another real—yet precisely with the same players; for example, the landscape although the same would reveal other nuances, glades, shadows, and the Queen, the servant, and the horse would be—probably—showing other postures—that would trigger certainly different “blind zones.”61 That is, although the elements/characters that make up the picture are the same, the ‘punctum’/momentum determines a different unity, a unity that in turn is multiplied in endless interpretations by the reader’s framed by a particular social constructed epistemological matrix. Also, with each photographer, a different ‘punctum’/momentum will emerge—or not. A different ‘punctum’ could extract a different self yet in the same individual. The ‘punctum’/momentum—which is caused by ←6 | 7→the photographer—surrenders to the reader’s hermeneutics. While on the one hand, such ‘punctum’/momentum covers up and buries certain semantics, and promotes always different conceptual grammars, on the other it can provide us with moments and paths of how and where everything can/could be different—a “unary as emphatically transforms reality.”62

The ‘punctum,’ whether “accidental”63 or not—“is an addition; that is, it is what I add to the photograph and what is nonetheless already there”64 a dynamic unsighted/unheeded zone that brings to life a praxis of different differences. Roland Barthes goes even further and establishes the distinction between the erotic and the pornographic reals based on the absence of such a blind zone. While the latter shows no ‘punctum’ as it “represents the sexual organs, making them into a motionless object (a fetish), flattered like an idol that does not leave its niche, the former, on the contrary, does not make the sexual organs into a central object, that is the ‘punctum’ is a kind of subtle beyond.65 The ‘punctum’/momentum thus “snaps the ‘reader’ out of his/her habitual vision,”66 a vision tainted by and within a specific epistemological perspective; it is a unique gateway to the picture “which exists for everybody but is essentially there—and it opens (or remains closed)—just for you”;67 it is something “that the photographer did not intend to put in the picture but that the reader68 unexpectedly discovers in it”;69 it is a “detail that attracts the reader, its mere presence changes the reader’s reading marking in his/her eyes a high value. This detail is the punctum”;70 it consists “in the lasting ability to show us things that we do not want to see, i.e., not in accidental details but in the photograph’s ability to present us with excess and meaningless-ness, the pain and boredom of seeing itself, visual despair.” Thus, in certain ways is camera dolorosa, not camera lucida.71

So far all of this may seem to be grievously and insalubriously abstract and even irritate the reader of this volume. I thus anticipate my apologies and very soon, further on, I will draw attention to the need to not turn our backs on a path, just because it is abstract. I suggested that we go through this extremely rich semiotic thesaurus advocated by Roland Barthes and spin it, as it provides the instruments and the conceptual gadgets that best help us to understand what could be coined as ‘curriculum punctum/momentum’—right there in the framework of multiple and great battles for the U.S. curriculum.

So far I have dissected how Roland Barthes approach allows one to identify precise ‘punctum/momentum’ within the complex historical and theoretical development of the field. Let me now translate Roland Barthes theoretical contraption to our field. As I have argued before, in a field that is an explicit permanent theater of war, there is no shortage of ‘raw material,’ what I would call—expanding Roland Barthes’ semioticism—‘textualgraphs’; that is frames that one is able to craft out of the deep and crucial clashes—within and between Eurocentric dominant and counter-dominant pundits and traditions. Such curriculum ‘textualgraphs’ paves the way to help identify a precise ‘punctum,’ a ‘momentum’ within such disputes, a ‘momentum’ captured by each one unique “personal intuitive objectivity,”72 and that could and should have led the field to other paths. Within such curriculum ‘textualgraphs,’ one excavates for ‘the so desired detail’ shedding light to intricated blind areas in the field73—thus helping to voice sociological absences eugenically produced.74

The raw material provides endless possibilities for unlimited rich curriculum ‘textualgraphs’ as the chapters of this volume documents. Such raw material and its ‘textualgraphs’—endlessly diverse and different and triggering diverse and different ‘momentum’—constitute an undisputable testimonio of the field’s historical reason; a eugenic reason that—under the auspices of Roland Barthes’ conceptual consulate—needs to be decanted, in a discreet but very precise way, through a multiplicity of curriculum ‘momentum-that-is-right-there-in-front-of-us.’ The ‘curriculum-momentum’ which erupts out of the ordinary subtle—if not silenced or produced as invisible or non-existent, as unfortunately has been the case—could help us collectively to better understand where are we as a field, whose theory we have been able to produce—and concomitantly whose theory we persistently refuse to produce—to shed light on different differences and on ‘what needs to be done.’75

←7 | 8→As the chapters of this volume show, the subtlety of such ordinary, which is not extraordinary, that pierces the struggle for the U.S. curriculum like a secant is quite palatable say, in the multitude of developments that one could ‘textualgraph.’ From the Yale Report, and the emergence of the field (Part I), through the heyday of scientific management (Part II), the rise of a specific progressive river (Part III) to the consolidation of a radical critical river (Part IV) and an inevitable surge from within such river (Part V), we don’t lack examples to be able to capture an infinite array of ‘textualgraphs’ that will allow one to subtly miner ‘a/or/the’ crucial curriculum ‘momentum’ out of such rich ‘textualgraphy.’

I call the reader’s attention for the countless rich ‘textualgraphs’ that one could draft for example—just to mention a few—out of the battles76 triggered by yoke of the mind as a muscle philosophy, the Yale Report; the disputes within and between humanists, developmentalists, social efficientists, social meliorists; the chimeric journey to social efficiency and frantic struggle against waste led by scholars like John Bobbitt and Joseph Rice; John Dewey’s defense of a democratic curriculum as microcosm of society; the fearless call against the invisibilities of black thought and communities roared by intellectuals such as William DuBois; the clashes within and beyond the dominant and counter dominant traditions as we can see in wrangles within and beyond the Report of the Committee of 10 and Report of the Committee of 15, as well as the Cardinal Principals on Secondary Education; the deconstruction of educational goals spearheaded by Boyd Bode; the belief in the transformative streak of education advocated by termed red apostles such as Harold Rugg and George Counts; Rickover’s hysteria at the nation’s cultural lag and lack of stricter standards; the clamor for a technical reason—which goes hand in hand with the cult of efficiency designed by John Bobbitt, Joseph Rice and others—championed by Ralph Tyler; the centripetal tour the force against segregation, injustice and inequality unleashed by civil right, romantic critics and/or counter culture intellectuals such as Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks; the crucial Highlander Folks School led by Myles Horton; Charles Prosser vocational education struggles; the proclamation of the fields political and autobiographical nature advocated by Dwayne Huebner; the reproduction postulates drafted by Marxists scholars such as Samuel Bowles and Herb Gintis; the decantation of schools within the dynamics of ideological production and the heyday of neogramscianism advanced by Michael Apple, Henry Giroux and others. Also, it is crucial to highlight the more contemporary purges within the counter-dominant dominant platforms as one can see in strong irreversible autobiographical wave and the power of the person advocated by William Pinar and others; the proclamation of the critical voice of race—beyond the dynamic class—as a fundamental category by Cameron McCarthy and others, as well as the emergence of critical race theory at the curriculum epicenter mentored by Gloria Ladson-Billings and others; the powerful theoretical rip of the very rich and powerful feminist hemisphere that pushed the field into quite another level devised by intellectuals such as Janet Miller, Patti Lather; also the rich river of literary criticism penciled by scholars such as Madeleine Grumet; the devastating and solidly pillared critique related to the reactionary and functionalist character of the critical lead by intellectuals such as Phil Wexler, Elizabeth Ellsworth and Antonia Darder; William Watkins laudably voicing the silences of blackness in the field; and the most recent challenge of the epistemicidal nature of both dominant and counter dominant curriculum led by me (Paraskeva, 2011) and others in what I coined as an itinerant curriculum theory movement (ICT) and the proclamation of the field’s decolonial turn.

In other contexts,77 for example, I was able to explore particular powerful segments of the field’s historical reason and to ‘textualgraph’ the “subtle beyond78 not only between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic approaches, by specifically within the counter-hegemonic matrix;79 in doing so I was able to craft a ‘curriculum momentum’ that spill out—for example—from the “Geneseo Conference” realized on October 7 and 8, 1977 at the State University College of Arts and Science in Geneseo, a Conference entitled “Curriculum Theorizing since 1947: Rhetoric or Progress?,”80 which would be published a year later in “Curriculum Inquiry,”81 edited by José Rosário and Patrick Demarte; I was also able to dissect ←8 | 9→the crucial impact of individuals such as Admiral Hyman Rickover and social movements such as Civil Rights movement, Romantic critics, counter-culture intellectuals, and alternative pedagogical praxis—such as the Highlander Folks School—in the struggle for the U.S. curriculum. In so doing, I have tried to alert the field for the fact that its history and theory could not be examined and theorized without just attention and respect to such great movements that influenced profoundly the course of U.S. education. Undeniably there are centripetal and centrifugal dynamics and forces at play with the struggle for the US curriculum, as I have examined in “Conflicts in Curriculum Theory.”82

Out of such multitude of scenarios and possible ‘textualgraphs,’ and without any attempt to downplay any other ‘curriculum momentum’—i.e., ‘textualgraphs’ produced out of the battles for just and relevant curriculum led by the civil rights, romantic and counter-culture critics are no less important as well—I would highlight what I call the ‘Huebner’s question’ as one of the most—if not the most—neuralgic ‘curriculum textualgraph’ in the contemporary field’s history—which, in my understanding, has not been given due attention. What I call the ‘Huebner’s question’ congregates a set of multifarious challenges—among others, the lack of a just language to address the educational phenomena, the dangerous of the yoke of learning and behavioristic theories, the proclamation of the political83 and autobiographical nature of the field,84 the intricate value systems through which we debate the educational phenomena,85 the curriculum language categories farming and framing dominant educational reason;86 the call for dialectic materialism as the best way to do curriculum;87 the lack of the field’s relevance, and the proclamation of the theoretical and or field’s glacier momentum88—that aimed and should have triggered a theoretical spin in the field.

Unfortunately, in many cases, it looks like ‘Huebner’s question’ has been systematically swept under the rug and diminished of their importance or even existence. As a side—yet important—note, it is curious though that in my interactions with teachers and educators—in South Coast of Massachusetts, southern and northern Europe, in Africa or Latin America—I find that they raise concerns that are related to those that Dwayne Huebner anticipated halfway through the last century. It goes without saying that one should not forget that one cannot understand Dwayne Huebner’s contribution apart from the rich legacy of produced by some his predecessors and contemporaries such as John Dewey, Jane Addams, William Du Bois, Harold Rugg, George Counts, James Macdonald, among others.

The importance of ‘Huebner’s question’ is not just related to the creative ways he articulates, re-articulates, and interpellates89 the field’s subjugation to the yoke of behaviorist and learning theories; its importance doesn’t come either only from the fact that it allows one to draft ‘textualgraphs’ with revolutionary and transformative potential, as it is the case with the proclamation of the political and autobiographical nature of the field—posteriorly explored by scholars such as Michael Apple, William Pinar,90 and others. In fact, both embraced militantly such proclamation; also, the pertinence of the ‘Huebner’s question’ is not just related to the fact that he solemnly announced the field’s last words and repeatedly declared the non-existence of a curriculum theory and field worthy of its name91—although such aspects alone should have been enough to be able to push the field into a different level.

I argue that while these and other matters were and remain quite crucial, what makes the ‘Huebner question’ remarkable and impossible to overlook though is that it provides a matchless ‘textualgraph’; he is one of the first—if not the first—to assume that there was a serious problem with both dominant and counter-dominant curriculum reason, its history and theory. Dwayne Huebner’s rationality remains extremely important because, it shatters the language that framed both dominant and counter dominant educational and curriculum debates—a language that he saw exhausted and inconsequential; because it anticipates the malady facing counter-hegemonic approaches who persistently promise a reality that they cannot possibly offer, but above all because frontally confronts the field’s reason92—all of it overtly derivative and fundamentally Eurocentric. By confronting the reason that reasons curriculum theory and its history, Dwayne Huebner confronts the very historical and epistemological matrix ←9 | 10→that underpins the field’s reason, arguing adamantly that “to build an environment which structures educational activity means to select content from the whole, wide, wonderful world and to make it available for students.”93

The ‘Huebner question’ challenges dominant-counter-hegemonic understandings of curriculum; it is about hope and possibility—or should we say ‘hope without optimism’94—as it anticipates the epistemological spin—as Enrique Dussel suggests95—out of the dominant and counter-dominant—fundamentally Eurocentric—reason. He paved the way for such journey. In his terms, there is no way to fight the field’s original sin without de-linking96 from the reason that undergirds such sin. ‘Huebner’s question’ is the first major contemporary explicit serious threat—from within—to the curriculum as the barracks of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic Modern Western Eurocentric reasoning from within, the first major challenge posed—and unfairly but understandably ignored as inconvenient—to what would come to be called the epistemological pattern of coloniality,97 a pattern challenged by the current decolonial turn. Where are we as a field, what we must offer as public intellectuals, and if there is a theory or field that is worth it of its name implies a fearless duel with the eugenic matrix of Modernity as the field’s epistemological riverbed, forcing its capitulation, given its inability to mobilize a just reason, which can never be achieved by annihilating non-Eurocentric epistemological views of the world. The ‘Huebner’s question’ acknowledges that a just ‘understanding curriculum’ implies to search for a reason out of the reason barber-wired by both dominant and counter dominant Eurocentric ‘canon.’

The reader would certainly counter argue stating that at no point within Dwayne Huebner’s footprint one can identify such grammatology. While he never penciled in his material—both published and unpublished—a decolonial vocabulary, it is not an overstatement to underline that he—quite alone—helped started paving the way for such curriculum turn by torpedoing Modern Western Reason right at its core; he alerted repeatedly for a radically different language to address educational phenomena, he tirelessly dug for a different rationale for the field, and resiliently “tried to see education, specifically curriculum, through different lens,”98 however overtly sentient that such new lens needed to be found out sensible to the world’s endless perspectives –admitting the field’s epistemological blindness; ‘Huebner’s reason’ provides us with a solid base to open up the canon of the curriculum reason. Such ‘question’ introduces a ‘curriculum momentum’ that the field shouldn’t have ignored, a ‘momentum’ that could have push the field to another path—a ‘momentum’ that should have magnetize what I have termed as the generation of utopia within a particular radical curriculum river.99 While scholars like Michael Apple, William Pinar, and others did paid attention to such ‘question’ and moved the field into innovative and appellative ‘political and autobiographical’ rivers, the truth of the matter is that they sift through within and only an Eurocentric board, and as Dwayne Huebner argues, while what they did was important and laudable, what they didn’t do was even more important.100 Before we unpack such eugenic reason that underpins the field’s history and theory’s eugenic sin, let’s re-visit some of the highlights framed within what I call ‘the Huebner question.’

Before we move forward, it is crucial to note the following: Many of the battles fought within the field say little or nothing, to the misfortune suffered by millions of the oppressed. It has even become a truism in our field, referring to some of these battles as pure intellectual masturbation that do nothing to help in the struggle for a just education, curriculum, and pedagogy. Thus, we must have the humility to realize that the voice and pain of the wretched of the earth101 can ignore and/or destroy certain ‘textualgraphs’ that we consider important and promote others—that we have constructed as absent, non-existent, ‘textualgraphs’ that remained however stamped within the putrid silence of our eugenic field. In other words, a new curricular theory—which as I have been argued should be itinerant—must be aware of and fully committed to epistemological diversity and differences leveraged by the subtle beyond triggered by the camera dolorosa—as Roland Barthes102 proclaimed. Drawing on Barthes one could argue that more than a ‘curriculum lucidum’ we have a ‘curriculum dolorificum.’

←10 | 11→

The Huebner Question

First of all, I am not sure if there is a curriculum field

(Huebner, chapter 51)

The ‘Huebner question’ is inherently political and hails and interpellates103 us in so many complex ways. It is a result of ideological battles—and in itself an ideological battle as well—and it congregates a multiplicity of semantic/semiotic zones “that take place in particular historical periods,”104 that is convoluted ideological agoras that pave the way “for new set of meanings for an existing term or category, of dis-articulating it from its place in a signifying structure.”105 In fact, the dated reductive language entrapping the curriculum debates was always a towering concern within Dwayne Huebner’s rationality.

In one of his more brilliant works, with has as its basis an article presented in an Elementary Guidance Workshop,106 he upholds that curriculum language is to be found immersed in two tyrannical myths: “one is that of learning—the other that of purpose, […] almost magical elements the curricular worker is afraid to ignore, let alone question.”107 He argues that “learning is merely a postulated concept, not a reality and objectives are not always needed for educational planning.”108 In this way, in Dwayne Huebner terms, the major problem in the world of education, which has been short-circuited by behavioral objectives sciences and learning theory, was the fact that we were not dealing with the autobiography, “we were not dealing with life and inspiration.”109

This excessive submission of the field to learning theory and to the model centered on objectives/competences/standards is the result of the language in which the curriculum field has been constructed. It is a language that is full of “dangerous and non-recognized [and unchallenged] myths”110 that makes it impossible to question whether the “technologists were probably going in the wrong direction.”111 This becomes much more complex and alarming in a society in which “the problem is no longer one of explaining change, but of explaining nonchanged,”112 a society faced by a human being that, by his transcendent condition, “has the capacity to transcend what s/he is to become, something that he is not.”113 He illustrates the reductionism of the learning theory in this superbly achieved example:


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2023 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XXXIV, 978 pp., 5 b/w ill., 14 tables.

Biographical notes

João M. Paraskeva (Volume editor)

João M. Paraskeva is a Mozambican born award-winning pedagogue and critical social theorist. The critique places Paraskeva as "undeniably one of the most acclaimed curriculum theorists in the world today." He is currently a Professor at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.


Title: The Curriculum