Decanonizing the Field
Afterword : Curriculum? Tentative, at Best. Canon? Ain’t No Such Thing
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Curriculum? Tentative, at Best.Canon? Ain’t No Such Thing
Shirley R. Steinberg
Most of us remember our own educational canon being culturally and academically expected. Up until the latter part of the twentieth century, this canon was not flexible for most public schools. Repeated from decade to decade, the canon was the curriculum, consisting of tattered and yellowed hand-me-downs, most without revision. The curriculum was considered classical … the best there can be, not questioned. Teachers, professors, politicians, and parents assumed the validity of the canon and continued to support the texts and lessons. Occasionally, scholars would proclaim a slight change in the educational canon, assuring that certain curricular content be modified or retained. In the case of historical events, the canon was modified according to dominant cultural myth, and it took a long time. In the United States, the “conflict” in Viet Nam (Vietnam) was inserted into the curriculum years after it ended; Civil Rights were added as an afterthought; and the history of Labor … well, you still can’t find it in most school texts. Not only has curriculum been fixed and declared as correct; any changes to it have been politically motivated.
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