Visually representing curriculum connections

So this week we had to explore the connections between our philosophical foundations of education, curriculum conceptions and curricular design. Here is how we saw it:

The work of the last couple weeks has led me to consider a few new problems:

  1. Can we really hold more than one curricular conception at once? Many people commented during this module that more than one conception rings true with them If how we teach is based upon what we believe, then isn’t it imperative that we teach a curriculum that matches our beliefs? The theory of cognitive dissonance states yes.
  2. Can curriculum be all things to all people? Ornstein suggests that the job of curricularists is “to search for the middle ground” (108). However, Ornstein and Hunkins also wrote:

In designing a curriculum, we should consider philosophical and learning theories to determine if our design decisions are in consonance with our basic beliefs concerning people, what and how they should learn, and how they should use their acquired knowledge (151).

Is it possible to find a common ground between all these conceptions? To me, the academic perspective and the humanistic perspective seem to be in direct conflict with each other, as does social constructionism and humanism to a degree. Can we really value the integrity of the subjects, yet also value a curriculum that focuses on the process of learning? Are the humanistic and social reconstructivist perspectives not in conflict over who is to benefit from education – the individual or the collective? I don’t have answers to these questions yet, but I do think that it is likely impossible to create a curriculum that meets all of these needs effectively.

3. The third question that keeps coming up for me is the role of culture in the designing of curriculum. The readings we have done have been Western centric in their perspectives. How is curriculum conceived of in other parts of the world? Are there other conceptions that are valued that we have not explored?



Hill, A. M. (1994). Perspectives on philosophical shifts in vocational education: From realism to pragmatism and reconstructionism. Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, 10(2), 37-45.

Ornstein, A. C. (1990/1991). Philosophy as a basis for curriculum decisions. The High School Journal, 74, 102-109.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Read Chapter 6, pp. 149-173.

Sowell, E. J. (2005). Curriculum: An integrative introduction (3rd ed., pp. 52-54, 55-61, 81-85,103-106). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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