Conceptions of cirriculum Essay


            The mind and society are inseparable with a vital connection that transcends beyond education and society (Webster 1997, p - Conceptions of cirriculum Essay introduction. 169). This is why educational experiences are related to “character formation, communicative capacities, the adoption of moral values, reasoning abilities, human behavior, labor productivity, social problems, and social change” (Webster 1997, p. 169).

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            The education system and the practices it employs play a great role in shaping the mind and in transforming societal relations (Webster 1997, p. 169). From this standpoint comes the conception of a multicultural curriculum theory that stands for the liberation of the education system from any form of oppression and injustice in the society (Webster 1997, p. 169).

            In the field of curriculum two contrasting paradigms exist, one from the modern point of view and the other with a postmodern perspective. Both views have different notions of what an education curriculum should be or should not be by different hosts of influences (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 6). The modern view has been influenced by the perception of how schools should be like; they are also impacted by parental memories of what school experiences should be (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 6).

            They are molded by societal expectations of providing for a productive adult citizenry for the society (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 6).  They believe in standardized tests, teacher accountability, describing school as a factory and competing view of valuable knowledge (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 6).

            On the other hand, the postmodern paradigm has criticized modernists to have failed to ensure equal opportunities for students, that the modernists have promoted values of a dominant class, the view to have been saturated with political and economic practices, suppressed the needs and identities of the students, silence marginalized groups, disregarded the acknowledgement for cultural pluralism, context, and locale (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 7).

            The postmodernist view had provided new grounds for research and curriculum conception and a perspective that would engage in the understanding of multicultural discourses (Schubert et al 2002, p.368). The context that was provided by this curriculum is presented in curriculum theory that reconstructs the curriculum and adapts a context of difference and respect for individuality (Schubert et al 2002, p.368).

            In the rise of globalization wherein new kinds of identities are created and there is a fear to have an eroding sense of national identity, the curriculum studies now leads to the question of how it would impact this emerging global community (Smith 2003, p. 36). Aside from answering educational issues like, how much is knowledge worth and so on because of the dominant mode of the globalization theory, there is a need to go back still to the curriculum that involves a multicultural inclusion (Smith 2003, p. 36).

Essay on Conceptions of Curriculum and Paradigms for Research

            In Reid’s (1997) paper on “Conceptions of Curriculum and Paradigms for Research: The Case of School Effectiveness Studies,” he discussed about what schools actually do. It reflects of the different kinds of curriculums and how they were created in a model of intention rather on that is of function (Reid 1997, p. 225).

            The first intention for the schools was for the economic growth of the country (Reid 1997, p. 217). The education of the students was seen as an investment for the future of the country. The growth of education was perceived as the growth of the wealth of the country.  School effectiveness was actually gauged on the numbers of students who have gone to school and receive an education.

            Effectiveness was based on the quantity of students alone. Schools were there to “fuel economic growth” because the investment given to schools, especially to public schools was perceived to translate to the growth of output as well (Reid 1997, p. 217).

            A more popular perception of schools was when curriculum was transformed and geared towards teaching equality and social justice to the students (Reid 1997, p. 219). This was somewhat on the surface as the concern was to make equal the achievement level of the students. The focus of this curriculum is to close the gap of educational achievement and it meant providing for remedial class for children, especially those in the inner cities (Reid 1997, p. 220). Ideally, the perception of an effective school was one that provided for equal opportunities for students, to eradicate social class differences and to keep students in school (Reid 1997, p. 220).

            Another intention of the school’s curriculum is to make good citizens (Reid 1997, p. 222). They are taught how uphold law and order and to behave like ideal citizens of the country. The output was based on school ethos (Reid 1997, p. 222).  Ethos referred to the input needed to produce good citizens (Reid 1997, p. 223).

            There are characteristics that were definitive of such curriculum that promoted good citizenship. First is strong leadership, since they are the future of the country there is a need for them to develop this earlier on, as some may be potential lawmakers of the land (Reid 1997, p. 223). They also have a clear statement of aims as well as a consensus of aims as this exemplifies the subjective nature of the citizens even when they are schooling (Reid 1997, p. 223).

            Basic learning is given emphasis (Reid 1997, p. 223). This is seen with the general subjects that are given to the students all over the country. These subjects are uniform and the same that ensured the equality again (Reid 1997, p. 223). They are also given high expectations for the outcomes of learning in terms of student achievements and standard passing grades (Reid 1997, p. 223).

            The schools also provide for good employees (Reid 1997, p. 223). The schools are perceived as a factory or a supplier of skills and attitudes that can be found in the students as they enter in the world (Reid 1997, p. 224).  The schools provide for the skills that are needed by the businesses in order to function well (Reid 1997, p. 224). They achieve the capability through a transformation process rather than one from an input of resources.

Related Perspective from other Literature

            Good Citizens. In the present times, schools are still seen as institutions with a mission to prepare the future leaders of the new century (Harrington 2003, p. 46). There is a noticeably sheltered status when it comes to the ever-changing institution of higher education. There is a competition in the education market to provide a higher education in the economic sense (Harrington 2003, p. 46).

            This is a prevailing conception of curriculum with how the schools teach students to have lifelong citizen skills (Curriculum Review 2007, 7). Themes that are still actively included in the general curriculum involved being an active citizen, having knowledge of the country’s history and deliberation (Curriculum Review 2007, 7). The integration of classroom lessons with activities like yearly community service projects and other activities foster for the conception of being a good citizen to be prevalent in school curriculums (Curriculum Review 2007, 7).

            Economic Growth. Since it the education system has turned into a market, there is a competition for schools to offer the students with the best possible offer of benefits in the form of convenience, flexibility, job-related curriculums, and a lower cost structure (Harrington 2003, pp. 46+). The education system cannot remain tangible for the market to be picked up by students.

            Basic Concepts. As there is now a current challenge of relevance, in the main conception of curriculum there is the presence of providing the students with basic concepts to live by and relate to (Harrington 2003, pp. 46+). However, most of the times students are left with having accumulated a certain number of courses without gaining any coherent body of knowledge that the student can relate to his or her real life (Harrington 2003, pp. 46+). The university has given to little value of giving them credentials that go beyond equipping them to find a job (Harrington 2003, pp. 46+). It has continued to be an “economic imperative but not a moral imperative” (Harrington 2003, pp. 46+).

            Uniformity. There is also a change of perception in terms of seeing the schools as a “school system” rather than a “system of schools” this becomes a new level of effectiveness (Keen 2007, p. 52). This translates to uniformity in the education system to be the new norm for what effective and quality meant (Keen 2007, p. 52).

            Teacher Factor. The identity of the teacher is given importance in the postmodern context and is not merely a person that can be labeled as a scapegoat if achievement levels are not met or if things are not achieved in the curriculum (Shubert et al. 2002, p. 373).  However, power is attributed to the teachers as the arbiter of self-expression and how the teacher can shape the curriculum, maybe not according to the demands of others with other intentions but for the students’ guidance (Shubert et al. 2002, p. 373). “Fashioning the curriculum” is part of the teachers’ life and most of the time it should not be strictly dictated to them that they resort to mindless following and teaching of irrelevant facts (Shubert et al. 2002, p. 373).

Curriculum Theory

Traditional View

            The traditional view of curriculum is grounded on the belief that reality is taught in the classroom out of careful planning of the learning experiences that would take place in school (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 11). The movement was founded on the assumption that experiences are created by “pre-established objectives” and if this was done the students would attain a specified educational outcome, leaving no room for individuality or any multi-perspective (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 11).

            The selection of such experiences is given to the task of the teacher alone and the students’ desires must not be considered or are considered insignificant (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 11). According to this perception, the teachers should perform a role that is authoritative and directive (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 11). The teacher is also considered as the absolute expert in the subject manner and should be the final arbiter of knowledge (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 11).

Contemporary View

            This view promotes the progressivists point of view regarding school curriculums. They believe in a more humanistic and relevant approach to the students’ interests and lives outside of the classroom (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13). They relate by using real life and out-of-classroom experiences to have the students comprehend the lesson (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13).

            Unlike the first view, this perspective is constructed around the students’ needs (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13). They are taught to behave in a democratic manner wherein the teacher takes on the role of a facilitator or a guide and not as the final arbiter of knowledge (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13).

            She or he is seen to guide the students through the learning process and allowing for them to develop critical thinking along the way without having to spoon-feed them every piece of information (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13).

            This view also advocates a less than authoritarian environment wherein they view the teachers as agents of change who would help the students get smart, even in the streets, and to see the relevance of the lessons to their lives (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13). The students are taught to use different methods of critical thinking like inquiry methods and social sciences among other skills as well as subjects (Glandz and Horenstein 2000, p. 13).

            Curriculum Reform. Such differing views can only suggest for one thing. Curriculum reform, part of the conception of a curriculum is changing it until it becomes most effective for the parties involved. Even diverse groups share the common expectation of curriculum reform (Klein 1994, p. 19).

            As reforms occur there is also a change in expectations in the parties as changes dictates the policy makers that propose the best solution and advocate for it (Klein 1994, p. 20). In order to nurture significant changes in the curriculum design, theory and practice must be utilized (Klein 1994, p. 27). Change also accompanies new schools of though regarding the education and the development of respect for different classroom practices (Klein 1994, p. 28).

Personal Conception

            The multicultural curriculum conception stands on tolerance and respect for different cultures and the various perspectives on racial diversity that exists in the schools and in society (Webster 1997, p. 1). As the original school conception of promoting equality and social justice was adapted long ago, this conception goes on a step further in that direction (Reid 1997, p. 219). This conception promotes equality and social justice in terms of cultural differences and deviates from suggesting any cultural inferiority to eradicate social injustice and inequality in society (Webster 1997, p.1).

            This curriculum has received many criticisms from a lot of valid points that is feasible to address and overcome. The question lies in the fact that how come other intentions from past conceptions were widely accepted while this conception of multiculturalism is only an offshoot of the conception of equality and social justice as well as good citizenship something highly criticized?

            This conception reflects of the new world the students live in. It reflects on something more relevant and displays cultural diversity in the rise of the globalization. This conception is aimed to eradicate stereotyping as well as prejudice in society that has caused unnecessary division and hatred in the world, especially after the September-11 attacks in New York City.

            This conception calls for the inclusion of “minority cultures” as well as the varying relevance the curriculum must have to a diverse set of people (Webster 1997, p.1). This curriculum enhances the self-esteem of the students of color to improve their academic performance to truly address the call for equality amongst all students in the country (Webster 1997, p.1).

            The implementation of such a culture would promote sociopolitical issues to be discussed and understood more than the basic concepts that are imbued into the education of the students (Webster 1997, p.2). Ethnic and racial diversity are not the only groups that would be included in the conception of the curriculum, there would be issues about the inclusion of gender and gender equality as well (Webster 1997, p.2). This conception would result not only in the change in the system of public education but in the restructuring of the social identities of the citizens (Webster 1997, p.2). More than promoting social justice and equality, it is redefining what it means to be good citizens (Reid 1997, p. 222).

Issues of a Multiculturalism Conception

            In a global perspective of this conception, multiculturalism curriculum actually adapts for a global education curriculum planning because of its tolerance for ethnic diversity (Cross and Molnar 1994, p. 138). There are differing world views in the society and adapting a multicultural curriculum would enable the students to not only relate with a diverse citizenry but with the global community (Cross and Molnar 1994, p. 138).

            Considerations and tedious planning should be prepared for in terms of synthesizing world views in order to address a truly multicultural curriculum (Cross and Molnar 1994, p. 138).  Educators cannot discard truths, values and beliefs of other orientations just because it is different from theirs and it is inconsistent with the widely accepted norms of society (Cross and Molnar 1994, p. 138).

            In the local level, issues of social and economic justice cannot escape the curriculum (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 260). When new issues arise, it is part of the multicultural education to shift and expand but have their goals consistent as ever (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 260). Identity is always an issue that anti-multiculturalists bring up because of the diffusion of subjects in the curriculum. However, it must be addressed that this can be the new identity that the country should have, if it truly would want to promote social equality and justice, this should be the next step to proving it (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 260). The key is not being overwhelmed by the diversity the curriculum brings to the table but to see its potential for the country’s wealth of culture (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 260).

            There has been a growing range of educational materials being created for a multicultural curriculum and the system has been perceived as something positive and it is still growing (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 259). There had been state curriculum guidelines and teacher certification requirements that include multicultural standards that represent the growing attention and recognition it has been garnering in the education community (Ramsey et al. 2002, p. 259).

            There are also those parents who choose to have a multicultural educational experience for their children (Pinar 2004, p. 228). The proliferation of such curriculums must allow for greater experimentation for in the education system as the curriculum is the “intellectual and organizational center of educational experience” (Pinar 2004, p. 228).


            “Competence, confidence, encouragement, and interests” are themes that can overlap from the students homes to the schools and these are concepts that they can bring when they go find work (Reynolds and Webber 2004, p. 179).  It is critical to determine the conception of curriculum and how that suits the ideals and values of the nations. It is very crucial to determine what curriculum would be adopted all across the country because it has the power to shape what kind of country it would be in ten years or less.

            A review of how the conception of curriculum was addressed can reflect how the education system has been long subject under a very traditional and modern view as it adheres to uniformity so that it can easily fit into an economic entity rather than a learning and moral institution that is geared towards the child’s optimum development as a human being.

            Theories have shown the differing views of the paradigms and it shows how a more controlled system is applied in able to use the education system to mold the students into the kind of citizens they find ideal for the country’s welfare and economy. Some views are abstract in terms of quality and effectiveness, sometimes that can even cover the abstract quality of true equality of social justice as multiculturalism conception remains to be something that is not widely accepted and even criticized in the academe.


“Connecting the Past to the Future.” (2007). Curriculum Review (46)5, 7.

Cross, B. and Molnar, A. (1994). Global Issues in Curriculum Development. PJE (69) 138-139

Glandz, J. and Horenstein, L. (2000).Paradigm Debates in Curriculum and Supervision: Modern and Postmodern Perspectives. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Harrington, L. (2003). To Seek a Newer World: Revitalizing Liberal Education for the 21st Century. Liberal Education (89)2, 46+.

Keen, M. (2007). Moving as One in the Same Direction. School Administrator (64)6, 52.

Klein, M. (1994). The Toll for Curriculum Reform. Peabody Journal of Education (69)3.

Pinar, W. (2004). What Is Curriculum Theory? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Ramsey, P., Williams, E. and Battle, V. (2002). Multicultural Education: A Sourcebook. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Reid, W. (1997). Conceptions of curriculum and paradigms for research: The case of school effectiveness studies. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, (12) 3, 217+.

Reynolds, W. and Webber, J. (2004). Expanding Curriculum Theory: Dis/Positions and Lines of Flight. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schubert, W. ,Schubert, A., Thomas, T. and Carroll, W. (2002). Curriculum Books: The First Hundred Years. New York: Peter Lang.

Smith, D. (2003). Curriculum and teaching face globalization in The International Handbook of Curriculum Research, ed. Pinar, W. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Webster, Y. (1997). Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative. Wesport, CT: Praeger Publishers.


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