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SOC 3340 (8)
Chapter 8

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 3340
Professor
Victor Ujimoto
Semester
Fall

Description
Week 8 reading Chapter 8 – Curriculum: the Content of Schooling  Includes not only formal programs of instruction, learning material, course content, and lesson plans, but also school rules, procedures and routines  Schools are primary institution for socializing youngsters  Curricular designers are mandated to nurture personal traits and technical competencies that will allow future citizens to contribute to both civic and economic realms  Include teaching facts, promoting technical abilities such as arithmetic and grammar, boosting skills like debating, persuading, reasoning, and critical thinking, promoting fundamental values and virtues such as authority, respect, trust, honesty, civility, fairness, responsibility and tolerance  Controversy – complexity of knowledge in today’s world  Scientific and technical knowledge growing  World cultures are increasingly interlinked  What to include, how to sequence it and how to optimize its breadth and coherence  How schools prioritize some content and forms over others – “stratify” knowledge itself, defining what does and doesn’t count as ‘official’ knowledge  Darwinian evolution and rational logic are 2 examples of the ‘official knowledge’ that school curriculum legitimates  Use curriculum to sort and select students  Schools have institutional authority to rate someone’s ability and intellectual worthiness  Evaluation of students is an important mechanism for generating social stratification  Schools success tied to most people’s eventual occupational attainment  Schools socialize students and aim to mould competent members of society  Schools can reinforce and legitimate some cultural standards and world views – helping them become ‘second nature’  ‘legitimating’ is a central feature of what schools do, and the curriculum serves to effectively affirm the legitimacy of some cognitive models and cultural systems over others  manifest (overt) and latent (hidden) processes that operate in schools  curriculum guidelines don’t highly competition and badges of ability, but theses are important features of schooling Content: The Multiple Dimensions of Modern Progressivism  effective teaching and learning conceptions have been transformed  ‘progressive education’ – style of schooling usually contrasted with more ‘traditional’ styles o aim to make schooling more egalitarian, humanistic, child-centered  shift education emphasis from ‘teacher teaching’ towards ‘student learning’ and towards making the unique needs and interests of the students paramount Week 8 reading  shifts from traditional to progressive: 1. some subjects have withered – ancient languages like Greek, Latin. Reflected modern beliefs that courses should be ‘useful’ 2. revealed by curriculum aimed to accommodate a growing diversity of learners, especially at secondary level. More students staying longer in school, tailored curriculum to a wider variety of abilities and motivations. 3. Curriculum has become more diverse within broad subject categories. More selection among core courses 4. Subject-based ‘book’ knowledge continues to be regarded as superior to more generalized or integrated curriculum and is more valued than practical and vocational training  Contemporary curricula remains stratified  Now richer more challenging curriculum than 1950s or earlier  More options  Learn in more complex array of knowledge at an earlier age Form: Rationalizing and ‘Blocking’ Knowledge  Schools have delivered an increasingly rationalized and bureaucratic curriculum  Small handful of alternative school – ‘free schools’  Forms of the curriculum appears to vary little among mainstream schools  Key elements:  Modern curriculum increasingly involves a division of labour  Time scarce resource in schools  Few hours to accomplish all that’s expected  School knowledge has been increasingly taken the form of discrete chunks – curricular blocks o How rationalization occurs in education  Schooling can feel like an assembly line – block system  The more segregated each block is, the more learning is crammed into inelastic time windows  Blocks highlight certain education dilemmas  When insulated – students become progressively separated one from another, and this is exacerbated when coupled with greater teacher-centered activity  Where blocks have tightly controlled boundaries, students are rewarded for thinking ‘inside the block’  Learn what questions are appropriate and which aren’t  Questions transcending blocks tend to be ignored, ruled out as beyond the domain of that block  This process alienates students, and helps prepare compliant workers  Some educators called for ‘flexible block scheduling’  Blocks have benefits Week 8 reading  Working ‘inside the block’ provides teachers with a much easier sense of student mastery of subject material  Blocks can promote specialized skill and knowledge  Stress of human capital theory and functionalism – need to develop specific and relevant skills  Subject blocks not all equally valued  This is stratification of knowledge, the differential valuation of subjects  Demographics represent an important rationalizing pressure on the curriculum  Expansion and diversification of students attending school for longer periods have presented school systems a huge range of academic competencies, preparedness, and motivations and administrators have responded with standardized, manageable timetables  Mix of progressivism and rationalization  Blocks represent a particular rationalized form of modern, progressive curricula More Rationalized Form: Types of Evaluation, Assessment and Testing  Modern schools do a lot of appraising, assessing, evaluating, examining, grading, judging, marking, quizzing, and testing  Functionalists and human capital theory – evaluation under
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