Trivialization of Curriculum

Curriculum and therefore learning and participating in school can be trivialized. Such trivialization can lead to rendering schooling irrelevant and meaningless for many students. A summary of trivialization appears below (see Wood, 1990)

Teaching Strategies

  • Fragmenting knowledge into lists of facts, etc.
  • Mystification of knowledge — complexities are too great for students to understand
  • Omission of controversial, anomalous, or contemporaneous material — "Dumbing Down"
  • Defensive Simplification — ritual of seeming to deal with topics while not actually teaching them

Contributing Factors

  • Teacher deskilling: "Teacher Proofing" the curriculum
  • Mandated curriculum and standardized testing
  • Credentialing schemes
  • Bureaucratic rather than professional and educational norms as basis for operation of schools: "Neutering of Teachers" – taking away teachers' right to make instructional and curricular decisions
  • Requirements for teachers to follow prescribed practices in both the content and implementation of the curriculum without the power to influence the policies governing these prescriptions

Commentary

Over the past several decades, we have seen an increase in teacher de-professionalization. While most teachers are dedicated and competent, politicians and many upper level school district administrators continue to berate teachers and implement policies and curricular mandates that undermine teachers. Even colleges of education are under attack, as is the whole of public education.

As a result of the intense pressure put on teachers by administrators, many teachers succumb. Perfectly fine teachers begin to implement strategies they know are not effective, while they fear for keeping their jobs. This section provides some of the problems involved in the out-of-control trivialization of our education system.

Reference:

  • Wood, G. H. (1990). Teachers as curriculum workers. In J. T. Sears & J. D. Marshall, Teaching and thinking about curriculum: Critical inquiries (pp. 97—109). New York: Teachers College Press.

© 2006 Jeffrey W. Bloom

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