Curriculum is a complicated matter that requires the participation of a variety of stakeholders. In order to create an adequate curriculum, the leaders need to answer the core question of what is worth learning. While there may be a myriad of opinions about the subject, there are four traditions curriculum scholars follow, according to Schubert (1996). First, curriculum leaders may decide to follow the ideas of intellectual traditionalism, which is a promotion of the concept that curriculum needs to be based on the great ideas of the past (Schubert, 1996). In other words, intellectual traditionalists believe that something needs to be included in the curriculum because great people of the past believed it was important. While this approach is rational, there are some evident drawbacks, as the reality changes and knowledge needs to be revised to suit the needs of modern reality.
Second, social behaviorists believe that curriculum creation should be guided by evidence (Schubert, 1996). This implies that knowledge should be included in the curriculum only if there is evidence that confirms that such knowledge is beneficial for the present circumstances. The approach supposes that great ideas of the past should be included in the curriculum only if there is evidence that they are still relevant. Social behaviorists believe that education authorities need to identify the behaviors that help students learn to create a thriving society (Schubert, 1996).
Third, curriculum may be influenced by experientialism, which is a belief that learning should be guided by students’ individual interests and concerns (Schubert, 1996). The followers of this view believe that educators should take a step away from formal teaching methods and try to help the students learn naturally (Schubert, 1996). While this approach seems logical, it is unlikely that the natural learning process is achievable in formal schools. Finally, critical reconstructionists believe that schools deliver a similar message that society is delivering. In other words, schools reproduce the inequity in society and provide different type and quality of education to different groups of students. Curriculum leaders may be influenced by several traditions described above in a varying degree.
I favor the idea of social behaviorism, as it seems the most rational of the ideas. I strongly support the notion that curriculum creation should be based on recent evidence. Education is a complicated matter that includes a wide variety of stakeholders. These stakeholders may have confronting views about the priorities of schooling. The only strategy I can think of to avoid conflict is to base the decisions about curriculum on empirical knowledge that has been confirmed by practice. Incorporating evidence into practice helps to stay objective and avoid biases. Thus, I am a strong support supporter of social behaviorism.
I also find the ideas of intellectual traditionalism critical for curriculum creation. There is no doubt that the ideas of great thinkers of the past should be the basis of any curriculum. Great thinkers are rare, and I believe that their thoughts should be respected. However, these ideas need to be tested, revitalized, and revised to fit the modern reality and meet the needs of society. Evidence is the best available proof that can determine which of the ideas are still relevant and which need to be revised. Thus, I believe the best philosophy to adhere to while creating a curriculum is social behaviorism based on intellectual traditionalism.
Among the four traditions, experientialism is the one that appeals to me the least. While the ideas of the philosophy seem logical and even intuitive, I do not think they are applicable to curriculum creation. I do not believe that the schooling system can mimic the natural learning process created by God, as the process is individual for every person. Thus, I find the ideas of experientialists naïve and impractical.
Schubert, W. H. (1996). Perspectives on four curriculum traditions. Educational Horizons, 74(4), 169-76.