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ERIC Number: EJ842872
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-1881-4832
Is the Traditional Curriculum Past Its Prime?
White, John
Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook, n2 p5-16 Dec 2007
I take up recent remarks by Teruhisa Horio about school student disaffection in Japan and see echoes of this in Britain. In that country the traditional school curriculum of discrete largely academic subjects is often taken to be one cause of the problem. I review justifications for it but no sound ones appear to be available. We need to understand how this kind of curriculum came into being and to see whether there were once more adequate reasons for it. Its beginnings lie the educational project begun by the sixteenth-century French philosopher Ramus and his successors, notably Alsted and Comenius. These and others broke away from the prevailing idea that education should focus largely on classical authors and their texts, replacing this with a reordering of knowledge and its transmission within easily assimilable disciplines and subdisciplines based on a single logical method of arranging ideas. The new approach to learning, with its emphasis on discrete areas of knowledge and strict timetabling so that no minute was wasted. was especially prized by radical protestants, especially Calvinists, for whom a comprehensive understanding of God's creation was a necessary condition both of personal salvation and of realising God's purposes on earth. I show how these ideas were promoted in puritan England by Hartlib and Comenius in the mid-seventeenth century and became the basis of dissenting education at the end of that century when the dissenters were excluded from public life. The paper follows the progress of the "modern" curriculum into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The rationale which lay behind this curriculum in its early days became progressively eroded and is now non-existent. We need radically to rethink how we plan the curriculum. This should begin with a careful consideration of what the aims of school education should be and then ask which vehicles are the most suitable to realise these aims. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)