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Article

The notion of ecological interdependence, a fundamental concept in the study of ecology and the interrelatedness of living organisms, provides both a metaphorical and literal understanding of how individuals come to understand their place in the world—social, political, and environmental. Given the grim realities of a changing climate, and its inevitable impact on human ways of living, examination of the relationships between humans and the environments in which we live is paramount. Such examinations entail an analysis of the intricate webs of interdependence among organisms. Drawing upon the curricular concepts of integrated and core curriculum, we find a parallel to the dynamic and emergent ways of ecological relationships. Embodied curriculum and outside curriculum provide a foundation for curricular integration, advancing a core curriculum of interdependence. Thus curriculum workers must realize ways in which a core of ecological interdependence enables us to view the world differently, examining human relationships with and within the world. This approach is seen, in part, throughout environmental education programs, from forest schools to informal learning at nature centers. However, a core of ecological interdependence advances a continual examination of the interdependence of living things, and interactions between humans and the nonhuman world, as a central organizing theme in curriculum. Moreover, such an approach eschews the underpinning assumptions of a capitalist democratic state and seeks a conversation among beings and knowledges. A core of ecological interdependence recognizes the importance of ecological relationships for their substantive content as well as for what they teach as an epistemological orientation to curriculum-making.

Article

Christopher B. Crowley

The study of the curriculum and educational knowledge is a study of ideology. The curriculum is never neutral. It always reflects or embodies ideological positions. Ideologies present within the curriculum are negotiated and formulated through multilayered processes of strategic compromise, assent, and resistance. And as such, the curriculum ideologies become operationalized in both overt and hidden means—constructing subjects and objects of knowledge in active as well as passive ways. Teaching is always a political act, and discussions and debates over curriculum ideologies have a long history within the field of curriculum studies. In terms of its function related to the organization and valuing of knowledge, it remains important to recognize not only the contested nature of the curriculum but also how such contestations have ideological dimensions in the framing of the curriculum. Curriculum ideologies manifest in terms of what might be thought of as values, visions of the future, and venues or forms. This is to say, the curriculum is imbued with processes for valuing assumed choices related to its design, development, and implementation. These choices draw from ideologically based assumptions about the curriculum’s basis in political, economic, historical, sociocultural, psychological, and other realities—whether they be discursive or material in effect. Additionally, these curriculum choices also pertain to the means by which the curriculum achieves these goals or objectives through the formulation of designed experiences, activities, or other forms of learning opportunities. The curriculum—in certain regards as finding principle in the conveying of knowledge through a system of organization related to an outset purpose—has, as a central component to some degree, a vision of a future. The curriculum is something simultaneously constructed and enacted in the present, with often the expressed purpose of having implications and ramifications for the future. The curriculum’s role and purpose in constructing both tested and untested or imagined feasibilities again has to do with some type of vision of learning inflected by ideology. This may even take the form of envisioning a future that is actually a vision of the past in some form, or perhaps a returning to a remembered time that may have existed for some but not others, or by extension a similarly romanticized remembering of a mythic past, for instance. Ultimately, the curriculum, whether translated into practice or in being developed conceptually, is in all likelihood never exclusively one of these, but instead is in all probability an amalgamation of such to differing degrees wherein a multitude of possibilities and combinations exist. Among the key questions of curriculum studies that remain central in terms of both analyzing and theorizing the curriculum are: Whose knowledge counts and what is worthwhile? These questions help to raise to a level of concern the ideological underpinnings of all curricula in ways that through sustained critical dialog might work to collectively build a more sustainably just and equitable world.

Article

The application of curriculum theory and models of curriculum development to museum education helps inform the analysis of the representational, communicative, epistemological, and cognitive dimensions of the formal, informal, and nonformal learning that takes place in the museum setting. Museums and other in/nonformal learning environments implicitly and explicitly engage questions of worth inherent to curriculum inquiry. Within the Curriculum Studies field, such questions reflect both an historical and a contemporary concern with issues of diversity, accessibility, social justice, civic value, and human rights in school and non-school curriculum contexts. In addition to other curriculum analysis frameworks, international instances of museum education curricula can be understood through the lenses of three “human interests”: the technical, the practical, and the emancipatory. A preference for designing educational materials and experiences around predetermined objectives reflects a technical interest in museum curricula. Within this technical approach, which can also be conceptualized as curriculum as product, the success or failure of a curriculum depends on the degree to which the intended objectives are achieved. Curriculum as practice reflects a practical interest in the way understanding and knowledge are created (rather than simply transmitted) through the dynamic social interactions between teacher and learner. A curriculum as practice orientation aligns with constructivist views on museum learning. Representing an emancipatory interest in human liberation and the overcoming of oppressive social structures is the curriculum as praxis orientation. This approach to museum curricula often assumes a social justice goal of community empowerment that seeks to translate understanding or consciousness-raising into action.

Article

William Ayers, Rick Ayers, and Joel Westheimer

Social movements change the world. Thus, they shape curriculum. Participation in movements educates the public by altering viewpoints and actions. Likewise, participants learn through participation in social movements; therefore, social movements can be considered curricula. The experiences of social movements are curricula that exist in and out of schools. Examples of the myriad connections among school curriculum, nonschool curriculum, and social movements interact in dynamic fluidity. Curriculum is much more than a course syllabus, set of plans, or the indoctrinations or liberations intended by schools. Curriculum includes all experiences of schooling and contexts that influence schooling: intended, taught, tested, hidden, excluded, outside, peer-driven, and more. It encompasses knowledge, relationships, and interpretations that students bring to school or anywhere else. These multiple dimensions of curriculum also exist in the diverse experiences, institutions, and gatherings of everyday life. Alternative forms of curriculum have been envisioned and enacted over the centuries to overcome the dominance of autocratic forms of education. Social movements educate and are therefore curricular. A noteworthy example of curricula of social movements is the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Mississippi Freedom Schools in the United States. Another example is the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, founded by Myles Horton and based on the Danish model of folk schools, which was a center of inspiration and praxis for participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Emancipatory educational movements are exemplified in the problem-posing work of Paulo Freire, initially in Brazil, evolving to counter the oppressiveness of “banking” forms of education in many parts of the world. Freire has shown how oppressed persons could be major creators of their own education, by learning to name, write, and read the world to compose a more just world. In the second decade of the 21st century, young climate activists, such as Xiye Bastida and Greta Thunberg, have advocated ecological renewal; this has grown into a worldwide movement, captured in the title “Fridays for Future.” Local examples include the insightful stories in The Journal of Ordinary Thought, inspired and evoked by Hal Adams and authored by the parents of students in some of Chicago’s most impoverished Black neighborhoods in the late 20th century. Global movements include Black Lives Matter, which has manifested itself as an act of solidarity in the second decade of the 21st century. Social movements, of which the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. are an emblematic example, teach the power of learning and the learning of power. They help raise the deepest and most worthwhile questions: What does it mean to be human? Who am I in relation to others? What kind of a society do we want to create? How can schools and other public spaces become generative sites of contention and authentic engagement? That is where a curriculum of social movements comes to life. What lessons might educators learn from the examples of a curriculum of social movements? How should we live? How will we live? What will you do about it?