Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.
Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez
Jodi Latremouille, Lesley Tait, and David W. Jardine
Images and practices of relations, aliveness, and love provide a way to reconcile knowledge and its schooled pursuit with the wisdom required in our current, ecologically desperate times. This desperation is rooted, in part, in threads of the efficiency movement that were inherited by education in the early 1900s and left schools with a curriculum legacy that has become exhausted and counterproductive. This inheritance can be countered with ideas from the traditions of hermeneutics and ecological thought. But they are also countered with life-affirming and life-sustaining Cree ideas: wahkohtowin, wicihitowin, and sakihitowin. Practicing these ideas can help align work inside and outside schools with the characteristic spirit (ethos) of our earthly being, and can provide the grounds for a pointed critique of, and alternative to, the regnant regimes of contemporary schooling. wahkohtowin means, briefly put, “all things are related/all things are our relations” and wicihitowin refers to “the life-giving energy that is generated when people face each other as relatives and build trusting relationships by connecting with others in respectful ways.” sakihitowin means “love.” Reimagining curriculum as constituted by living fields of relations while also considering not only the energeia, the “aliveness” that is generated in the face-to-face care of and learning the ways of such living fields, but also the deep affection that is both needed for and produced by such reimagining, increases the prospects of our ecological future and the future of the more-than-human world.