The third edition of Curriculum: From Theory to Practice provides an introduction to curriculum theory and how it relates to classroom practice. Wesley Null builds upon recent developments while continuing to provide a unique organization of the curriculum field into five traditions: systematic, existential, radical, pragmatic, and deliberative. Null discusses the philosophical foundations of curriculum as well as historical and contemporary figures who have shaped each curriculum tradition. To ensure breadth and scope, Null has expanded this edition to include new figures, address rapid changes in democratic society, and chart a path to inclusion and wise decision-making.
Wesley Null is vice provost for undergraduate education at Baylor University. He also serves as professor of curriculum and foundations of education in the School of Education and the Honors College. At Baylor, Null collaborates with all deans and vice provosts to maintain a common vision for undergraduate education, oversees undergraduate curriculum for the university, supervises staff who provide academic and advising support for all undergraduates, works closely to the Office of Student Life to supervise living-learning programs, and oversees institutional accreditation for the University. Null is the author of Peerless Educator: The Life and Work of Isaac Leon Kandel (2007) and A Disciplined Progressive Educator: The Life and Career of William Chandler Bagley (2004). He is co-editor, with Diane Ravitch, of Forgotten Heroes of American Education: The Great Tradition of Teaching Teachers (2006). He has co-edited several other books as well, including Readings in American Educational Thought: From Puritanism to Progressivism (2009) and The Pursuit of Curriculum: Schooling and the Public Interest (2006). Null also has served as president of the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum and Editor of the American Educational History Journal. He lives in Woodway, Texas with his wife, Dana, and their two children, Raegan and Corbin.
Figures and Textboxes
Foreword to the Third Edition (Chara Haeussler Bohan)
Foreword to the Second Edition (Jared Stallones)
Foreword to the First Edition (David M. Callejo-Perez)
Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction: What Is Curriculum and Why Does It Matter?
Curriculum versus Education
Why Curriculum Matters
What Is a Liberating Curriculum?
Thesis and Structure of the Book
Brief Book Overview
PART I: CURRICULUM TRADITIONS
1 Liberal Education (and Curriculum) for All
Origins of a Liberal Curriculum
The Christian Era and the Liberal Arts Ideal
The Rise of Democracy
Universal Liberal Curriculum and Deliberation
John Dewey and Democratic Education
Joseph Schwab’s Challenge to Curriculum
The Five Commonplaces of Curriculum
Why the Language of Commonplaces?
Commonplace #1: Teachers
Commonplace #2: Learners
Commonplace #3: Subject Matter
Commonplace #4: Context
Commonplace #5: Curriculum Making
A Map for Curriculum Makers
The Horizontal Axis
The Vertical Axis
The Curriculum Map and the Five Curricular Traditions
2 Systematic Curriculum
No Child Left Behind and Systematic Curriculum
Curriculum Standards as a System
The Rise of Common Core State Standards
Background on the Systematic Curriculum Tradition
John Franklin Bobbitt
Werrett Wallace Charters
The Free-Market System and Curriculum
What about Curriculum?
Systematic Curriculum and the Commonplaces
Conclusion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Systematic Curriculum
3 Existentialist Curriculum
Alfie Kohn and Curriculum for Personal Choice
Maxine Greene and Existential Curriculum
Elliot Eisner and Artistic Existentialism
William F. Pinar and Curriculum Reconceptualization
Some Background on Existentialist Curriculum
G. Stanley Hall and Developmental Curriculum
William Heard Kilpatrick and Project-Based Curriculum
Existentialist Curriculum and the Commonplaces
Conclusion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Existentialist Curriculum
4 Radical Curriculum
Michael Apple and Radical Curriculum
Ideology and Curriculum
Paulo Freire and Radical Curriculum
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Radical Christian Curriculum
Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Dreamkeepers, and Radical Curriculum
Some Background on Radical Curriculum
Dare the School Build a New Social Order? and Curriculum
Harold Rugg and Radical Social Studies Curriculum
Radical Curriculum and the Commonplaces
Conclusion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Radical Curriculum
5 Pragmatic Curriculum
Ted Sizer and Pragmatic Curriculum
Horace Smith’s Compromised Curriculum
Sizer’s Pragmatic System
Harry K. Wong and Pragmatic Curriculum
Background on Pragmatic Curriculum
John Dewey and the Philosophical Roots of Pragmatic Curriculum
Dewey in the 1890s
Dewey in 1916
Dewey during the Great Depression
Ralph Tyler and Pragmatic Curriculum
Tyler and the Roots of Curriculum Deliberation
Pragmatic Curriculum and the Commonplaces
Conclusion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Pragmatic Curriculum
6 Deliberative Curriculum
William A. Reid and Deliberative Curriculum
Thinking about the Curriculum
Reid on Curriculum and Liberal Education
Ian Westbury and Deliberative Curriculum
Westbury on Liberal Education
Westbury on Bildung, Didaktik, and Curriculum
Cheryl J. Craig and Deliberative Curriculum through Teachers
Some Background on Deliberative Curriculum
Schwab and Deliberation
Richard McKeon: Rhetoric and Humanity in the Curriculum
McKeon on Rhetoric and Curriculum
McKeon on the Theory–Practice Relationship and Deliberation
Deliberative Curriculum and the Commonplaces
Conclusion: Strengths and Weaknesses of Deliberative Curriculum
PART II: CURRICULUM PRACTICE
7 What Should We Do with State Curriculum Standards?
The Idea of Curriculum Standards
Jesse Parker: High School U.S. History Teacher
Resolving Mr. Parker’s Problems
Kathy Waterman: Social Studies Department Chair
Resolving Ms. Waterman’s Problems
Michelle Ochoa: Fifth-Grade Teacher
Resolving Ms. Ochoa’s Problems
8 How Can We Reestablish a Core Curriculum at Our University?
Northern State University
Dr. Martin Fitzgerald
Resolving Provost Fitzgerald’s Problems
Lack of Faculty Support
Lack of Balance between Teaching and Research
Resolving President Rankin’s Problems
The Diversity Concern
The Relevant Curriculum Argument
The “Why More Religion?” Critique
9 What Should We Do to Create a Better Teacher Ed Curriculum?
Western State University
Dean John Mason
WSU: The Context
President Jenice Longfellow
Dr. Ronnie Lopez
Provost Barry Barnett
Dean Michael Leadbetter
Resolving Dean Mason’s Problems
Freedom Hill College
President Martin Westland
Dean Eugene Barker
Dr. Theresa Moore, Assistant Professor
Resolving President Westland’s Problems
Resolving Dr. Theresa Moore’s Problems
10 Curriculum with Virtue: A Future for Deliberative Curriculum
The Ancient Roots of Curriculum Deliberation
What Is Virtue and How Does It Relate to Curriculum?
Faith and Curriculum
John Amos Comenius and a Liberal Curriculum for All
Appendix A: Curriculum Dilemmas
Intelligent Design vs. Evolution: Teach It or Ignore It?
Curriculum Dilemma #1
Should I Talk to the Principal or Not?
Curriculum Dilemma #2
Must I Teach Phonics?
Curriculum Dilemma #3
Should I Confront the Principal or Ignore What I Saw?
Curriculum Dilemma #4
Should I Give the Star Running Back a Break or Uphold Standards?
Curriculum Dilemma #5
Should American Sign Language Count as a Foreign Language?
Curriculum Dilemma #6
Should Your Department Accept Dual-Credit Courses for Transfer Credit?
Curriculum Dilemma #7
About the Author
Wesley Null’s latest edition of Curriculum: From Theory to Practice represents a reawakening of the critically important work of curriculum development—work that largely looks to make improvements to the institution of schooling in the interest of lifting the lives of school children and strengthening the bonds of democracy. Given the manner in which the modern-day curriculum studies community has cast the idea of the normative as delimiting and hegemonic (and the proclivity that it has shown to view the institutional structure of the school as fundamentally imperialistic), it is refreshing to encounter the progressive tones of Null’s work, including the manner in which he favors the deliberative tradition of curriculum work that valorizes local voice, cautions against the promotion of universally valid interventions, and invokes the organic consideration of the teacher, the learner, and the subject matter in the creation of an educational experience.
Just when the study of curriculum has all but vanished and those remaining have pursued other interests or jobs, along comes this elegant book, Curriculum: From Theory to Practice, which Wesley Null has significantly revised for its third edition. In an evenhanded way, he presents the five curriculum traditions and illuminates where they potentially intersect. The linking of these traditions to liberal education—indeed, to democracy—makes this volume one that readers will cherish in the years to come.
In the new third edition of Curriculum, Wesley Null portrays curriculum theory as a salient guide to practice in schools. He shows how five curriculum theory postures (systematic, existentialist, radical, pragmatic, and deliberative) speak to both historical educational dilemmas and recent threats to democracy that plague the world. While Null sees valuable attributes in each tradition, he advocates for the deliberative as the most insightful and effective. Unlike many other curriculum scholars who hold that whole societies or cultures embody curricula, Null’s focus is clearly addressed to those who pursue practical school improvement: curriculum leaders, policymakers, teachers, and teacher educators. He includes sections that enable them to address everyday dilemmas faced over standards, core curricula, teacher education, and matters of virtue vis-à-vis deliberative curriculum. The text is well-organized, well-expressed, and it will enable readers to reflect on and justify their work. I urge them to ponder Null’s messages deeply.
In an age when most public discourse lacks contemplative deliberation, Wesley Null reminds educators and policy makers of the necessity to think carefully, deeply, and together when framing curriculum. A text that surveys the many philosophical and theoretical traditions of curriculum-making in clear and balanced language would be a significant accomplishment on its own, but Null does this and more. He provides readers with practical guidance through case studies and dilemmas that encourage each new generation of educators to engage in these timeless and inspiring conversations. Wesley Null demonstrates that deliberative curriculum-making is the best path toward a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive curriculum for all students.
As the field of education searches for common understandings and meanings during these uncertain times, Wesley Null's Curriculum provides a foundation for educators to address the problems and issues of teaching and learning. Null organizes the cacophony of the curriculum field into intellectual traditions and patterns that allow neophyte and veteran educators to reconsider and to better understand their beliefs and practices. By addressing the dilemmas of curriculum and placing them within the context of educational settings, Curriculum: From Theory to Practice, Third Edition becomes a general education treatise for teachers, professors, and administrators at all levels, allowing us to see new possibilities and opportunities for change.
From Wesley Null’s first formal study of curriculum at Eastern New Mexico University in 1995, the fact that he was beginning a lifelong journey as a student of the field was clear. The third edition of his Curriculum: From Theory to Practice continues his tradition of clearly and succinctly sharing a portion of what he has learned during that journey, introducing others to the vital aspect of education we call curriculum. A constant throughout Null’s work has been the reality that theory and practice both are necessary for curriculum to be meaningful; neither alone is sufficient. Action devoid of theoretical and historical contexts results in little more than a process of trial and error. At the same time, curriculum ultimately must involve real issues, in real schools, with real students and teachers. Wesley Null’s third edition of Curriculum: From Theory to Practice offers students an interesting and thorough beginning for their own journeys into the curriculum, so they will have opportunities to improve schools in meaningful and substantive ways.
Using the five commonplaces as a familiar framework, Null, in this third edition, adds contemporary curriculum authors and discusses curriculum philosophies among current events and student diversity within today’s society. My students and I have so enjoyed using his text. I am excited to implement these dynamic changes in this new edition in my curriculum course.
Wesley Null’s third edition of Curriculum: From Theory to Practice is a much-needed and anticipated update to this foundational book on the history of education and real-world applications of curriculum theory in K–16 education. The inclusion of Cheryl Craig's work in the deliberative tradition chapter and Gloria Ladson-Billings's work in the radical tradition chapter provides students with greater insights into the on-going process of curricular theorizing, and the importance of amplifying diverse perspectives and voices about curriculum theory during these socio-economically and politically fraught times since the publication of the second edition in 2016. This text serves as an important tool for graduate students to grasp how historical contexts shape—and continue to shape—the purpose and meaning of curriculum through analysis of each of the theories’ strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, Null’s examples of how these major curricular theories can be implemented in classrooms serves as an important connection between theory and practice for scholars and in-service teachers. I found this book to be user-friendly for doctoral students who are introduced not only to curriculum theory, but to history of education as well. Through their reading of Null’s book, my students gain a greater appreciation for the need to research historical contexts of theory in order to continue to grow as informed leaders in their schools and communities who advocate for social justice and the interest of learners of all ages.
Grounded in Joseph Schwab’s commonplaces, Wesley Null advances a deliberative approach to curriculum theorizing and development and provides historical insight into key public and professional perspectives concerning curriculum—including their fluctuations and trends. His pairing of historical insight and deliberative practice provides a basis for readers contemplating how values such as individual or collective expression, freedom, and justice have and can be transmitted through curriculum. This timely revision is a must-read (and re-read) for those hoping to participate in curriculum deliberations spanning homes, school boards, social media platforms, and politicians’ offices.
As times evolve, Null continues to expand his exploration of curriculum—both past and present. His third edition incorporates the new challenges and realities that face education while providing historical context, various perspectives, and competing approaches to curriculum development.
Curriculum: From Theory to Practice, Third Edition is the perfect place for educators who are beginning to study curriculum-making. My students and I enjoy reading and discussing this text as part of our study of curriculum because the content is organized in a way that promotes further study of the topics presented.
Educational professionals, no matter your philosophical orientation to curriculum, will find much to stimulate your thinking in this new edition. Anyone involved in the development of curriculum will find an approach to help teachers and administrators to become reflective, observant, and introspective. Wesley Null’s book provides a traditional to contemporary view of how curriculum has evolved over time, including proponents, influences, and controversies for each time period. Null, an expert on curriculum history and development, has authored with his third edition a valuable resource and an opportunity to think and dialogue about the critical issues that surround creating and implementing curriculum.
In his comprehensive yet digestible text, Wesley Null offers educators a meaningful way to examine, understand, and apply complex curriculum theories and histories. Rather than taking one side or the other in the curriculum debates, Null offers the depth required for readers to make their own judgments. Those who are seeking to answer the classic curriculum questions of “What should be taught, to whom, and for what purposes?” would do well to use Null’s work as a guide. Both a thematic and historical text, this work provides a foundation for those studying and enacting the curriculum.
Wesley Null’s book presents various perspectives on curriculum, capturing the landscape of this newer field of education scholarship. For each perspective, Null offers profiles of key figures that have defined each perspective along with relevant philosophical roots. The central concepts are visible and help students contextualize each of the various perspectives. The description of the Deliberative Perspective is the one that I am most eager to share; that section promises to spark essential conversations about how curricular thinking might evolve in the future.
Curriculum: From Theory to Practice gives its readers a powerful framework that embraces both classical and contemporary theorists for the mapping of traditions in education, curricula, and curriculum-making. At the same time, it makes a case for the importance of a deliberative tradition of educational thought that can embrace the theory and the practice of the book's title as well as the moral and the practical. I look forward to introducing students to the curriculum field by way of this book.
Wesley Null combines in this work the deft hand of an educational historian with the knowledge and skill of a curriculum scholar. His analysis of the deliberative curriculum—and its attendant synthesis through the work of past and present curriculum thinkers—is both original and imaginative. Not only is the theory of curriculum examined, but the foundation is provided for students and practitioners to make meaning of the field in all its processes and outcomes. Null's commitment to balance in curricular theory and practice is exemplary. This well-crafted and thoughtful book is a noteworthy contribution to the arena of curriculum studies.
Wesley Null provides a synoptic curriculum text with historical perspective, theoretical depth, and contextual breadth, while sustaining practical purport—an unusual accomplishment, indeed. This book reveals a faith in educators to move beyond oppressive curriculum mandates of political pundits to recognize the capacity of teachers, educational leaders, and policy makers. It is a call to deliberate carefully on diverse curriculum traditions and to imagine liberating possibilities in the face of dilemmas faced in schools today.
I received the text Curriculum: From Theory to Practice, and I have not been able to put it down. Wesley Null truly offer a balanced and refreshing view of curricular history and theory, while also presenting a very practical approach for in-service educators. I plan on adopting it for my curriculum courses in the fall.
Excellent text for a curriculum issues course. It can be a stand-alone text or supplemental.