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A Philosophy of Curriculum

The Cautionary Tale of Simultaneous Languages in a Decentered World

Bryant Griffith

Curriculum has become the new wonder word for our times. Even more, curriculum has become a concept, and an idea. This book provides a speculum mentis, a map of the mind, of modern curriculum theory to help trace the interactions between various forms of thought as they play out in contemporary schooling. This book is also about how the weaving of various forms of thought provides an umbrella of understanding about the nature of curriculum and perhaps a glimpse of human understanding.
One of the presuppositions of this book is that there are often, and perhaps almost always, multiple strands of ideas at work simultaneously. In the modern world when they come together they form a coherent set of theories which can be called a paradigm. In the de-centered world that this book suggests the history of ideas then might be best described as being a bit like our own mind. We often have divergent opinions about who we are, what we want to do and so on. One of the central concepts in contemporary education, reflection, is an attempt to help us override that tendency, to become more pragmatic by focusing and getting on with the job. This might work in the world of formal education where one can coerce students to be more goal oriented for short periods of time by testing them, but in reality that doesn’t happen to most of us a lot of the time.
To illustrate this point strands such as the development of theoretical physics in the early part of the twentieth century, a discussion of the part which philosophical thinking plays in the development of curriculum, particularly in a post modern sense, a recasting of narrative knowledge and a focus on mavericks learners, are discussed.
To live in this modern- post modern world requires reflective thought about the question of what form connectedness will take. In this case the small narratives of the thinkers who have experienced the tension between the modern and post modern world as they variously grappled with their inabilities to construct a unified theory are examined. It is suggested that this failure is a primary illustration of the grand narratives initial collapse. Further, it is suggested that the smaller stories of men and women working to paper over the cracks in the proceeding decades represent the foundations of a metaphor for the human condition as it in fact is not as it has been constructed.
Bryant Griffith is currently a Professor in the College of Education at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. He has also been on the faculty of the University of Calgary in Canada and has taught in various public school settings. Dr Griffith has published widely in the areas of curriculum theory and the philosophy of education.

Bryant Griffith

Education is a dance of complexity and struggle. Unfortunately, our educational system is tied to the observable and the verifiable, not the randomness of human beings and their diverse forms of expression. The reality of the contemporary classroom is a context of multifaceted diversity, with each classroom reflecting unique combinations of ideology, culture, and language, played out in numerous forms and permutations of multi-textual discourses. The influence of each contextual space is only limited by one’s ability to understand its complexity and to acknowledge it.
Teachers and learners are roommates of sorts, connected by the web of discourse and praxis, woven inside the global community. We live in a world where common understanding is desperately sought, yet one where language is often not tied to common understanding. Exploring the need for shared community within this context, Griffith provides a path in which the diverse ways of knowing can interlace to form pedagogical moments in which teachers and learners can deconstruct and construct alternatives.
Cultural narration is based on a series of social relationships, which can be compared to reading the world as a series of texts. As readers become a part of the reconstruction process, the educational system can be visualized as a series of cautionary tales about possibilities, about ways to live and build community in this modern/postmodern world. The author focuses on the nature of discourse and the importance of engaging in dialogue about what it means to be other-conscious, what it means to address questions about who we are and how we came to be who we are.
This path is continuously “under construction;” it is always in the process of becoming what is appearing on the horizon. As teachers learn to commit themselves to the gaps revealed by the narratives of their students, classrooms become discourse communities and contact zones, co-constructing contextual discourses which acknowledge ritual and gesture manifested in various forms of text.

Bryant Griffith

The craft of teaching and learning is like playing in a symphony orchestra; every instrument has a voice and every voice is integral to the whole. The arts, history, anthropology, and philosophy and their forged discourses offer us a series of cautionary tales about the multiplicity of ways we can see and understand our world, ways we often ignore in the classroom. In the case of epistemology, and pedagogy in particular, we have hinged our understanding on a binary of opposites engaged in a dialectic dance and a type of discourse constructed to describe and explain it. The art and act of teaching in this as-if world necessitates teachers to be public intellectuals; intellectual symbols who represent something more than just subject-knowledge expertise but serve as conduits between the discourses of our world.
Established genres and discourses are exclusionary. The vast migration of people and ideas is producing a new set of presuppositions. The manner in which we decode other discourses and fuse them into meanings, both personal and shared, is the root of both teaching and learning, giving us a window into the way that each form of thought is connected, both historically and experientially. Look around you, your school is becoming the United Nations, but it’s not so united. Don’t aim for truth, aim for understanding. Today’s students construct and deconstruct in a multitude of ways on an as-needed, just-in-time basis. Since ideas of difference are often nudged but unacknowledged, we are in danger of becoming pedagogical dinosaurs, not heeding change until it is too late.
Teaching and learning are construction zones, so get out your hard hat. These constructions are possibilities that need to be discussed and negotiated, allowing us to sidestep the traps of grand narratives and a hierarchy of discplinarity and research methodology. Our possibilities need to be forged on an anvil of diversity. These are the spaces, the interstices, where our voices become innovative and our silence offers a safe harbor. Spaces to listen, collaborate, and craft cautionary tales about our lives and the possibilities for a shared future.

Bryant Griffith

Mapping Our Mind

A Cautionary Tale

Bryant Griffith

A Language of Possibilit

Theory and Praxis

Bryant Griffith

The Languages of Social Reality

A Deconstructed, Decentered World

Bryant Griffith

A Language of Hope and Despair

The Grand Illusion

Bryant Griffith

A Language of Transformation

Towards Understanding

Bryant Griffith

Bryant Griffith