Abstract Globalization is a term now circulating frequently in both popular media as well as formal academic disciplines. It has many meanings, some of which are contestable, others simply descriptive. This work attempts to explore some implications of globalization for the field of curriculum studies. This paper is an attempt to explore some of the symbols of nationality that are embedded in, or associated with, our curriculum, and to suggest that these may present some problems in terms of values and of equality.
The work will explore the hegemonic relationship exerted by culture through the curriculum, relating this particularly to the ways in which a curriculum might be assessed. The particular curricular examination suggests that African-American life and history are reflected in various conceptions of the curriculum. Therefore the study will also consider how functional approach to teaching social skills to African American students is infused throughout the curriculum. Curriculum Development Introduction
A vague presumption has come to pervade the public’s understanding of education, namely that its content should somehow be apolitical and value-free. If values are not explicitly addressed in the classroom then what is taught are simple “facts” – unadulterated and value-neutral. Values, however, are not a separate category of the mind, but arise, part and parcel, out of our total understanding of reality, our worldview. It is this realization that three of our contributors bring to bear, each in a different way, on the problems of the contemporary curriculum. James B.
Macdonald (1971) asserts: The process of curriculum development … includes selection from the total culture and the creation of a pattern of encounter that will maximize the authenticity of the material and the probability of its being internalized by learners. As a system of ideas and beliefs, it includes aspects of the cognitive world isolated by disciplines and/or subjects in terms of facts, information, generalization, principles, laws, and the like. It also includes awareness of and facility in the use of expressive symbols such as art, music and language.
Further, it includes systems of value orientation for action in the form of such things as modes of inquiry, seeking new knowledge, respecting the integrity and worth of individuals, being concerned for other peoples, using democratic procedures , and so forth (pp. 97-98). Macdonald takes issue with the attempt of all scholars to mimic science as the only reliable path to “truth. ” For him, restructuring the curriculum does not mean trying to integrate the disciplines as they now exist, but rather, seeking an altogether new worldview -what he calls a new “anthropology.
” His point is that we need to consider values, meaning, and purpose in the curriculum in order to create a more adaptive and accurate vision of the world. A balance must be maintained between local culture and global culture. Thanks to that balance, groups win be able to develop or reinforce local cultures, and at the same time will be able to communicate with the main global culture in a mutually reinforcing relationship. We must of course agree as to what language to use to communicate throughout the global network. The problem is not very different from what we do for instance in air traffic control.
At a certain moment we must accept that in order to communicate we must have a common global language. This does not negate local languages and cultures – on the contrary. The fact that one speaks English does not prevent him/her from communicating in his/her native Italian, nor does it reduce his/her pride in Italian culture. By speaking English, he/she is able to communicate that culture to other cultures, and vice versa. The “Global Education” mentioned in the abstract might be understood as the universal education of humankind – a worthy goal. But we first have to ask: what will we teach?
There are too many facts to be taught, yet they are insufficient. We need instead to exercise our intelligence to grasp and teach what is best – namely the promotion of our well-being. The cultural/historical dimension, whereby students are stimulated to broaden their perspective on life, is already being addressed in some programs of curriculum reform. At my home institution, Temple University, for example, a two semester course entitled “The Intellectual Heritage” is required for all undergraduate students. This course introduces seminal texts and ideas from Western, African, and Asian traditional intellectual histories and cultures.
Through classic works such as the Tao Te Ching, the Koran, and the Analects, the heritage of all humankind, students are able to enlarge their intellectual and historical vision, while becoming sensitized to the values of their own, often unexplored, roots. This suggests that curriculum must include voices, visions, and perspectives of people of color and other marginalized groups. Literature Review Henderson noted in her paper that conventional economic theory is based more on the values of economic theorists and their wealthy sponsors than on actual observation of real economies (Davis 1988).
Not only economics, but everything that is taught bears the stamp of someone’s values – whether those of a legislator, a teacher, a textbook writer, or a group of academic theorists. Value-neutrality is one of the most pervasive misconceptions of modern education. The curriculum is not unbiased, and students are not left to form their own opinions. Whatever is taught bears the imprint of the values implicit in society, and if by chance those values are part of the cause of a society’s problems, then it becomes necessary to address them openly and critically in the educational curriculum.
This, of course, is the real meaning of “academic freedom,” something that the American public has yet to accept. The problem of what set of values, what sort of vision of humankind, we could put in place of – or at least use to modify – our present faulty vision is taken up by Charles Weihsun Fu in a brilliant analysis of the distinctions between two of the world’s dominant worldviews: the Eastasian and the modern Western. Fu skillfully juxtaposes the Confucian and Judeo-Christian understandings, pointing out the social and political consequences of each, and especially their inherent weaknesses.
More specifically, he contrasts their respective bases in personal morality and social responsibility on the one hand and in law and contractual relationships on the other. Fu concludes with a proposal for interweaving these two approaches which, if introduced into the Western curriculum, could serve simultaneously to correct our destructive tendencies toward alienation while softening our pretensions of moral superiority. His arguments seem to us to feed well into those of Johan Galtung, who discusses the path to global peace under the next theme.
The process by which change is to be accomplished likewise is addressed by Frances Moore Lappe, as she critiques our political value system. Too often, Lappe argues, the curriculum teaches only superficial explanations for society’s problems, relying upon the unexamined assumptions of single disciplines, which are often graced with the label of common sense. She calls for the introduction of dialogue into the curriculum to force us to delve deeper into the underlying causes of problems, thus revealing their true complexity.
Such dialogue ultimately demands the critical self-evaluation of values and a sense of political engagement that she believes are essential for an active, informed, truly democratic citizenry. If they are to achieve a productive dialogue rather than a polarizing debate, both Western traditionalists and the multiculturalists must face some facts. The growing number of people of color in our society and schools constitutes a demographic imperative educators must hear and respond to.
The 1999 Census indicated that one of every four Americans is a person of color. By the turn of the century, one of every three will be of color. Nearly half of the nation’s students will be of color by 2020 (Council for Exceptional Children 2002). Although the school and university curriculums remain Western-oriented, this growing number of people of color will increasingly demand to share power in curriculum decision making and in shaping a curriculum canon that reflects their experiences, histories, struggles, and victories.
People of color, women, and other marginalized groups are demanding that their voices, visions, and perspectives be included in the curriculum. They ask that the debt Western civilization owes to Africa, Asia, and indigenous America be acknowledged (Grossman 1998). The advocates of the Afro centric curriculum, in sometimes passionate language that reflects a dream long deferred, are merely asking that the cultures of Africa and African-American people be legitimized in the curriculum and that the African contributions to European civilization be acknowledged.
People of color and women are also demanding that the facts about their victimization be told, for truth’s sake, but also because they need to better understand their conditions so that they and others can work to reform society. The significance of culture in curriculum implementation is supported by Michaels’ (1981) study of differences in narrative styles used by African American children and their European-American teacher.
In Michaels’ study, a European-American teacher did not make explicit the literate narrative style employed in school learning and, thus, African-American children did not acquire a prerequisite skill for reading acquisition. Narrative styles are culturally acquired. The narrative style employed in school is based on the European-American culture and does not need to be made explicit to most members of that culture. Schools and the curriculum are often portrayed as culturally neutral and, because the practice of schooling has become traditional, it is difficult to identify the specific aspects of culture that are present.
A more specific example of teachers’ response to students’ cultural or ethnic background is found in a research study reported by Perry Gilmore (1985) in which African-American children’s access to advanced literacy is denied on the basis of their level of acculturation rather than acquisition of prerequisite skills. Creators of the standard curriculum as members, of the society, function in multiple settings (e. g. , systems) and, as a result, are socialized by many agents. Attitudes about what children should be taught and how they should be taught are shaped.
Likewise, attitudes about social issues such as race and ethnicity are also influenced heavily by multiple systems-giving messages, sometimes conflicting messages, about the importance of these factors. Branch (1993) suggested that the ethnicity and race of the teachers/educators and learners figure prominently in the learning equation. He posits that the attribution of characteristics to learners influences how they perform in the classroom, perhaps as much as their abilities.
Frequently, teachers view African-American children’s academic performance as a function of their race and ethnicity and the children themselves may develop limiting self-perceptions as a consequence of their interactions within the ecosystem. For example, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) reported that some African-American high school students perceive academic excellence as an instance of “acting White. ” Background It was not easy, even in the heyday of nineteenth-century nationalism, to define what was meant by national identity.
Nations were often based on some notion of unity, or of consanguinity, or of some shared culture, or appearance, or language. None of these seems to be either a necessary or a sufficient condition, however. The United States manages without consanguinity, for example—though it currently seems to see language as a defining issue, as can be seen in the moral panic about the possibility of non-English speakers forming a majority. The pedagogic will seek to produce structures and curricula that are designed to maintain national identity, particularly at moments when national authority might seem to be in question.
Bernstein (1971) expressed part of this when he wrote that “how a society selects, classifies, distributes, transmits and evaluates the educational knowledge that it considers to be public reflects both the distribution of power and the principles of social control”. If existing power structures and distribution are to be maintained, knowledge, and the particular kinds of knowledge that constitute cultural capital, must be selected and transmitted to particular groups.
Such cultural capital must be identified, protected and valued over other cultural phenomena. Authorities need to assert their identity and control, and, in the context of the arguments presented in this paper, they need national and cultural symbols to do this, and they need control over the way in which they are transmitted. Some of the unhappy facts of our condition are being disseminated through the media, but in spite of this we still suffer from serious misunderstandings about the nature of global problems.
While we have all been told that there are environmental, economic, and political crises – the greenhouse effect, species extinction, the hole in the ozone layer, the Third World debt, the instability of political institutions – and have been informed that there are some causative agents such as carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation, poverty, and a dearth of the appropriate sustainable development, we clearly do not comprehend. We misunderstand precisely because an insistence on the facts alone constitutes that little bit of knowledge that is a dangerous thing.
Western traditionalists and multiculturalists must realize that they are entering into debate from different power positions. Western traditionalists hold the balance of power, financial resources, and the top positions in the mass media, in schools, colleges and universities, government, and in the publishing industry (Duckworth 1996). Genuine discussion between the traditionalists and the multiculturalists can take place only when power is placed on the table, negotiated, and shared.
However, multiculturalists must acknowledge that they do not want to eliminate Aristotle and Shakespeare, or Western civilization, from the school curriculum. To reject the West would be to reject important aspects of their own cultural heritages, experiences, and identities. The most important scholarly and literary works written by African-Americans, such as works by W. E. B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, and Zora Neale Hurston, are expressions of Western cultural experiences. African-American culture resulted from a blending of African cultural characteristics with those of African peoples in the United States (Wald 1996).
Rather than excluding Western civilization from the curriculum, multiculturalists want a more truthful, complex, and diverse version of the West taught in the schools. They want the curriculum to describe the ways in which African, Asian, and indigenous American cultures have influenced and interacted with Western civilization (Combleth 1988). They also want schools to discuss not only the diversity and democratic ideals of Western civilization, but also its failures, tensions, dilemmas, and the struggles by various groups in Western societies to realize their dreams against great odds.
The inclusion of African-American literature (a) clearly reveals the conflicts and contradictions of class, race, and gender bias in a democratic society, (b) puts students in touch with their own bias and that of their peers, and (c) helps students learn to challenge bias in themselves, their peers, and the larger society, and in the literature they read. The teacher’s personal commitment allows to overcome aspects of the school culture and resistance and racial conflict among students to reach a point of shared understanding and experience for students.
The racial conflict clearly raises the issue of personal and group identity, however. Method Curriculum development is designed to reflect the course of study in schools. It is intended to present information to students in an organized manner through various instructional methods and strategies. Teachers must be cognizant of creative and innovative ways to individualize and maximize learning for pupils by providing practical learning activities. Designing curriculum involves two major methodologies (Grossman 1998). The first methodology is experimental instruction.
Experimental instruction is designed to intrinsically motivate student interests inside and outside of the classroom. The second approach, systematic instruction, involves teacher/student interaction. The major purpose of systematic instruction is to develop a skill or concept and design materials and activities that enable students to achieve the selected objectives. Curriculum development in most school districts is concerned with developing academics in order to equip pupils to master the complex tasks presented by our society. This approach is valid for most pupils.
However, due to poor social and interpersonal skills development of many minority and young African-American students, social skill development may be necessary before academic skills can be mastered. It is generally agreed by most professionals in the field of education that schools should be involved in teaching social and interpersonal skills. For example, social skills education and interpersonal skills development are ideal ways to teach responsibility for self and others and for exploring the meaning of human interaction and relationships.
A social skills curriculum can also help students understand: (1) how to develop self-esteem along with their emotions and how their emotions affects others; (2) how to develop positive social relationships; (3) respect for others; (4) respect for rules and regulations; (5) ways to develop moral and character; (6) ways to examine one’s values; (7) ways to make responsible choices; (8) their potential and worth as human beings; (9) How to develop a sense of responsibility toward others and ways of behaving appropriately in public places; (10) the role and duty of responsible citizens; and (11) how to develop effective communication skills.
Curriculum strategies outlined in this text are designed to address the social skills and others as they relate specifically to African American students. Experimental, direct, and systematic curriculum methodologies were employed. The phenomenon of educating African-American students has been studied and investigated extensively, resulting in numerous educators advocating that these “special” students demonstrate inappropriate social skills/ behaviors inside as well as outside the classroom.
Developing the appropriate social skills for successful interaction with peers and significant adults (teachers, parents) can be considered one of the most important accomplishments of childhood and early adolescence should be addressed as soon as possible. This is particularly true in the area of establishing and maintaining relations with peers and authority figures. Not only can social skills deficits have a negative impact on future interpersonal functioning, it may also affect current functioning, reducing the quality and quantity of the learning experiences to which students are exposed in their educational settings.
Social skills have been defined as goal-oriented, rule-governed, situation-specific learned behaviors that vary according to social context. Social skills involving both observable and nonobservable cognitive and affective elements that help elicit positive or neutral responses and avoid negative responses from others. As such, social behavior constitutes an intricate interfactional process. As a result, the behavior of school-age children influences and is influenced by that of their partners (e. g. , teachers, mentors, tutors, and peers) within the interaction.
Society expects that when children reach various developmental stages, they will demonstrate greater foresight and more controlled behaviors. Society also expects that children will be capable, not only of meeting increased demands within learning tasks, but also more complex, subtle social situations. Failure to meet these expectations may increase their sense of social alienation and helplessness. The curriculum presented here is designed to enable African American students to become socially contributing members of society by meeting expected standards.
Strategies have been developed to assist educators in providing these students appropriate social skills training to enable them to operate successfully in the schools and society. Intervention techniques have been selected based upon research techniques to assist young Black students in controlling aggression, assuming responsibility, and becoming productive members of the group. The author highly endorses that proactive approach be employed when teaching social skills to African-American students.
Since proactive instruction provides children with social intervention before negative behaviors occur, this approach is preferable to reactive teaching. Whereas proactive instruction teaches social skills before social rejection is experienced, reactive instruction waits for the individual to fail and then applies intervention strategies. Many African-American students have problems developing appropriate social skills due to the problems outlined throughout the text.
Proactive instruction will prevent many of the negative consequences of inappropriate social skills, as well as improve the self-image of young African-American males. Recommended strategies for proactive instruction may assist the boys in: 1. dealing positively with accusations 2. accepting the feelings of others in a nonthreatening manner 3. respecting the feelings of others 4. avoiding fights and conflicts 5. dealing effectively with teasing 6. giving praise or compliments to others 7. accepting compliments from others 8. apologizing for inappropriate behavior
9. expressing anger in a positive way 10. showing affection and appreciation toward others 11. practicing self-control These instructional activities may be expanded or modified as needed. As indicated, African-American students must be taught appropriate social skills if they are going to be contributing members of society. The social skills outlined here should be infused throughout the curriculum and integrated as needed by the teacher. These strategies are seen as immediate, useful sources for teaching pro-social skills to African-American students.
Additionally, the curriculum is based upon in-depth research and years of teaching and observing the social skills development of African-American students. Results The initial step in developing a social skills curriculum is to identify those general social behaviors that are critical to successful social functioning. These general social behaviors are then rewritten as general objectives, which provide the framework for constructing other components of the curriculum. The second stage is to sequence specific objectives as they relate to the general objectives.
All specific objectives are designed to achieve the general objectives. Specific objectives are stated in behavioral and measurable terms. The third step is to identify activities and resources that can achieve the stated objectives. Activities should be functional and reflect real life experiences that African-American students are exposed to. As much as possible, parents should be involved in reinforcing the social skills taught. Parents may be used as resource individuals and may offer suggestions relative to material and activities.
The fourth step is to include cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity into the curriculum. This approach affords young African-American males the opportunity to appreciate and understand their own self-worth and sense of importance and belonging as well as identify Blacks and other minorities who have made significant contributions in several fields. An additional benefit is that the young Black males can identify and associate with appropriate role models. A curriculum that does not highlight the contributions of Blacks and minorities gives an inaccurate and distorted view of the many significant contributions made by them.
Multicultural activities and strategies enrich the curriculum by showing differences in cultural styles, patterns, and interests of diverse groups. Conclusions and Recommendations A social skills curriculum should be based upon those social skills needed to function successfully in one’s society. Much of the research reviewed indicates that a significant number of y African American students have not mastered the social skills needed to function successfully in our society.
A functional approach involves exposing the learner to real-life situations, concepts, and activities such as self-identity, acquiring self-concept, achieving socially acceptable behavior, bonding, respecting the rights of others, maintaining good interpersonal skills, achieving independence, employing problem-solving skills, taking turns, and communicating appropriately with others. It is language – the exquisite use of symbols – that makes us truly human, and I would like to see a core curriculum in which students study the origins of language – not just parts of speech (Frisby 1993).
I would also like to see students consider how symbol systems vary from one culture to another, how language can be shared, and perhaps all students should become familiar with a language other than their own, so they can step outside their own language skin to understand better the nature of communication. And surely a course of study on the centrality of language would include mathematics, which is a universal symbol system. All human beings respond to the aesthetic. This condition is found in all cultures on the planet, and students, in the new core curriculum, should study the universal language we call art.
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