[AAACE-NLA] Teachable Moments, National Curriculum, Learning

Catherine B. King cb.king at verizon.net
Fri Apr 14 13:15:04 EDT 2006


Hello Everyone:

Lots going on here; but a few comments about teachable moments and
the insights that occur as a result of them.

First, teachable moments are what all good teachers recognize and capitalize
on, if they can.  These moments are NOT "curriculum" in the sense that we
can write them into a book or in the sense that, if we know the theory,
then we can automatically apply the theory and get predictable results, in
the same way we do medicine or mechanics. These moments are rather tied
to concrete and emergent events in or outside of a "live" classroom and
emerge or fail to emerge "in the moment."

But the teacher as a trained (and educated) curriculum operative can set up
conditions for them to occur and capitalize on them. On the other hand, we
cannot guarantee that they will occur.  It's not something we do "to" 
students,
but more something that we do "with" them.  If students are not prepared,
and if they have no questions about what is going forward, then no teaching
moments, and little or no education, will actually occur.  On the side of 
the
student, the teaching moment occurs when a "live" question emerges from
the coming together of many curriculum factors.  On the side of the teacher,
we exploit the moment by a recognition of that "live" question and a
sensitive direction of the student towards the occurrence of their own
"I got it!" insights.  (Not only to "provide answers.")

Second, teaching moments ARE curriculum in the sense that all curriculum
succeeds or fails in terms of their occurrence, their exploitation (or not) 
by
the teacher, and the insights that result (or not) in the student.

In this way, no matter what kind of physical plant, content, methods, 
planning,
teacher training, etc., (as aspects of curriculum) that we develop before 
the
student enters the classroom, it's this particular teacher who has to keep 
their
finger on the pulse of this particular day and these particular students in 
order
for such moments to occur, and to occur regularly.

Anyone here who teaches will recognize the above from their own experience
of it.  In my own purview of k-12 education, this moment is one of the most
neglected issues in education today, where I have even heard the notion
of "teacher-proofing the curriculum," and where we give lip service to small
classrooms, and then put 40-to-a-class in some schools--and along with it 
the
neglect of the essential presence of a good teacher in a classroom where 
real,
regular, and do-able communication can occur.

BTW, there have been three more editions since the 1988 Ornstein and Hunkins
work on curriculum (1993, 1998, and 2004) that Tom mentions in his 
interesting
collection of quotes.  I have read and teach from the last two.  Of note,
however, is the set of edifying changes that were made between the texts by 
this
committed group of educational theorists.  These texts also chart for us the 
long
journey we have made in the 20th+ century OUT of the damages done to
education by scientific positivism.

These new additions also testify to the development of a rich and diverse
profession (education as a general field, K-12, colleges/universities, AE) 
that
is self-reflective, collaborative, and dynamic in terms of both.  It also 
implies
that these same insights that occur in our "teaching moments" are still 
going
forward in our theorists and in the dynamic data that is our students (writ-
small), education, and our cultures (writ-large).

But as far as a national curriculum is concerned, there is plenty of good 
theory
out there to draw from; and we won't go very far in a systematic way from
only dialoguing on this forum.  However, I think that (as George says) much
has already been accomplished in our field and there is plenty of talent to 
draw
from should some systematic format be on the horizon. If curriculum
development, design, implementation is to work well, however, dynamism
will be built-in; regardless of content; conversation, teaching moments, and 
the
occurrence of insights in the student will be the working centerpieces of
educational theory; and, on-the-ground, things will be open and "messy" at
times.  Need I say that neither theoretical developments nor their 
activation in
the classroom will look like positive science.

Regards,

Catherine King





----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Rosen" <DJRosen at theworld.com>
To: "National Literacy Advocacy List sponsored by AAACE" 
<aaace-nla at lists.literacytent.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2006 4:55 PM
Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] Teachable Moments, National Curriculum, Learning


> Tom,
>
> These are good questions.
>
> My understanding of "curriculum, " (I believe the origin of
> "curriculum" is the Latin word which means "race course") is the John
> Goodlad notion of  "a set of intended learnings".  That is, someone
> or a group of some kind decides what the learners should know and/or
> be able to do.
>
> It makes a big difference who decides, whether it is a school
> committee or state board of education, a group of teachers, a
> classroom teacher, a group of students or an individual student.
>
> It makes a big difference what the decision-makers think the students
> should know and/or be able to do.  Is this a curriculum for repairing
> an automobile or for teaching people how to be responsible and
> effective citizens in a democracy?  Is it to bring about more
> knowledge and/or skills for vocational purposes, spiritual purposes,
> to inculcate cultural or national values?
>
> And it makes a difference whether it is just skills or knowledge or
> both, or --again John Goodlad -- skills, knowledge and attitudes.
>
> To answer your questions:
>
> Both skills and knowledge are necessary, even for a short curriculum,
> but the mix may depend on the purpose(s) of the curriculum. And
> depending on the purpose(s) the meaning of "skills" may be different.
> An auto mechanic and a doctor need skills and knowledge. So do a
> philosopher and a religious leader.  But these are very different
> kinds of skills.
>
> It is useful for teachers to have a good curriculum (a "well
> structured series of lessons" is part of this, but there is much
> more) to start with, but they also need to know when to follow the
> course and when to take advantage of a learning opportunity, even if
> they stray from the course, that is, how to both use the curriculum
> _and_ use "teachable moments."
>
> And it is important that there be a congruence between what the
> (adult) learners want to know and do and what the curriculum and
> teacher are providing.
>
> I would also like to acknowledge that there is a very different
> approach to curriculum, usually called participatory curriculum
> development, which starts with a particular group of students, their
> particular circumstances and what they want to know or be able to
> do.  Some would argue that this is the only way to go.
>
> David J. Rosen
> DJRosen at theworld.com
>
> On Apr 13, 2006, at 12:09 PM, tsticht at znet.com wrote:
>
>> Heidi Spruck Wrigley and Andrea Wilder have both referred to the
>> "teachble
>> moment" for adult ESL/ABE/ASE education; David Rosen has called for a
>> national curriculum for adult ESL/ABE/ASE education; and the recent
>> "skills" versus "knowledge" debate focuses on what is the best way to
>> develop student's ability to learn from listening and reading.
>> Should the
>> focus be on "skills" with a variety of contents as the vehicle for
>> learning
>> the skills, or should the focus be on building the vocabulary and
>> conceptual
>> knowledge that is needed to comprehend language-based materials
>> (newpapers,
>> magazines, books, TV newscasts, radio broadcasts, etc.). Given that
>> adult
>> students do not usually stay in programs for very long, 50 to 100
>> hours for
>> the most part, some longer, what approach seems best to provide the
>> greatest
>> gains in learning. A well structured series of lessons that form a
>> curriculum that systematically builds new knowledge on the basis of
>> old
>> knowledge; opportunistic attention to "teachable moments" or what?
>> Following are a bunch of definitions of "curriculum" I found on the
>> web to
>> stimulate thoughts about all this.
>> Tom Sticht
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Curriculum Approaches and Definitions
>>
>> "How we conceive of curriculum and curriculum making is important
>> because
>> our conceptions and ways of reasoning about curriculum reflect and
>> shape
>> how we see, think and talk about, study and act on the education made
>> available to students. Our curriculum conceptions, ways of
>> reasoning and
>> practice cannot be value free or neutral. They necessarily reflect our
>> assumptions about the world, even if those assumptions remain
>> implicit and
>> unexamined. Further, concern with conceptions is not "merely
>> theoretical".
>> Conceptions emerge from and enter into practice." Cornbleth (1990).
>>
>>
>>
>> A Curriculum Definition & Approach
>>
>> "A curriculum can be defined as the planned educational experiences
>> offered
>> by a school which can take place anywhere at any time* in the multiple
>> context of the school, e.g. public schools as caring communities.**"
>>
>> *This curriculum definition was stated by Todd in 1965 (Todd, E. A.
>> Curriculum Development and Instructional Planning. Nederland, TX.:
>> Nederland Ind. School District, pg. 2.)
>>
>> **This curriculum approach of schools as multiple communities was
>> presented
>> as a comceptual framework in course syllabi beginning with the Fall
>> 1992
>> semester. Prior to the 1992 fall semester schools were
>> conceptualized as
>> multiple institutional faces.
>>
>>
>>
>> Other Approaches
>>
>> 1. Tyler (1949). In 1949 Tyler identified four questions as the
>> parameters
>> for curriculum study: What educational purposes should the school
>> seek to
>> accomplish? How can learning attaining these objectives? How can
>> earning
>> experiences be organized for effective instruction? How can the
>> effectiveness of learning experiences be evaluated?
>>
>> 2. Schubert (1986). "A quick survey of a dozen curriculum books
>> would be
>> likely to reveal a dozen different images or characterizations of
>> curriculum. . . To analyze and discuss all of the images that have
>> been
>> advanced would be a massive undertaking, since more than eleven
>> hundred
>> curriculum books have been written in the present century. . . What
>> can be
>> done more economically is to categorize major conceptions of
>> curriculum:"
>> (a) curriculum as content or subject matter, (b) curriculum as a
>> program of
>> planned activities, (c) curriculum as intended learning outcomes, (d)
>> curriculum as cultural reproduction, (e) curriculum as discrete
>> tasks and
>> concepts, (f) curriculum as an agenda for social reconstruction,
>> and (g)
>> curriculum as "currere" (interpretation of lived experience)."
>>
>> 3. Ornstein and Hunkins (1988). "A curriculum approach reflects a
>> holistic
>> position, encompassing the foundations of curriculum, domains of
>> curriculum, and the theoretical and practical principles of
>> curriculum.
>> Five curriculum approaches are (a) behavioral-rational approach, (b)
>> systems-managerial approach, (c) intellectual-academic approach, (d)
>> humanistic-aesthetic approach, and (e) reconceptual approach."
>>
>> 4. Cornbleth (1990) "Curriculum construction is an ongoing social
>> activity
>> that is shaped by various contextual influences within and beyond the
>> classroom and accomplished interactively, primarily be teachers and
>> students. The curriculum is not a tangible product but the actual,
>> day-to-day interactions of students, teachers, knowledge and
>> milieu. The
>> curriculum encompasses what others have called curriculum practice
>> or the
>> curriculum -in-use. Curriculum as product or object, the
>> conventional view,
>> is seen as one aspect of the context that shapes curriculum
>> practice. . . .
>>
>> . . . Curriculum as contexualized social process encompasses both
>> subject
>> matter and social organization and their interrelations. Social
>> organization, including teacher and student roles (and their attendant
>> rights and obligations) and patterns of interaction, provides a
>> setting for
>> academic activities that can extend or constrain students' learning
>> opportunities. Recitation activities, for example, reflect the
>> super and
>> subordinate roles to teachers and students respectively, and the
>> limited
>> communication patterns found in many classrooms. Learning
>> opportunities are
>> constrained by the recitation organization insofar as students are
>> discouraged from pursuing ideas, raising questions, or offering
>> personal
>> observations. Social organization and academic activities also
>> communicate
>> normative messages including the meaning of knowledge, authority,
>> responsibility, work and success as will be illustrated in subsequent
>> chapters.
>>
>> The curriculum knowledge or subject matter of interest here is
>> primarily but
>> not solely academic (e.g., mathematics, history). It also includes the
>> personal, social, and world knowledge that is communicated or
>> otherwise
>> made available to students and what might be characterized as
>> knowledge
>> about knowledge - Its nature, sources, limits and change. While
>> knowledge
>> typically is treated as an object or commodity to be acquired, that
>> is not
>> the intention here. Curriculum knowledge as the knowledge made
>> available to
>> students refers to opportunities to construct, reconstruct, or
>> critique
>> knowledge. Knowledge selection and organization refer both to the
>> information that is communicated directly and the opportunities
>> that are
>> provided for students to create and critique knowledge. The
>> selection and
>> organization of curriculum knowledge can be purposeful or tacit as
>> seems to
>> be the case when teachers and students follow a textbook. Knowledge
>> treatment refers to what others have distinguished as pedagogy or
>> instruction; it also includes the playing out of assumptions about the
>> nature of knowledge. Knowledge distribution refers to the kinds of
>> knowledge opportunities made available to different groups of
>> students."
>>
>> 5. . . . .
>>
>> .
>>
>> .
>>
>>
>>
>> A Curriculum Definition and Approach
>>
>> "A curriculum can be defined as the planned educational experiences
>> offered
>> by a school which can take place anywhere at any time* in the multiple
>> context of the school, e.g. public schools as caring communities.**"
>>
>> *This curriculum definition was stated by Todd in 1965 (Todd, E.A.
>> Curriculum Development and Instructional Planning. Nederland, TX.:
>> Nederland Ind. School District, pg. 2.)
>>
>> **The curriculum approach of schools as multiple communities was
>> presented
>> as a conceptual framework in course syllabi beginning with the Fall
>> 1992
>> semester. Prior to the 1992 fall semester schools were
>> conceptualized as
>> multiple institutional faces.
>>
>>
>>
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>
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