Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Curriculum as "Exercise Field" for Human Development

Excerpt from “Turning Water Into Wine: Giving Remote Texts Full Flavor for the Audience of FriendsJournal of College Teaching (forthcoming Spring 2005), by Marshall Gregory, Butler University as of June 27, 2007

"My point is that teachers who love specific kinds of content often misrepresent the kind of usefulness that content will have for most of their students. Mostly, students do not get educated because they study our beloved content. They get educated because they learn how to study our beloved content, and they carry the how of that learning with them in the world as cognitive and intellectual skills that “stick” long after the content is forgotten. In short, the curriculum is not an end in itself. Curricular content is a means to human development. The curriculum is the playing ground, the exercise field, for the development of those human capacities that tend to distinguish human beings as such, and the fullest possible development of which defines the true ends of a liberal education. . . .

"If these are the capacities that mark human beings as such, then these are the capacities that students bring to the table of education, and they are also the capacities the expansion, empowerment, and completion of which constitute the educational end that teachers work toward, or should work toward. Since the failure to develop these capacities constitutes a kind of existential deprivation, the same way that blindness or the loss of a limb, for example, constitutes a physical deprivation, it is appropriate for teachers and students alike to view the kind of education which focuses primarily on the development of basic human capacities as an existential need, and to view curriculum and pedagogy as the primary means of fulfilling that end, or need."

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