Paradigms – An Example

LOGO FINALQuality IS…a shared set of assumptions with a purpose.

Why aggregate concepts and principles by providing rules for their application?

If the meaning of paradigms is understood, the meaning of quality will follow.

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We are constantly being influenced by paradigms. Our employers, our place of worship, our county supervisors are all guided by prevailing paradigms.  Our universities provide us with a number of excellent examples. I will use an example that is based on the concept of CURRICULUM. There will be an entire chapter dedicated to the concept/domain but using this example will help make the rather significant and rather vague amount of knowledge that’s available on the concept of a paradigm more palatable. Yes, a concept can also be a knowledge domain. Many universities offer PhD programs in curriculum development and instruction.

Curriculum is a very important concept in our universities. Just as there have been entire books written on concepts and paradigms, there are numerous volumes on the subject of the curriculum.  One book particularly noteworthy is Curriculum Theory, Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns (2008) by Michael Schiro. Schiro taught mathematics education and curriculum theory at Boston College for the last 30 plus years. He received his masters and PhD from Harvard University in curriculum instruction. Dr. Schiro does an excellent job of presenting curriculum theory utilizing concepts, principles and paradigms, although he is careful in his choice of words. On page one, paragraph one, he sets the stage.

For almost a hundred years, educators have been at war with each other over what the nature of the American school curriculum should be. Underlying this war are four visions of what the school curriculum should look like. These visions are based on four ideologies, or curriculum philosophies, that advocate very different methods of achieving those respective purposes. The four visions of schooling have both stimulated improvement in American schools and caused conflicts that have inhibited progress in the development of school curriculum.

The overarching domain is obviously tertiary education however, for this example we have identified the domain as Curriculum Theory. When Dr Schiro uses the concepts of vision, ideology, and philosophy he is, in reality, identifying paradigms within the educational system. We will identify one of the four for our example: The Scholar Academic Ideology, probably the most common in use today.  In the appendix of his book, Dr Schiro provides a Curriculum Ideologies Inventory in which he identifies the purpose for each ideology. The inventory also addresses the following concepts with associated precursory principles: Teaching, Learning, Knowledge, Childhood and Evaluation. He doesn’t identify them as principles; they are just a vehicle to complete the inventory, but they are precursory in nature.

Scholar Academic Ideology

Purpose ( First Principle): To provide a community where the accumulated knowledge of the culture is transmitted to the youth.

Concepts and Principles

TEACHING: Teachers should be knowledgeable people, transmitting that which is known to those who do not know it.

LEARNING: Learning best proceeds when the teacher clearly and accurately presents to the student that knowledge which the student is to acquire.

KNOWLEDGE: The knowledge of most worth is the structural knowledge and ways of thinking that have come to be valued by culture over time.

CHILDHOOD: Childhood is essentially a period of intellectual development highlighted by growing reasoning ability and capacity for memory that results in ever greater absorption of cultural knowledge.

EVALUATION: Evaluation should objectively determine the amount of knowledge students have acquired. It allows students to be ranked from those with the greatest intellectual gain to those with the least.

We have now clearly identified the Scholar Academic Ideology as a precursory paradigm. We have concepts, purpose and rules in the form of precursory principles.

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PARADIGMS