As pointed earlier, understanding the process of curriculum change towards sustainability implies also understanding of the nature of curriculum. It is often said that education plays a dual role. On the one hand, it reproduces certain aspects of current society and, on the other hand, it prepares students to transform oneself and society. Although these roles are not necessarily mutually exclusive, curricula in the past tended to reproduce an unsustainable culture rather than empower citizens to think critically and learn to transform oneself and society. This is largely due to the fact that many still equate a curriculum with a body of knowledge-content to be transmitted to students by applying the most effective teaching methods (curriculum as product). In this case, the focus is on what the learners will be able to do (and the knowledge and skills they require) after the course has finished. In a product curriculum perspective, behavioural objectives are pre-specified in a way that can be objectively measured. The intended outcome of a learning experience is thus prescribed or pre-specified in advance. The idea of curriculum as a product has been contrasted to two other types: curriculum as process, curriculum as context and curriculum as praxis (cf. Grundy, 1987; Smith, 2000).
The curriculum as process adopts a less structured procedure that is being considered more open-ended than the curriculum as product. In a process model, instead of prescribed and measurable learning objectives, intentions or more flexibly formulated objectives mostly negotiated with learners are set. The ‘process’ approach is characterized by the recognition of individual perception and behaviour, and the variations in the social contexts of different groups of learners. Specific objectives are often not used, although there may be an attempt to identify overall ‘learning outcomes’. Curriculum as context is directly related to the assumption discussed earlier concerning the contextuality of the sustainable development definitions as well as the social context in which it is created.
Curriculum as praxis is, in many respects, a development of the process model. However, while the process model is driven by general constructivist principles and places an emphasis on interpretation, judgment and meaning making, curriculum as praxis does make explicit statements about the interests it serves and places strong emphasis on learning to transform oneself and society. To see the curriculum in this way is to recognise that curriculum change is a process which links to broader social contexts, and which calls up deep-rooted questions about the role and function of education. Go to the resources and read Kostoulas-Makrakis (2013) article and then discuss and reflect on the following table included in that paper.
Table 1. Habermas’ three knoledge interests and their effects
|Type of Knowledge/Human Interest||Perceived Role of Education||Virtual Teaching & Learning||Curriculum Perspectives||Pedagogy|
|Technical (prediction; causality; instrumentality)||Reproduction / Socialization / Vocationalization roles||Transmissive Lecturing||Product oriented||Behavioral / Cognitive Linear|
|Practical (Understanding; intersubjective)||Liberal role||Transactive||Process oriented||Constructivism|
|Emancipatory (critical reflection)||Transformative role||Transformative||Praxis oriented||Critical pedagogy|