Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition

Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition

Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition

Curriculum in the Postmodern Condition

Synopsis

Alicia De Alba is National Researcher in Education at the Center for Studies of the University (Centro de Estudios sobre la Universidad) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Excerpt

To talk of the curriculum in the postmodern condition is to locate it within its appropriate contemporary historical and philosophical contexts. Attempts to characterize these contexts have, however, been fraught with all kinds of difficulty. Any such attempts to provide narratives of world history, or non-ideological descriptions of the emergence of a distinct philosophical ethos are contestable and open to interpretation. Nonetheless, it is important that conceptions of the curriculum be related to their historical and philosophical contexts. Indeed, such “reflexive contextualization” is especially important in an age of rapid and ongoing space-time compressions (see Harvey 1989), in which space annihilates time. It is crucial that the curriculum both reflect its cultural age—its socio-historical context— and at the same time provide some critical purchase on these developments. These statements sound like the formulation of the truism: when it comes to curriculum philosophy, always historicize!

The problem with historicizing curriculum is that it almost inevitably generates attempts to narrativize world history, to tell stories about “progress, ” “development, ” and “change.” Typically, these stories have their own built-in ends or teleologies, which change according to who is telling the story, to whom, and for what political purpose. Even so, philosophers, sociologists, and historians widely agree that highly significant social, technological, economic and political change has occurred since the end of World War II. Moreover, they agree that this change in some way or other bespeaks a new sensibility and worldview: that these technological and socio-political transformations amount to a sea change. The terms “postmodernism” and “the postmodern” have, albeit grudgingly . . .

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