Walter C. Parker
CURRICULUM WORK IS a unique social practice. It is thoroughly embedded in the world, and it is highly practical work. Its primary activity is decision making, and these decisions are needed in relation to actual problems involving teaching and learning. Neither the problems nor the decisions are known well in advance; they emerge in the activity of trying to understand and improve practice. And, curriculum work has regular characteristics: students, teachers, and subjects all interacting in local, onthe -ground situations. As the curriculum scholar Schwab (1973) proposed, these four characteristics, interacting, are the descriptive “commonplaces” of curriculum work.
What can a curriculum do? Probably no one reading this book believes today that the school curriculum routinely lifts children out of the world, liberating them from it. Rather, it fixes them in it and its relations of power, production, culture, and regard. It places a few students in express elevators that take them to the upper rungs of occupational hierarchies and sends others to the shop floor. Some are groomed for the legislature, others for the voting booth, others for neither. The curriculum introduces students to one world or another, helping to reproduce many aspects of