Greene notes that the curriculum that we serve up to our students is not necessarily palatable.
“Curriculum, from the learner’s standpoint, ordinarily represents little more than an arrangement of subjects, a structure of socially prescribed knowledge, or a complex system of meanings which may or may not fall within his grasp” (p. 127).
Our assignment also refers to what Greene calls the learners “lifeworlds.” Their life experience. She refers to Dewey and suggests that we come closer to the content that the students would prefer to digest. “…a fresh light.”
In our district, we refer to this as an authentic task, for both the unit and assessment.
Most of my students are impoverished. Most lack furniture, food, clothing, and shelter security. Few have books at home. But TV is real. Cell phones are real. For most, there’s an occasional escape to a movie for a birthday. So when we design curriculum, with our students in mind, that content wouldn’t orbit in Greene’s world of intellectuals.
Discussing Shakespeare is problematic, but we can predict what will happen next on Empire.
I’ve constructed an 8 – 13 week unit on cell phones that tricks my struggling readers into researching on-line, mapping, graphing, re-teaching their parents and peers, and usually ends with a single grade level increase in their reading, sequencing, and comprehension skills. If it’s real and important to them, then they will dive in and lap it all up.
In the Inside the Academy sequence that we watched, Green admitted that she doesn’t watch much TV and she regrets never having worked with the poor. The first, in her mention of TV, her tone was dismissive. The second, she did sound sincere in her regret of not working with the poor. I have to wonder how she would have been able to interact with my students. Without conscious awareness, she stated that she has a huge disconnect from the poor in not acknowledging their primary form of escape= TV. Her world and their world are so far apart in their realities. Her vocabulary alone would be off-putting to them.
We are one of the top urban districts in the state. Do we teach state standards? Absolutely. But we find ways to connect the content to their lives in meaningful ways. It’s our job as educators to help them make those connections.
Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2010, November 11). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Maxine Greene [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/maxine-greene
Greene, M. (2013). Curriculum and Consciousness. In D. J. Flinders & S. J. Thornton (Eds.), The Curriculum Studies Reader (p. 127) New York, NY: Routledege.