Using Curriculuar Cultures to Engage Middle School Thinkers
Schnuit, L. (2006, September). Using curricular cultures to engage middle school thinkers. Middle School Journal 38(1). P. 4-12 Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23024468
This article recaps a case study conducted in 2005-6 that had three teachers try an alternative “curriculum culture” in their middle school classrooms. Curriculum culture is defined as the way curriculum is delivered or the expectations, habits and norms that surround the learning. The three cultures were 1) a Culture of Constructivism, in which the focus is on building knowledge through student inquiry; 2) a Culture of Democracy, in which the focus is on preparing students to be capable citizens of a democracy through shared authority and responsibilities with teacher as facilitator; 3) Culture of Self & Spirit, which emphasizes educating the “whole child”, including social-emotional, physical, academic, and creative well-being. All three cases were deemed successful, with teachers reporting that their classrooms and their teaching practices had been revitalized.
Evaluation: As a Middle School Librarian, I can see why this age group, in particular, might benefit from any type of culture other than top-down, directed teaching. This article made me interested in reading more about the Culture of Democracy, because I think this culture would appeal greatly to the kids at my school – more so perhaps than the other two cultures since it’s based on participation and would suit many of their egos. It’s also (perhaps) a more concrete approach than constructivism and holistic teaching. It seems like this age group is still struggling to think in the abstract, so a democratic structure/approach to learning provides the comfort of exploring the abstract in a controlled environment.