Curriculum that Questions the Purpose of Knowledge

Litzinger, Vicki

ET-Standards-based education, CA-Written curriculum, IL-Questions

Heick, Terry. (2014, October 15). Curriculum that questions the purpose of knowledge. Retrieved from

Summary and Evaluation

Heick’s main question is “…what is the purpose of knowledge?” (4) As educators, we tend to get lost creating and revising curriculum to the extent that we forget the purpose of knowledge. We need to remember that curriculum is a tool that tells us “what knowledge, but doesn’t answer why knowledge.” (5)

Overall, the article was not the best and was often confusing. However I chose this article because it is a discussion in which I’ve been trying to engage my middle school students. For them, the purpose of an education (re; knowledge) is to “get a good job.” So, I found this article validating in that I’m not the only person posing this question. And, I think it’s a question that we need to put front and center in our discussions of curriculum planning in our schools and to communicate with all stakeholders. Decades ago, we used to know the purpose of knowledge–to be well-rounded citizens who could think, read, problem-solve, share cultural meaning. In the move to national standards for the purpose of testing, college, and good jobs, we’ve lost sight of the purpose for knowledge. And sadly, we’ve created students who now only value learning for the purpose of getting a good job.

Curriculum That Questions The Purpose of Knowledge

Elizabeth Brown

CA- Written Curriculum
ET- Standards-Based Education

Heick, T. (2014). Curriculum that questions the purpose of knowledge. Retrieved from

This article discusses the status of curriculum in schools examining its role in learning. Heick begins by giving a framework of curriculum, breaking it down to what it has been in the past in comparison to how it is now. He defines curriculum as “that which is to be studied-a set of planned learning experiences to promote mastery of knowledge and skills.” This is is the traditional model, which is directly based on educational guidelines. Heik makes an analogy comparing “academic standards” to the ingredients found in baked goods. By themselves, standards do not sound appealing, however, it it how they are translated or advertised (into assignments) that makes them not only more recognizable, but more palatable. If the purpose of the curriculum is to teach certain skills, than educators need to decide why these lessons worth learning from a student’s perspective. Specifically, the content should be promoted as something relevant, interesting, and applicable to their everyday lives.

I like how Heick is starting an honest conversation about curriculum and its connection to learning and how it effects everyone: teachers, students, and the community. Until educators question why old methods of teaching are not resonating with students, they are not likely to change. It is important for teachers ask themselves, why am I including this in the lesson and what is the intent? Not only are well thought out lesson plans more interesting (for the students), it is more likely that they will learn
something from them.