Education: Then vs. Now

When I reflect back on the thirteen years of schooling I received before beginning my university experience, then comparing those thirteen years to Ralph Tyler’s rationale (as explored in this article), I see almost an exact similarity. Each of the four questions in Tyler’s rationale can be directly related to the style in which I was taught. For example, the first question in Tyler’s rationale asks, What educational purposes should the school seek to attain? This is the role of curriculum. The schools I attended (like many others) used the objectives outlined by the government of Saskatchewan curriculum as a guideline for education. This curriculum served as a significant resource for my teachers, and a basis from which all other academic experiences of my schooling were based. Tyler’s second question asks, What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes? This question correlates to more specific content within the curriculum, such as outcomes and indicators. The indicators are used as a checklist of sorts to prove that the preset outcomes are being attained. Although I had no knowledge of this when I was in school, I now understand that I was continuously being monitored to ensure I was demonstrating the various indicators in order to achieve the vital outcomes. Tyler’s third question asks, How can these educational experiences be effectively organized? This is where teacher planning comes in. Again, although I did not realize it when I was in school, my teachers carefully planned their notes, lessons, and assignments to fit the curriculum outcomes. Usually, simple concepts were learned first, slowly advancing to harder concepts that reinforced our previous learning throughout the year. Every lesson, activity, and assignment was strategically planned with the goals of the greater curriculum in mind. Tyler’s fourth question asks, How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? Most traditional schools, (including the schools I attended) used assessment and evaluation to determine if the curriculum outcomes were being achieved. Marked assignments, unit tests, and finals were all methods of assessment and evaluation that would determine my academic fate. Upon reflection of Tyler’s rationale, I have come know it has both positive and negative qualities. Positively, it sets straightforward guidelines for teachers so that they may (somewhat) easily plan their lessons and assignments. Additionally, these straightforward guidelines aim to ensure equality regarding the content children’s educations. Negatively, this system tends to address all children’s educational needs the same, as though they are machines built in a factory. The reality is, every child is different, and requires a different approach in order to be successful in his/her educational endeavors. While a particular teaching or testing method may work for one student, it may fail another. Tyler’s rationale has good intentions to ensure that all students succeed in school, but fails to recognize some of the strategies that have become vital to ensuring success in education for children today. Education is always changing, and so must our educational standards. For the benefit of our students and our future, it is time to step away from the traditionalist approach and change the way we approach education.

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2 thoughts on “Education: Then vs. Now

  1. Your post was really well written. It does almost seem like we are machines in a factory sometimes in our schooling system – following strict curriculum guidelines, being assessed through tests, using a “one size fits all” mindset. However, when you brought up how curriculum is used in almost all Saskatchewan schools, it made me think that isn’t it mandatory to follow that? Teachers really have little say about how they run their classroom, organize their lessons, and teach and assess their students. I think that will definitely be a big challenge as a teacher.

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  2. I very much so agree with your comments about how this rationale treats children as if they’re all the same. Different learning styles need to be taken into account when planning assessments and I think that is something that our generation of teachers will put as a priority.

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