The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us from Democracy

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Two persistent dilemmas haunt school reform: curriculum politics and classroom constancy. Both undermined the 1960s' new social studies, a dynamic reform movement centered on inquiry, issues, and social activism. Dramatic academic freedom controversies ended reform and led to a conservative restoration. On one side were teachers and curriculum developers; on the other, conservative activists determined to undo the revolutions of the 1960s. The episode brought a return to traditional history, a turn away from questioning, and the re-imposition of authority. Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, The Tragedy of American School Reform offers a provocative perspective on current trends.
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About the author

Ronald W. Evans is Professor of Education at San Diego State University, USA.
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Published on
May 9, 2011
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Education / Curricula
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / General
Education / Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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What is understanding and how does it differ from knowledge? How can we determine the big ideas worth understanding? Why is understanding an important teaching goal, and how do we know when students have attained it? How can we create a rigorous and engaging curriculum that focuses on understanding and leads to improved student performance in today's high-stakes, standards-based environment?

Authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe answer these and many other questions in this second edition of "Understanding by Design." Drawing on feedback from thousands of educators around the world who have used the UbD framework since its introduction in 1998, the authors have greatly revised and expanded their original work to guide educators across the K-16 spectrum in the design of curriculum, assessment, and instruction. With an improved UbD Template at its core, the book explains the rationale of "backward design" and explores in greater depth the meaning of such key ideas as "essential questions" and "transfer tasks." Readers will learn why the familiar coverage- and activity-based approaches to curriculum design fall short, and how a focus on the "six facets of understanding" can enrich student learning. With an expanded array of practical strategies, tools, and examples from all subject areas, the book demonstrates how the research-based principles of Understanding by Design apply to district frameworks as well as to individual units of curriculum.

Combining provocative ideas, thoughtful analysis, and tested approaches, this new edition of "Understanding by Design" offers teacher-designers a clear path to the creation of curriculum that ensures better learning and a more stimulating experience for students and teachers alike.

This handbook explores the issues-centered curriculum for social studies teaching and how student performance reflects an intellectual capacity to address public issues. The book is divided into 11 parts with essays to address specific aspects of the approach. The foreword, written by Shirley Engle, establishes a context for issues-based curriculum. Essays include: "Defining Issues-Centered Education" (Ronald W. Evans; Fred M. Newmann; David Warren Saxe); "Building a Rationale for Issues-Centered Education" (Anna S. Ochoa-Becker); "The Engle-Ochoa Decision Making Model for Citizenship Education" (Rodney F. Allen); "Using Issues in the Teaching of American History" (David Warren Saxe); "World History and Issues-Centered Instruction" (Richard E. Gross); "Issues-Centered Approaches to Teaching Geography Courses" (A. David Hill; Salvatore J. Natoli); "Issues-Centered Global Education" (Merry M. Merryfield; Connie S. White); "An Approach to Issues-Oriented Economic Education" (Beverly J. Armento; Francis W. Rushing; Wayne A. Cook); "Teaching Issues-Centered Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology" (Jerry A. Ligon; George W. Chilcoat); "Issue-Centered Curricula and Instruction at the Middle Level" (Samuel Totten; Jon Pedersen); "An Issues-Centered Curriculum for High School Social Studies" (Ronald W. Evans; Jerry Brodkey); "Assessing Student Learning of an Issue-Oriented Curriculum" (Walter C. Parker); "International Social Studies: Alternative Futures" (James L. Barth); "International Relations/Foreign Policy Teaching Resources" (Mary E. Soley); "Domestic Economic Policy" (Ronald A. Banaszak); "Teaching about International Human Rights" (Nancy Flowers); and "Children's Rights" (Beverly C.Edmonds). An afterword is provided by James Shaver. (EH)
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