Grundy, S. (1987). Curriculum: Product or praxis. New York: The Falmer Press. $32.95, 209 pp. (ISBN 1-85000-205-3)
Phillip L. Cardon
Eastern Michigan University
The 1987 work, Curriculum: Product or Praxis, by S. Grundy was considered to be a major contribution to the discipline of curriculum. The author discussed issues relating to curriculum theory that were transpiring in the field, but were not being directly addressed by educators in curriculum and other disciplines. The role of critical theory in evaluating contradictions between the structure of the curriculum and the foundations of curriculum theory was a major underlying theme of the book. Today, this text continues to be a valued source for curriculum discussion. With coherent theoretical foundations in Habermas' (1972) Knowledge and Human Interests, Grundy's book is a guide for the future, which assists the teacher educator with issues regarding curriculum theory and the use of curriculum objectives, content, implementation, and evaluation strategies. The goal of the author is to assist teachers in developing knowledge and skills for autonomous curriculum development and supervision, through the understanding that curriculum is not a product, but a praxis.
The text is structured to address three fundamental issues in curriculum theory: technical, practical, and emancipatory interests. Grundy addresses these issues in an introductory chapter and then discusses each interest separately in chapters two, four, and six. The discussion of each interest is separated from the next by an explanation of the practical implications for teachers (chapters three, five, and seven). The final three chapters sum up the issues discussed in the book.
In the second chapter, titled "Curriculum as Product," Grundy discussed how technical interests in curriculum development can form a curriculum product, but that the product may not fit the student. In chapter three, the first practical implications chapter, the author discussed how most curricula focus on the development of goals, the implementation of instruction or control, some form of action, and an outcome or product. The author then discussed how the blind use of this model ignores the classroom culture and human potential.
In the fourth chapter, titled "Curriculum as Practice," the author explained how the effective use of process approaches to curriculum development requires contemplation, assessment, and cognition on the part of the teacher. In Chapter five, Grundy explained examples of successful curricula in order to demonstrate how teachers can develop curricula.
In the sixth chapter, titled "Curriculum as Praxis," Grundy discussed how praxis gives the teacher emancipatory powers over what occurs in the classroom, and referred to Freire's (1972a, 1972b) five principles of praxis. In chapter seven, the author discussed how technical, practice, and praxis issues can be applied to teachers in the classroom. The three summary chapters that follow bring to closure the issues regarding curriculum as praxis, and emphasized the dynamic interaction between curriculum objectives, content, implementation, and evaluation strategies.
When relating the curriculum issues discussed in Grundy's book to technology education curriculum, several points come to mind. First, curriculum is not a product or the end result of a process. It is a praxis-an interaction of elements and people that assists in the process of learning. In this view of curriculum, the teacher acts as an autonomous director of interaction and intelligence to guide student instruction.
Second, curriculum should not be dictated to teachers by external sources (Petrina, 1993). Teachers should be given the autonomy and emancipatory power to control and shape the curriculum to fit students' needs.
Finally, curriculum is not a magic box that, once formed, will suit all students and all situations. This understanding precludes stagnation and educational suicide. Each class and each student is unique, and should be given the respect and attention they deserve. In summary, curriculum leaders, supervisors, and teachers in the technology education field should seriously consider the concepts and issues in this book as they relate to curriculum practice - or "praxis" - in the field.
Cardon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Business and Technology Education at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti.
Freire, P. (1972a). Cultural action for freedom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Harvard Educational Press.
Freire, P. (1972b). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.
Habermas, J. (1972). Knowledge and human interests (2nd Ed.). London: Heinemann.