There are two underlying messages in the 3rd edition of Transformative Curriculum Leadership. We are not offering just curriculum problem-solving advice; we are also inviting you to undertake your own personal, public quest. We are encouraging you to engage in your own emancipation. To embrace a love of curriculum wisdom is to embark on a journey of discovery.
Teaching for 3S understanding requires a balanced subject, self, and social inquiry. This requires an autobiographical examination that is embedded in academic and historical knowing. Pinar (2004) calls this type of disciplined professional study currere, which is the infinitive form of the Latin noun curriculum. He explains: To support the systematic study of self-reflexivity within the processes of education, I devised the method of currere. The method of currere—the Latin infinitive form of curriculum means to run the course, or, in the gerund form, the running of the course— provides a strategy for students of curriculum to study the relations between academic knowledge and life history in the interest of self-understanding and social reconstruction. The method of currere reconceptualized curriculum from course objectives to complicated conversation with oneself (as a “private” intellectual), an ongoing project of self-understanding in which one becomes mobilized for engaged pedagogical action—as a private-and-public intellectual—with others in the social reconstruction of the public sphere. (pp. 35, 37)
Transformative Curriculum Leadership is a method book in two senses of the term. We are providing guidance on a complex method of curriculum problem solving. That is, we are presenting advice on four decision-making processes informed by two fundamental challenges. We are also illustrating the method of currere. Each chapter includes a relevant component of the currere narrative composed by Rosemary Gornik, the coauthor of this book. Rosie is the assistant superintendent of a public school district in northeast Ohio.
We present Rosie’s currere narrative, rather than a teacher’s, for three reasons. Rosie is teacher centered in her leadership approach, and we want the teacher readers of this book to feel that central administrative support for their professional development efforts is possible. She also exemplifies the collaborative nature of transformative curriculum leadership. She does not overly identify with her administrative role; she is, first and foremost, an educator who possesses a love of democratic wisdom and who reaches out to other educators in this spirit. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, she is deeply committed to enacting the curriculum wisdom paradigm. She is realistic about its challenges and excited about its possibilities. You will shortly meet Rosie Gornik, and you will come to know her well as you read this book.
We incorporate the currere method into this book because we acknowledge that educators who choose to facilitate their students’ personalized journeys of understanding cannot do so without undertaking a similar journey of understanding. Simply stated, teaching for holistic understanding requires a journey of self-understanding as a democratic historical agent.
The curriculum wisdom paradigm is a personally demanding frame of reference. It advances a multifaceted problematic that requires multiple modes of address (Ellsworth, 1997), and it advances a democratic way of being an educator. This should not be surprising, given that democracy is a moral way of living.
Given this text’s dual advice/narrative design, there are at least three ways it can be approached. Read the book from start to finish, study the advice sections first and then go back and read the narrative sections, or read the narratives first and then go back and study the advice. Whatever your study approach, you will notice that we attempt to keep our problem-solving advice as straightforward as possible but then allow for the subtleties and ambiguities of the curriculum wisdom paradigm to emerge in the currere narratives. A purpose of this book is to encourage you to become a “connoisseur” of democratic education—a professional who understands the nuances of educational growth in societies with democratic values (Eisner, 1994; Henderson, 2005). Rosie Gornik is cultivating her connoisseurship voice, and we want you to do the same. There is a reason why John Dewey calls education “the supreme art” (Dewey 1897/1997, p. 23).
How does a society become a “deep democracy” (Green, 1999) without the daily efforts of dedicated educators? Welcome to this book’s curriculum frame of reference. Welcome to the journey of understanding that accompanies a love of curriculum wisdom. Welcome to the visionary work of transformative curriculum leadership! At an earlier point in this chapter, we introduced the star image, Figure 1.1, which provides a schematic overview of the problem-solving cycle that is the organizing referent for the curriculum wisdom paradigm. We told you that this image will appear at the beginning of each chapter and that the topic under discussion will be highlighted. Due to the centrality of currere narratives in curriculum wisdom work, the star image in Figure 1.2 incorporates this term four times. We want you to appreciate the importance of narrative expressions of self-understanding in the problem-solving process advanced by this book. Although the currere narrative term will not appear in the book’s repeating star image, keep in mind that a journey of understanding, which is clarified and expressed though currere narratives, is integral to curriculum problem solving.