All posts by EnglishNerd

A born nerd specializing in English, which currently includes gaining a better understanding of how the field of Education intersects with the discipline of English.

Types of curriculum

The first 4 chapters of Contemporary Curriculum ( McNeil, 2015) identify the 4 most common types of curriculum: Humanistic, Social Reconstructionist, Systemic, and Academic. Humanistic Curriculum focuses on the playfulness of learning and puzzling out the problem at hand to develop innovation and flexibility of thought in an uncertain future (pg. 1). Social Reconstructionist Curriculum presents the social conflicts to students as topics, despite disagreement on whether they are fit for a classroom setting (pg. 21). Systemic Curriculum has rigid set of goals and standards and pathways to achieve the goals measured through standardized tests (pg. 41).  Academic Curriculum follows more closely the Liberal Arts College curriculum, where students study a variety of disciplines and learn how they interact and affect each other (pg. 61).

Our class conversation regarding these various curricula was wide ranging and passionate. Some of the class felt that the Systemic Curriculum functions only to damage students’ learning and add power to multinational  corporations. And some felt that the only true and important curriculum is Humanistic, because of the value it places on the whole person. We never resolved the discussion, we merely ended due to time.

Each of these curricula seem to be most effective for specific desired ends. While the class never came to a consensus, I think that each of the curricula works well for different settings and that none are inherently evil. I also think that using a blend of the best elements of each might serve as a way to ensure a quality curriculum for all students. Having some goals in mind for what students learn can help teachers develop lessons. And if 1 of the goals is to see how the interconnectedness of what is learned in the classroom plays out in social situations, this blends together several of the best parts of the Humanistic Curriculum and the the Social Reconstructionist Curriculum.

Deciding what should be taught

This chapter in Contemporary Curriculum  ( McNeil, 2015) focuses on the various elements that go into deciding the content for the curriculum. Touching upon some of the various theories guiding crafting of the content, the chapter focuses predominately on the rationale behind the content choices. “Rather than avoiding responsibility and mandating curriculum purposes without justification, those at all levels of schooling should constantly question the purpose of curriculum” (McNeil, p. 84). The chapter presents some of the history on how the curriculum developed and what information has generally been accepted as important for students to know. That process has been greatly influenced by the economic and other political factors, which then are rarely remembered or presented again.
Continue reading Deciding what should be taught

The Politics of Curriculum Making

This chapter, 10 in the Contemporary Curriculum ( McNeil, 2015) book, brings up the conversation regarding the political nature of developing curriculum. Politics are broadly considered here in terms of the impact of policy on curriculum decisions, while also narrowing the focus to the local level of parents and teachers when discussing the specific information to be included in the correct curriculum.

Continue reading The Politics of Curriculum Making

Curriculum Theory

One of the 3 classes I have this semester is Curriculum Theory. Basically all semester we’ve been ready about the different ideas and philosophies that people have used to create the content that we teach students. We’re focusing on U.S. curriculum theories, so that makes the learning curve different. It also helps explain some of the rationale behind my teachers’ decisions while I was in K-12, which is always fun.

I’m going to be posting a series of journals that connect to the readings we did for class. I’ll be connecting my initial thoughts to events that have happened outside of the classroom, as well as to the discussions we had in class. Yay reading and learning!

My dad


I have never talked about my dad much. I never really wondered why, which is odd. I love my dad, and he’s an amazing man who helped foster my love for fantasy literature, and who helped me realized the importance of staying informed and involved in the political system. But when I share about my family, I tend to talk more about my mom and my sister. I’m not sure why. My family has always been the constant in my life. I’ve added some friends to that consistent level, but through everything, my family has always been there. Yet I’ve tended to consult and share more with my sister and my mom more than my dad, which probably adds to why I tend to not talk about my dad. But I find that now I want to share more about my dad, which will be very hard.

In October 2014, my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. There’s no way to know for sure,  but that diagnosis is what the doctor used to base his decisions on. His personality is also changed a bit as a result of his brain deteriorating, so he became a little less my dad with each passing day.

You might’ve caught the past-tense in this post. That’s because in the year since the diagnosis, we learned my dad had stage-4 esophageal cancer that killed him 5 weeks after it was discovered. And this finality has added another layer of pain and sorrow that I know I will spend the rest of my life learning to live with a bit better every day.

I am in the 3rd year of a 4 year PhD program, and the news added an additional level of stress. My schedule prevented me from being able to help guide my dad through daily decisions and help ease my mom’s stress. And when I think of the future, a sadness creeps in realizing that my dad would most likely not have understood or remembered what all the work the initials I will one day add after my name means. It has also been another season of attending numerous weddings and baby showers, which is yet another constant reminder of the many moments still to come that my dad will not be present for.

As I work on my degree, there is a part of me that carries this weight. But there is another part that realizes this too is part of life. I never expected my dad to live forever; I just didn’t realize I would lose him the way the shore by the ocean disappears – a tiny amount wearing off at a time before it is suddenly and entirely consumed.

Writing my papers this semester has been the hardest because in the quiet spaces I carve out of my schedule to capture what I’ve learned in my classes, these thoughts dominate. And my classes aren’t about grief or loss – they’re about pedagogy and learning and education.  A case can be made that my professors have been more gracious and understanding of my situation than I have been. I am looking forward to being done with the semester. I am not looking forward to not having my dad around for the holidays.

The Spire

Covet for The Spire.
I liked the set-up of the world of a new comic, The Spire.  I am interested to see where this story goes and how the characters develop. I really enjoyed Six-Gun Gorilla by this team of Simon Spurrier & Jeff Stokely, and the story was definitely quite gonzo in its unfolding, so I’m excited to see where the story goes from here. The Spire doesn’t seem like it will be the kind of story that follows a traditional method of story-telling, so who knows what the next issue will hold, or how all of the side-characters will tie in by the end.

If you like random, gonzo-esque stories with political undertones, you should check out this story.  Your local comic shop or a digital storefront probably has it.

Comics as Social Change

Comics as Social ChangeAwhile ago, I posted about an event that was in the works. Well it’s happening!!!


So on April 2, 2015, I will be co-hosting an event where we’re talking about comics as social change.  (see the embedded poster for more details)

What I wasn’t expecting as part of this event was the opportunity to present a 10 minute speech-type thing on how comics can be social change. I’ll post the draft here when it becomes more of a concrete idea. (it’s currently very nebulous and evanescent)

I am working on gathering my ideas and focusing on not freaking out. I’m not sure how successful I will be.

Email subscriptions

So you know how I migrated my site over to a new host? And you know how it took awhile for the old posts to show up? Yeah, I also just realized that my old subscription list didn’t make the migration either. So if you used to get emails that notified you when I published a new post, you’ll probably want to re-subscribe, because I’ll be honest – I have no solid idea how to get that old list and make it active here. And if getting email updates sounds like a good idea, you can sign up in the top corner, too 🙂

Creating a Salon

One of the most fun projects I have been invited to so far in my PhD program has been my time as a Fellow of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project. We meet and discuss ways that we can interact with the to local community that surrounds Chapman University, and we talk about the schools and projects around the world that work to embody and live out the educational framework Freire presented throughout his writing. We also plan events where we can host speakers to discuss the concerns that everyone faces outside (and sometimes within) the university.

To that end, I have been part of a subcommittee that has worked to develop a framework for a salon (think Modernist Salons of Paris and New York that encouraged discussion and participation from and with everyone) to take place on campus. And I presented, as a stretch and because I knew I would love it, that for the first topic we discuss comics and comic books. I expected the idea to be disregarded, because most of the rest of the board are not involved or particularly interested in such a niche community. But everyone so far has loved it. We presented the idea to one of the (apparently billions) Vice Chancellors of the university, and he was completely supportive of the idea.

So now I have to help make this whole project become real. It will take place around the time of WonderCon, and it will be open to the community. And we would really love to have creators participate, but we’re trying to work out those details. More information will be posted here as soon as it all gets settled. But if you’re in the area for WonderCon, Chapman University (where the Salon will happen) isn’t that far away.

Also, if you want to chime in with ideas, that would be awesome! Leave comments here or reach out through the contact page.