managers who “are responsible for making sure that those underneath them – teachers and
curriculum specialists – keep the system running efficiently” (Null, 2011, p. 41).
Curriculum in the past 15-20 years has been particularly influenced by business models
with common terms such as “curriculum auditing” and “curriculum alignment” being
coined by systems thinkers such as Fenwick English. This paradigm, says Wesley Null,
resonates with business leaders who often heavily influence educational policies. The roots
can be traced as far back as the late nineteenth century and is especially prominent in the
essentialism movement of the 1930’s – particularly the writings of Franklin Bobbitt and
W.W. Charters. The pedagogy of this philosophy requires subject matter teaching that is
highly specialized and driven by what can be measured through objective methods of
testing that create quick, substantial data, and seemingly irrefutable conclusions.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is an example of such a system Null writes about.
President Obama and his predecessor have made it clear that NCLB endeavors to prepare
students to compete in “global marketplace.” Emphasis on “scientifically-based” research
(SBR) involves rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and
valuable knowledge. As Null famously argues, “It is hard to argue this point. What kind of
research would someone want? Flabby and random?” (Null, 2011, p. 38).
Where the need for interdisciplinary teaching and learning has been anything but
ignored, the “fix” is often, particularly on the secondary level, “mini-courses” or
“seminars” as described in M.J. Adler’s The Paideia Proposal. Brief in duration and
skimpy in content, they attempt to address what Bronoswki has referred to as the “double
vision of the conscience,” and there seems to be little hope that such angst will be relieved
by shallow additions to the curriculum.