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predisposition to the latter sense of function seems tobe at the heart of his misreading of the Committee of Ten report. To Tyler,studying history or algebra (as was universally recommended by the Committeeof Ten), if they are not meeting an obvious individual or social need, is a way offulfilling the vocational needs of a budding historian or mathematician. Otherwise,how can one justify the existence of mathematics qua mathematics in thecurriculum? As such, “suggestions from subject-matter specialists” is really nota source in the sense that the other two are. Subject matter is mainly one ofseveral means by which one fulfills individual needs such as vocational aspirations or meets social expectations.
2.7.2.3.Needs of the Learner as a Source of Objectives
The section on the “learners themselves as a source of educational objectives,”although it is less strained and more analytical than the one on subjectmatter, is nevertheless elliptical. Tyler proceeds from the assumption that“education is a process of changing behavior patterns of people.” (p.4). This notion,of course, is now widely popular in this country, but, even if one were to acceptsuch a view, it would be important to know the ways in which education wouldbe different from other means of changing behavior, such as, hypnosis, shocktreatment, brainwashing, sensitivity training, indoctrination, drug therapy, andtorture. Given such a definition, the differences between education and theseother ways of changing behavior are not obvious or simple.Tyler proceeds from his basic definition of education to a consideration of thereason for wanting to study the learner: “A study of the learners themselveswould seek to identify needed changes in behavior patterns of the students whichthe educational institution should seek to produce.” (p.4). There follows an extendeddiscussion of “needs,” how they are determined, and how they contribute to the determination of educational objectives. The notion of needs as a basis forcurriculum development was not a new one when Tyler used it in 1950. It had been a stable element in the curriculum literature for about three decades. When tied to the biological concept of homeostasis, the term “needs” seems tohave a clear-cut meaning. Hunger, for example, may be conveniently translated into a need for food when one has in mind a physiological state of equilibrium.Need becomes a much trickier concept when one speaks of the “need of ahaircut” or the “need for a good spanking.” These needs involve rather complexsocial norms on which good men and true may differ sharply. Tyler astutelyrecognized that the concept of need has no meaning without a set of norms, andhe described the kind of study he envisioned essentially as a two-step process:”first, finding the present status of the students, and second, comparing this status to acceptable norms in order to identify the gaps or needs.”(p.6).This formulationis virtually identical to what Bobbitt referred to as “shortcomings” in the first book written exclusively on the curriculum, published in 1918. The keyterm, in Tyler’s version, of course, is “acceptable norms.” They are neitherself-evident nor easy to formulate.
One of Tyler’s illustrations of the process he advocates is a case in point: A“discovery” is made that 60 percent of ninth-grade boys read only comic strips.The “unimaginative”teacher, Tyler says, might interpret this as suggesting theneed for more attention to comic strips in the classroom; the imaginative teacheruses the data as a justification “for setting up objectives gradually to broaden anddeepen these reading interests.”(p.10).What is the acceptable norm implicit inTyler’s illustration? Apparently, it is not astatistical norm since this could implythat the 40 percent minority of boys should be encouraged to emulate the 60percent majority. The norm seems to be the simple conviction that havingbroader and deeper reading interests is better than limiting oneself to the readingof comic strips. The question is what does the 60 percent figure contribute to the process of stating educational objectives. What difference would it have made ifthe figure were 80 percent or 40 percent? The key factor seems to be the nature and strength of the teacher’s conviction as the acceptable norm, toward which thestatus study contributes very little.The whole notion of need has no meaning without an established norm, and,therefore, it is impossible even to identify “needs” without it. As Archambault(1957) puts it, “An objective need can be discovered, but only within a completelydefined context in which the normal level of attainment can be clarified.”Furthermore, even when a genuine need is identified, the role of the school as aninstitution for the remediation of that or other needs would have to be considered.Even the course that remediation should take once the need and the responsibilityhave been established is an open question. These serious value questionsassociated with the identification and remediation of needs make the concept adeceptively complex one whose advantages are more apparent than real.Komisar, for example, has described this double use of need, “one to reportdeficiencies and another to prescribe for their alleviation,” as so vague andelusive as to constitute a “linguistic luxury.” 18As already mentioned, Tyler is acutely aware of the difficulties of “deriving”educational objectives from studies of the child. His last word on thesubject in this section is to suggest to his students that they compile some dataand then try using those data as the basis for formulating objectives. He suggeststhis exercise in part to illustrate the difficulty of the process. Given the almostimpossible complexity of the procedure and the crucial but perhaps arbitrary roleof the interpreter’s value structure or “philosophy of life and of education,” onewonders whether the concept of need deserves any place in the process offormulating objectives. Certainly, the concept of need turns out to be of no helpin so far as avoiding central value decisions as the basis for the selection ofeducational objectives, and without that feature much of its appeal seems todisappear. As Dearden concluded in his analysis of the term: “the concept of‘need’ is an attractive one in education because it seems to offer an escape fromarguments about value by means of a straightforward appeal to the factsempirically determined by the expert. But . . . it is false to suppose thatjudgments of value can thus be escaped. Such judgments may be assumedwithout any awareness that assumptions are being made, but they are notescaped.” (Dearden,1966:p.17).
2.7.2.4. Studied of Contemporary Life as a Source of Objectives
Tyler’s section on studies of contemporary life as a source of curricularobjectives follows the pattern set by the section on the learner. His conception ofthe role that such studies play in determining objectives is also similar in manyrespects to that of his spiritual ancestor, Franklin Bobbitt, who stimulated thepractice of activity analysis in the curriculum field. Like Bobbitt, Tyler urges thatone “divide life” into a set of manageable categories and then proceed to collectdata of various kinds which may be fitted into these categories. One of Tyler’sillustrations is especially reminiscent of Bobbitt: “Students in the schoolobtain[ed] from their parents for several days the problems they were having tosolve that involved arithmetic. The collection and analysis of this set of problemssuggested the arithmetic operations and the kinds of mathematical problemswhich are commonly encountered by adults, and became the basis of thearithmetic curriculum.”(Tyler,p.16-17).
Tyler tends to be more explicitly aware than Bobbitt of the traditionalcriticisms that have been directed against this approach. Bode (1927), for example, oncepointed out that “no scientific analysis known to man can determine thedesirability or the need of anything.” The question of whether a community witha given burglary rate needs a larger po
lice force or more burglars is entirely aquestion of what the community wants. Tyler’s implicit response to this andother traditional criticism of this approach is to argue that in his rationale studiesof contemporary life do not constitute the sole basis for deriving objectives, and,of course, that such studies have to be checked against “an acceptableeducational philosophy.”(p.13).In this sense, the contemporary life source is just asdependent on the philosophical screen as is the learner source.
2.7.2.4.1.The Philosophical Screen
Tyler’s treatment of the section on the learner and on contemporary life assources of educational objectives are roughly parallel. In each case, Tyler isaware of the serious shortcomings of the source but assumes that they can beovercome, first, by not relying exclusively on any one of them — in a sensecounting on his eclecticism to blunt the criticism. And second (and probablymore important), he appeals to philosophy as the means for covering anydeficiencies. This suggests that it is philosophy after all that is the source ofTyler’s objectives and that the stipulated three sources are mere windowdressing. It is Tyler’s use of the concept of a philosophical screen, then, that ismost crucial in understanding his rationale, at least in so far as stating theobjectives is concerned.Even if we were to grant that people go through life with some kind ofprimitive value structure spinning around in their heads, to say that educationalobjectives somehow flow out of such a value structure is to say practicallynothing at all. Tyler’s proposal that educational objectives be filtered through aphilosophical screen is not so much demonstrably false as it is trivial, almostvacuous. It simply does not address itself in any significant sense to the questionof which objectives we leave in and which we throw out once we have committedourselves to the task of stating them. Filtering educational objectives through aphilosophical screen is simply another way of saying that one is forced to makechoices from among the thousands or perhaps millions of objectives that one candraw from the sources that Tyler cites. (The number of objectives is a function ofthe level of specificity.) Bobbitt was faced with the same predicament when he was engaged in his massive curriculum project in Los Angeles in 1921-23.Bobbitt’s solution was to seek “the common judgment of thoughtful men andwomen,”(1922,p.7). An appeal to consensus. Tyler’s appeal is to divine philosophy, butthe effect is equally arbitrary as long as we are still in the dark as to how one arrives at a philosophy and how one engages in the screening process.Take, for example, one of Tyler’s own illustrations of how a philosophyoperates: “If the school believes that its primary function is to teach people toadjust to society it will strongly emphasize obedience to present authorities,loyalty to the present forms and traditions, skills in carrying on the presenttechniques of life; whereas if it emphasizes the revolutionary function of the school it will be more concerned with critical analysis, ability to meet newproblems, independence and self-direction, freedom, and self-discipline. Again,it is clear that the nature of the philosophy of the school can affect the: selection ofeducational objectives.”(p.23).AlthoughTyler appears elsewhere to have predilection for the latter philosophy, we really have no criterion to appeal to inmaking a choice. We are urged only to make our educational objectivesconsistent with our educational philosophy, and this makes the choice ofobjectives precisely as arbitrary as the choice of philosophy. One may, therefore,express a philosophy that conceives of human beings as instruments of the stateand the function of the schools as programming the youth of the nation to react ina fixed manner when appropriate stimuli are presented. As long as we derive a setof objectives consistent


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predisposition to the latter sense of function seems tobe at the heart of his misreading of the Committee of Ten report. To Tyler,studying history or algebra (as was universally recommended by the Committeeof Ten), if they are not meeting an obvious individual or social need, is a way offulfilling the vocational needs of a budding historian or mathematician. Otherwise,how can one justify the existence of mathematics qua mathematics in thecurriculum? As such, “suggestions from subject-matter specialists” is really nota source in the sense that the other two are. Subject matter is mainly one ofseveral means by which one fulfills individual needs such as vocational aspirations or meets social expectations.
2.7.2.3.Needs of the Learner as a Source of Objectives
The section on the “learners themselves as a source of educational objectives,”although it is less strained and more analytical than the one on subjectmatter, is nevertheless elliptical. Tyler proceeds from the assumption that“education is a process of changing behavior patterns of people.” (p.4). This notion,of course, is now widely popular in this country, but, even if one were to acceptsuch a view, it would be important to know the ways in which education wouldbe different from other means of changing behavior, such as, hypnosis, shocktreatment, brainwashing, sensitivity training, indoctrination, drug therapy, andtorture. Given such a definition, the differences between education and theseother ways of changing behavior are not obvious or simple.Tyler proceeds from his basic definition of education to a consideration of thereason for wanting to study the learner: “A study of the learners themselveswould seek to identify needed changes in behavior patterns of the students whichthe educational institution should seek to produce.” (p.4). There follows an extendeddiscussion of “needs,” how they are determined, and how they contribute to the determination of educational objectives. The notion of needs as a basis forcurriculum development was not a new one when Tyler used it in 1950. It had been a stable element in the curriculum literature for about three decades. When tied to the biological concept of homeostasis, the term “needs” seems tohave a clear-cut meaning. Hunger, for example, may be conveniently translated into a need for food when one has in mind a physiological state of equilibrium.Need becomes a much trickier concept when one speaks of the “need of ahaircut” or the “need for a good spanking.” These needs involve rather complexsocial norms on which good men and true may differ sharply. Tyler astutelyrecognized that the concept of need has no meaning without a set of norms, andhe described the kind of study he envisioned essentially as a two-step process:”first, finding the present status of the students, and second, comparing this status to acceptable norms in order to identify the gaps or needs.”(p.6).This formulationis virtually identical to what Bobbitt referred to as “shortcomings” in the first book written exclusively on the curriculum, published in 1918. The keyterm, in Tyler’s version, of course, is “acceptable norms.” They are neitherself-evident nor easy to formulate.
One of Tyler’s illustrations of the process he advocates is a case in point: A“discovery” is made that 60 percent of ninth-grade boys read only comic strips.The “unimaginative”teacher, Tyler says, might interpret this as suggesting theneed for more attention to comic strips in the classroom; the imaginative teacheruses the data as a justification “for setting up objectives gradually to broaden anddeepen these reading interests.”(p.10).What is the acceptable norm implicit inTyler’s illustration? Apparently, it is not astatistical norm since this could implythat the 40 percent minority of boys should be encouraged to emulate the 60percent majority. The norm seems to be the simple conviction that havingbroader and deeper reading interests is better than limiting oneself to the readingof comic strips. The question is what does the 60 percent figure contribute to the process of stating educational objectives. What difference would it have made ifthe figure were 80 percent or 40 percent? The key factor seems to be the nature and strength of the teacher’s conviction as the acceptable norm, toward which thestatus study contributes very little.The whole notion of need has no meaning without an established norm, and,therefore, it is impossible even to identify “needs” without it. As Archambault(1957) puts it, “An objective need can be discovered, but only within a completelydefined context in which the normal level of attainment can be clarified.”Furthermore, even when a genuine need is identified, the role of the school as aninstitution for the remediation of that or other needs would have to be considered.Even the course that remediation should take once the need and the responsibilityhave been established is an open question. These serious value questionsassociated with the identification and remediation of needs make the concept adeceptively complex one whose advantages are more apparent than real.Komisar, for example, has described this double use of need, “one to reportdeficiencies and another to prescribe for their alleviation,” as so vague andelusive as to constitute a “linguistic luxury.” 18As already mentioned, Tyler is acutely aware of the difficulties of “deriving”educational objectives from studies of the child. His last word on thesubject in this section is to suggest to his students that they compile some dataand then try using those data as the basis for formulating objectives. He suggeststhis exercise in part to illustrate the difficulty of the process. Given the almostimpossible complexity of the procedure and the crucial but perhaps arbitrary roleof the interpreter’s value structure or “philosophy of life and of education,” onewonders whether the concept of need deserves any place in the process offormulating objectives. Certainly, the concept of need turns out to be of no helpin so far as avoiding central value decisions as the basis for the selection ofeducational objectives, and without that feature much of its appeal seems todisappear. As Dearden concluded in his analysis of the term: “the concept of‘need’ is an attractive one in education because it seems to offer an escape fromarguments about value by means of a straightforward appeal to the factsempirically determined by the expert. But . . . it is false to suppose thatjudgments of value can thus be escaped. Such judgments may be assumedwithout any awareness that assumptions are being made, but they are notescaped.” (Dearden,1966:p.17).
2.7.2.4. Studied of Contemporary Life as a Source of Objectives
Tyler’s section on studies of contemporary life as a source of curricularobjectives follows the pattern set by the section on the learner. His conception ofthe role that such studies play in determining objectives is also similar in manyrespects to that of his spiritual ancestor, Franklin Bobbitt, who stimulated thepractice of activity analysis in the curriculum field. Like Bobbitt, Tyler urges thatone “divide life” into a set of manageable categories and then proceed to collectdata of various kinds which may be fitted into these categories. One of Tyler’sillustrations is especially reminiscent of Bobbitt: “Students in the schoolobtain[ed] from their parents for several days the problems they were having tosolve that involved arithmetic. The collection and analysis of this set of problemssuggested the arithmetic operations and the kinds of mathematical problemswhich are commonly encountered by adults, and became the basis of thearithmetic curriculum.”(Tyler,p.16-17).
Tyler tends to be more explicitly aware than Bobbitt of the traditionalcriticisms that have been directed against this approach. Bode (1927), for example, oncepointed out that “no scientific analysis known to man can determine thedesirability or the need of anything.” The question of whether a community witha given burglary rate needs a larger po
lice force or more burglars is entirely aquestion of what the community wants. Tyler’s implicit response to this andother traditional criticism of this approach is to argue that in his rationale studiesof contemporary life do not constitute the sole basis for deriving objectives, and,of course, that such studies have to be checked against “an acceptableeducational philosophy.”(p.13).In this sense, the contemporary life source is just asdependent on the philosophical screen as is the learner source.
2.7.2.4.1.The Philosophical Screen
Tyler’s treatment of the section on the learner and on contemporary life assources of educational objectives are roughly parallel. In each case, Tyler isaware of the serious shortcomings of the source but assumes that they can beovercome, first, by not relying exclusively on any one of them — in a sensecounting on his eclecticism to blunt the criticism. And second (and probablymore important), he appeals to philosophy as the means for covering anydeficiencies. This suggests that it is philosophy after all that is the source ofTyler’s objectives and that the stipulated three sources are mere windowdressing. It is Tyler’s use of the concept of a philosophical screen, then, that ismost crucial in understanding his rationale, at least in so far as stating theobjectives is concerned.Even if we were to grant that people go through life with some kind ofprimitive value structure spinning around in their heads, to say that educationalobjectives somehow flow out of such a value structure is to say practicallynothing at all. Tyler’s proposal that educational objectives be filtered through aphilosophical screen is not so much demonstrably false as it is trivial, almostvacuous. It simply does not address itself in any significant sense to the questionof which objectives we leave in and which we throw out once we have committedourselves to the task of stating them. Filtering educational objectives through aphilosophical screen is simply another way of saying that one is forced to makechoices from among the thousands or perhaps millions of objectives that one candraw from the sources that Tyler cites. (The number of objectives is a function ofthe level of specificity.) Bobbitt was faced with the same predicament when he was engaged in his massive curriculum project in Los Angeles in 1921-23.Bobbitt’s solution was to seek “the common judgment of thoughtful men andwomen,”(1922,p.7). An appeal to consensus. Tyler’s appeal is to divine philosophy, butthe effect is equally arbitrary as long as we are still in the dark as to how one arrives at a philosophy and how one engages in the screening process.Take, for example, one of Tyler’s own illustrations of how a philosophyoperates: “If the school believes that its primary function is to teach people toadjust to society it will strongly emphasize obedience to present authorities,loyalty to the present forms and traditions, skills in carrying on the presenttechniques of life; whereas if it emphasizes the revolutionary function of the school it will be more concerned with critical analysis, ability to meet newproblems, independence and self-direction, freedom, and self-discipline. Again,it is clear that the nature of the philosophy of the school can affect the: selection ofeducational objectives.”(p.23).AlthoughTyler appears elsewhere to have predilection for the latter philosophy, we really have no criterion to appeal to inmaking a choice. We are urged only to make our educational objectivesconsistent with our educational philosophy, and this makes the choice ofobjectives precisely as arbitrary as the choice of philosophy. One may, therefore,express a philosophy that conceives of human beings as instruments of the stateand the function of the schools as programming the youth of the nation to react ina fixed manner when appropriate stimuli are presented. As long as we derive a setof objectives consistent


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