Book by Barbara Slater Stern and Marcella L. Kyslika
Review by Timothy J. Jones
Senior Academic Counselor
University College, University of Oklahoma
In Contemporary Readings in Curriculum, the editors feature a collection of articles from a variety of journals that provide a comprehensive overview of many topics, including: a brief history of curriculum studies in the United States, a survey of the current status of the K-12 curriculum in key academic areas, consideration of the influence of the co-curriculum, remarks about the political aspects of the curriculum, the interaction of diversity and the curriculum, and a selection of current issues in curricular studies. Many college and university-level advisors who may not be familiar with contemporary trends in the K-12 curriculum and the effect that curriculum has on students who are continuing to higher education will profit from reading this well-chosen collection.
Advising itself is now seen as being a key part of the teaching mission of colleges and universities. The current emphasis on advising as teaching along with the development of advising syllabi make it important to situate advising within the larger context of curriculum. In the book’s final chapter, “The Lure of Learning in Teaching,” Daniel P. Liston presents the concept of “an insistent invitation… one that resolutely conveys to students the value of what is being offered and persists in looking for ways to connect students to the grace of these great things” (p. 338). In the course of their teaching responsibilities, advisors and professors both offer students insistent invitations to join the educational community.
If, as Elliot W. Eisner comments, “the major aim of schooling is to enable students to become the architects of their own education so that they can invent themselves during the course of their lives” (p. 13), it is critical that advisors be familiar with history and trends in curriculum and also be aware of the curriculum of advising. Advisors who read this book should use the article abstracts and topic guide to determine which articles will be most useful for them. Eisner’s “Questionable Assumptions about Schooling” is an excellent introduction to key ideas in the field of curriculum studies.
Another reading from the book that advisors should be encouraged to sample is Neil Postman’s “The Information Age: A Blessing or a Curse?” in which the author observes, “Information comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, in enormous volume, at high speeds, severed from import and meaning. And there is no loom to weave it all into fabric” (p. 76). Advisors, especially those who are aware of what curriculum is and how they participate in it, can help students learn how to choose the information that they will weave into the fabric of their own lives.
The readings mentioned above can serve as starting points for advisors interested in forming discussion groups for professional development. Where as Contemporary Readings in Curriculum in its entirety will be most useful for advisors who are doing graduate work in curriculum studies or who want to learn more about the K-12 curriculum and its possible effects on college students.
Contemporary Readings in Curriculum. (2008). Book by Barbara Slater Stern and Marcella L. Kyslika, eds. Review by Timothy J. Jones. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications. 393 pp. $52.95 ISBN 978-1-4129-4472-4