Gabriel Harvey's 16th Century Theory of Curriculum - Journal of

Gabriel Harvey's 16th Century Theory of Curriculum - Journal of

FEATURE ARTICLE Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum STEPHEN TRICHE Nicholls State University The poets must be read. History must be ...

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Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum STEPHEN TRICHE Nicholls State University

The poets must be read. History must be mastered. The writers in all the noble arts, even mathematics, physics, and—unless I’m mistaken—metaphysics too, must be read and studied, and, for the sake of practice, must be praised, interpreted, corrected, criticized, and refuted. … In sum, that course of subjects which the Greeks call “general education” [encyclopedia], and whatever other curriculum might exist for talent and learning, must be completed in their entirety by the orator (Harvey, 1577/2001, p. 15 my emphasis).1


ITH THIS USE OF THE WORD CURRICULUM, Gabriel Harvey’s [ca.1550 – 1631] Rhetor, published in 1577, can be understood an early work of curriculum theory. The idea of a curriculum theory or the idea of curriculum as a field of study is generally understood to be a twentieth-century construct with the publication of Franklin Bobbitt’s (1918) The Curriculum (Pinar, et al, 1995). With the development of curriculum as a distinct field of study, the responsibility for developing curriculum was slowly taken away from classroom teachers over the course of the twentieth-century and given to curriculum “experts” first at the district level, then the state and finally nationally. Harvey’s Rhetor disrupts this history by demonstrating that the idea of curriculum theory as a field of study is not a relatively recent phenomenon. Originally a two-day lecture on how to prepare sixteenth-century students in the art of Latin rhetoric, the Rhetor provides an example of how the practice of thinking about and studying courses of study taken by students has been an important aspect of a teacher’s regular instructional practices throughout the history of education. I would further suggest that the curriculum practice that Harvey presents continued to be operative until the end of the nineteenth century as traditional Latin grammar schools and colleges in the United States, which continued to function much as they had in Harvey’s day, were slowly transformed into the modern school curriculum (Kliebard, 2004). Harvey’s theory of curriculum is framed by the ancient educational concept known as the “three-fold tool of education”: Nature, Art and Exercise,2 which had been promoted by Plato, Isocrates, Plutarch, and especially Cicero. The “three-fold tool” continued to be the organizing Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


Triche w Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum

principle for the liberal arts course of study throughout the middle ages. As long as Latin learning was central to the educative enterprise, Nature, Art and Exercise continued to influence a student’s course of study as the liberal arts were transformed into the humanities with the rise of modernity (Levin, 1987). In the three-fold tool of education, Nature refers to more than just a student’s physical and mental gifts for learning that were endowed at birth. Nature also refers to a student’s upbringing prior to entering school, including home life and culture or class. Art is what a student learns in school. If a student entered school with great gifts, then Art would enhance these gifts. If a student entered school with lesser gifts and weaknesses, then Art would improve upon and overcome these weaknesses. In both cases, Art was understood as helping to bring the student to greater perfection. Because Art could not teach a student everything, Exercise continued the education process by asking the student to use what was learned in school in everyday experience. Exercise can be understood as a form of or an extension of natural experience. Experience on its own was understood, as it is today, to be a way of enhancing a person’s Nature, but by adding Art to the education process, experience, through Exercise, became an even greater teacher. The premise of this paper is that this three-fold tool of education, as used by Harvey in his Rhetor, provides an early form of curriculum theory. In addition, while the terms, Nature, Art and Exercise, no longer appear explicitly in current curriculum or educational discourses, the broader concepts to which they apply have continued to play a significant role in twentiethcentury curriculum discourses. This will be traced using three works. The first, John Dewey’s (1912) The Child and the Curriculum, Alfred North Whitehead’s (1928) “The aims of education,” and William Doll’s (1993) A Post-Modern Perspective on Curriculum. As an organizing principle for developing curriculum, Nature, Art and Exercise further disrupts our received understanding of curriculum as being organized by the history and logic of the content disciplines upon which modern school curriculum is based. Instead, the three-fold tool offers a way of thinking a bout curriculum as a process that leads students to good action, or eupraxia that prepares students to live well. Harvey’s Rhetor is a lecture delivered initially in the spring of 1575 as one of several lectures at the commencement of the spring term at Cambridge University. Harvey received his bachelor of arts from Christ College, Cambridge, in 1569. After failing election to a fellowship at Christ College to pursue his masters of arts, in 1570 he received a fellowship to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. He received his master of arts from Pembroke Hall in 1573 and was appointed to a Greek lectureship later that year. While teaching Greek rhetoric at Pembroke Hall, he received an additional appointment to the position of university praelector or professor of rhetoric in April 1574. Harvey held these positions until the latter part of 1576 when he apparently left Cambridge because of an outbreak of the plague and to rest from the rigors of academia. During this period, he extended his leave from the university to pursue a career in government service, which was one of Harvey’s long-term goals. After failing to receive a government appointment, he returned to Cambridge in 1578, to study law, receiving a fellowship at Trinity Hall. He held the fellowship until 1592 at which time he left Cambridge to practice law in London and still hoping for a career in the government, which he would never attain (Wilson, 1945 & Stern, 1979). A rhetor is defined as a person who achieves all the qualities that are needed to be an excellent orator. By being afforded the opportunity to give one of the commencement lectures, Harvey was allowed to present the principles and practices of the art of rhetoric that framed his “theory” of Eloquence. In other words, the lecture gave Harvey the opportunity to “advertise” his Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


Triche w Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum

rhetoric courses to students. The lecture also gave Harvey the opportunity to inform students of his intellectual or academic “party.” Beginning with his time as a student in Christ College, Harvey aligned himself with the followers of the French arts master, Peter Ramus3. At the time, Christ College was the center of Ramism at Cambridge. Ramus was opposed not only by the majority of faculty and students at Cambridge, but at universities across Europe because his attempts to refine the liberal arts was as understood to be an attack on Aristotle’s philosophy. Aristotle was all but sacred to Medieval Scholasticism, which formed the foundation of the liberal arts at universities across Europe. Ramus argued that Aristotelian reasoning was at the same time too complex and incomplete. He believed that Aristotle’s arts of rhetoric and dialectic were too obscure to have practical utility. For his attacks on Aristotle, Ramus was banned from teaching at the University of Paris, and led eventually to his murder under the cover of the St. Bartholowmew’s Day massacre.4 Puritan faculty and students made up the majority of Ramus’s followers at Cambridge. The Ramist were led by the Puritan arts master and preacher, Laurence Chaderton, who introduced Ramus’s work to the university several years earlier (Howell, 1961). Probably not coincidently, Chaderton presented a commencement lecture on Ramus’s art of dialectic (or logic) the day prior to Harvey’s lecture and to which Harvey refers (Harvey, 1577/2001). The center of Ramism at Cambridge would move from Christ College to Emmanuel College with its founding in 1584. Ramus’s ideas on the liberal arts remained hotly contested at Cambridge with the Ramist on one side and the followers of Aristotle on the other with students and faculty sometimes coming to blows over the issue. The issues around Ramism continued to be hotly debated until the restoration of the English monarchy following the end of the Puritan Republic in 1660. At that time, Ramus’s works were banned from English universities. His work, however, remained central to other British universities in Scotland and Ireland, as well as at Harvard and Yale in the New England Colony. In addition, Ramus’s tenets and practices had become fairly popular in the English grammar schools, especially, although not exclusively, those run by Puritans.5 Ramism would be maintained with the rise of the dissenting academies in England following the restoration. In the United States, colleges like Princeton and Columbia were founded to imitate these dissenting academies. The commencement lecture gave Harvey the opportunity to advance the Ramist party’s position on education and to challenge and critique many of the accepted ideas about teaching and learning held by the more traditional liberal arts faculty. Harvey, however, was not a Puritan. While he was a believer and exponent of the Puritan’s Ramist educational theory and practices, he did not adhere to Puritan religious beliefs or practices, or to any other religion. In his work on Harvey’s marginalia (margin notes), G. C. Moore Smith (1913) observes that Harvey showed little of what it took to be a Puritan. Moore Smith states that Harvey can be best described in both his habits of mind and body as a disciple of the Italian Renaissance. In other words, he dressed and acted in the Italian style, rather than as would be typical of an Englishman of the day. For this he received much derision and ridicule by both peers and students for much of his life, which probably led to his lack of success in his attempts to build a career beyond the university (Stern, 1979 and Levin, 1987). What appears to attract Harvey to the Puritan-Ramus position is its pragmatic approach to learning that focused on the unique relationship the reader brings to the study of a text. Harvey's style of teaching and learning, during his early career, is described by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardin (1986) as “pragmatic humanism.” What further drew Harvey to the Puritan party was the renewed energy Ramism brought to the intellectual enterprise. This is not to diminish Harvey’s association with the Puritan-Ramus party because it is this association, especially when at Cambridge, that is important to understanding Harvey’s Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


Triche w Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum

larger contribution to the development of curriculum in the United States. Although significant in itself, it is not Harvey’s use of the term curriculum alone that makes his Rhetor, as well as many of his other writings, a work of curriculum theory. It is, instead, his critique and advancement of concepts and practices used for the study of the art of rhetoric. The lecture is not so much about how rhetoric should be taught, but about the various activities students should participate in to become a rhetor. Furthermore, because it was generally agreed that the precepts and practices used to attain any one art could be applied to any and all the arts, what Harvey applied to the art of rhetoric was thereby applicable to the practice of all the liberal arts generally. From the very beginning of his Rhetor, Harvey frames his curriculum theory within the threefold educational instrument of Nature, Art, and Exercise. In Harvey’s words: [A]s indeed in the acquisition of all arts and subjects either necessary for use and enjoyment, or distinguished by honor and excellence … has need of the threefold instrument of Nature, Art, and Exercise, without which no one can join the ranks of the outstanding orators. For we are formed by nature, polished by education and instruction,6 and perfected by exercise and experience; nor is talent without instruction, or instruction without talent, or the both of them without habitual exercise sufficient for honor and glory. … But when an excellent and outstanding nature is enriched not only by the artful use of theory and invigorating instruction, but also by constant reading, and careful thought, and frequent and painstaking writing, then and only then does there arise that brilliant and remarkable and indefinable thing, which the Greeks praise in their Demosthenes, and we in Cicero. And he who has been splendidly furnished with all three things in abundance can expect (unless eloquence deceives me) something greater and more divine than both those ancients (1577/2001, p. 7). Harvey’s position is that while Nature is a gift a person receives from the gods, it is Art’s responsibility to either enhance or overcome Nature. Even though experience shows that some students may fail, Harvey tells his audience that all students are given sufficient gifts needed to attain any of the liberal arts. As such, it is important that teachers do not prejudge which of their students might fail. He explains that even impediments like a weak body or stuttering did not keep either Demosthenes from becoming Greece’s greatest orator or Cicero from becoming Rome’s. Harvey criticizes those teachers whose Art diminishes rather than enhances a student’s natural abilities “if one could call it art” (p. 7). Speaking through the voice of Eloquence herself, Harvey warns his audience: “She will be most troubled and embittered, and rightly so, that her gifts are not recognized by men, but are diminished and corrupted” (p.8). To avoid diminishing the gifts granted to students by Nature, teachers need to practice an Art that does not limit learning to a student’s childish imitation of the ancients, but, instead, fosters an Art “struggles to surpass them” (p. 9). Quoting Cicero, Harvey cautions his audience not to forget that “many students are greater than their teachers” (p.9). Following Ramus, Harvey describes his theory of Art in terms of simplicity, clarity, and, most importantly, brevity: “because brevity is pleasant, and clarity delightful, but also so that eloquence might be learned in a shorter time, and with less labor and richer results” (p. 11). Art is at its best when it is not “entangled in countless difficulties,” “meaningless arguments,” or “useless precepts” because, he argues, such an Art frees learning, in his words, “to emerge … [whereupon it] bursts into flower” (p. 12). Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


Triche w Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum

Despite his adoption of the Latin term curriculum (a racetrack) from his academic hero Ramus, for Harvey education was still a journey and had not yet become a race. He continued to present the pursuit of studying the liberal arts with the Latin term cursus (or course) that the student travels, rather than as a set racetrack upon which the student must compete (Triche & McKnight, 2005). Moreover, Harvey describes the teacher’s role as simply to lead or accompany the student on the journey as a companion. Yet, it is important to Harvey that the student’s journey to knowledge should not be a struggle through a forest of ideas, but be traveled upon a well-established highway. He declares, “For I have decided to lead my auditors to Eloquence not along winding trails in the wilderness, but by the well-traveled and public ‘royal road’” (1577/2001, p. 5-6). While this “royal road” is the way to learning prepared by Ramus’s one and only method (Triche & Mcknight, 2005), Harvey presents a concept of method that is a means for easing the student’s journey, rather than fixing the student upon an unchanging and repetitious track. Although it may well be that Harvey’s use of the term curriculum, the afterthought that it appears (see endnote, 1), has been the very action that placed education onto its present confining racecourse. In Harvey’s theory of curriculum, Art and Nature, while important, play only an intermediate role in educating the student. It is the final instrument, Exercise, which becomes Harvey’s “instrument of instruments.” He explains that without Exercise, “the sparks of nature are easily extinguished, the flowers and ornaments of art and learning languish, and eloquence itself grows cold, losing its lifeblood” (1577/2001, p. 20). It is Practice, then, that brings both Nature and Art to life. Later in his career, Harvey (1592/1923) will say of Exercise: Experience [exercise], the onely life of perfection, & onely perfection of life. Whatsoever occasion causeth me to be mistaken, as over-much addicted to Theory, without respect of action: (for that is one of the especiallest points, which I am importuned to resolve:) I never made account of any study, meditation, conference, or Exercise, that importeth not effectual use, & that aymeth not altogether at action: as the singular mark, whereat every Arte, & every virtue is to levell (p. 76-77). In the Rhetor, Harvey emphasizes, “Without exercise, study, diligence, [and] thought, men can do nothing, not even open their mouths to speak” (1577/2001, p. 25). The power that Exercise possesses to educate is found in its own twin instruments of analysis and genesis. Analysis, the first instrument of Exercise, is the use of dialectical invention for finding arguments, like “Penelope unraveling her web” (p. 26), to take apart the writings of the past. The principles of analysis are then used to compare what one has discovered, first, to “artistic theory” (what one finds in texts), and, second, to one’s own life experiences. Harvey maintained that comparing the things discovered in a text to one’s life experiences ensures that when composing a discourse one is speaking for himself and not simply “parroting” or “aping” someone else's words and ideas. Harvey explains that it is from our experiences in life that the arts were originally created (Harvey, 1577/2001). He further places himself within an empirical tradition of analysis by adding that it is through “observation,” as well as “experience,” that analysis is truly employed. Quoting Ramus, Harvey adds that these two words, experience and observation, need to be posted on the door of every school to remind both students and teachers that “whatever experience ... has rejected should meet with your disapproval, and be cast aside” (p. 28). Genesis, that second instrument of Exercise, what today we call synthesis, is the use of Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


Triche w Gabriel Harvey’s 16th Century Theory of Curriculum

dialectical judgment to reweave and arrange those arguments discovered by analysis into a new discourse. Therefore, genesis completes the work that analysis only begins. Harvey asserts that without doing both, neither the students nor their teachers are engaging in an educative action. He further maintains that, while a person uses genesis in speaking (oration) or even when engaging in thought and reflection, genesis possesses its greatest power to educate in the act of writing. Harvey explains that “the chief purpose for this instrument ... is to write as much as possible, and as precisely as possible” (p. 25). Thus, what Harvey is proposing is that to live as an educated person, one must employ both instruments of analysis and genesis in everyday life. Interestingly, it is during his discussion of Exercise that Harvey criticizes those unprofessional professors who only apply the rules of Art to analysis and do not engage in genesis themselves. According to Harvey, being educated requires one to engage in writing (composition), which requires art masters to engage in publishing (or making their views public), and not simply to engage in the act of teaching alone. He ridicules those who do not publish, calling them unmanly anti-intellectuals who are without any praxis, adding: “Let them throw away the books, burn the libraries, bid a long farewell to studies” (p. 26). Harvey’s concept of Exercise, with its integration of analysis and genesis as the key components of the educational act, if not directly related, resembles closely John Dewey’s (1896) position that knowing and doing are one and the same act taking place within an organic circle of learning presented in “The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology.” It also appears to be related to Paulo Freire’s (1970/2003) idea of learning as “invention and reinvention.” Moreover, it emerges similarly in Dwayne Huebner’s (1987/1999) essay, “Teaching as Vocation,” in which he calls teachers to live intentionally by being open to change in their everyday lives in schools. While four hundred years separate Harvey and Dewey, the three-fold tool of Nature, Art and Exercise remained an important educational discourse as long as Latin remained the language of learning, and as students studied their Aristotle, Cicero, and Plutarch. Latin learning continued to dominate U. S. education until the mid to late nineteenth-century. It was at this very time that curriculum began to emerge as a distinct field of study with the rise of the common school movement and as schools transitioned from Latin learning to the current subject area curriculum (Kliebard, 2004). With the ending of Latin as the language of learning, Nature, Art and Exercise would have begun to disappear from the educational discourse, as would Harvey’s ideas on their role in teaching and learning. And yet, Nature, Art and Exercise appear to have their twentieth-century equivalents. For example, they are implied in John Dewey’s (1912) The Child and the Curriculum. They are more explicit in Alfred N. Whitehead’s (1929/1967) “Rhythm of Education” (as romance, precision, and generalization), and are situated non-linearly within William Doll’s (1993) “four R’s” (richness, recursion, relation, and rigor) in A Post-Modern Perspective on Curriculum. When, in The Child and the Curriculum, Dewey discusses the way in which “child study” was being used to frame pedagogy, he is discussing a modern equivalent to the instrument of “Nature.” Dewey argues that educators should not be interested in the study of the child for its own sake, but to better understand what the child brings (his or her nature) to the educational process. For Dewey, as with Harvey, nature does not refer only to a child’s physiological ability. Nature also refers to a child’s social-cultural situation, what Harvey identifies as virtue or upbringing. Likewise, what Dewey describes as the “curriculum” resembles the instrument of “Art” (i.e. that which is taught and learned in school). Many educators recognize Dewey as the father of modern experiential education. His Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


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placing of experience as the critical tool to be used by students to learn from everyday lived activities appears to clearly place Dewey in a similar tradition to Harvey's. In The Child and the Curriculum, Dewey presents experience as a psychological action in which the student is allowed to map the educational terrain for his or her self. Although Dewey applies the concept of method differently from Harvey (remember that for Harvey method provided a student with a “royal road” or well mapped way through the wilderness), they both see learning as a journey through the unknown, rather than a race to obtain specified, pre-established objectives. At the same time, Dewey’s use of the mapping metaphor for the learning process harkens us back to Harvey’s Ramism. In his “Rhythm of Education,” Whitehead presents a “rhythmic cycle” for education of “romance,’ “precision,” and “generalization.” While each stage of Whitehead’s “threefold cycle” is not identical to the ancient instrument of education, it follows the threefold pattern of Nature, Art, and Exercise. Whitehead describes “romance” as “the stage of first apprehension.” It is the stage of “novelty” and “unexplored connections” when knowledge is attained unsystematically and “piecemeal” and begins “stirring the mind” (p. 17-18). What Whitehead describes as “romance” closely resembles what Renaissance school masters, like Ramus and Harvey, describe as “natural dialectic” (i.e. Nature) or the way a child acquires understanding of his or her immediate world before attending formal schooling (i.e. Art). In other words, it is the nature of a child to learn from his or her particular experiences. In addition, arts masters believed that it was through natural dialectic that the Liberal Arts were first organized through trial and error (Ong, 1958; Triche & McKnight, 2005). Whitehead’s second stage of “precision” aligns closely with the second instrument of Art. Whitehead describes “precision” as the stage in the cycle that focuses on “exactness of formulation” (p. 18-19). In precision, the first apprehension of facts in romance gives way to their analysis through which new facts are learned systematically. Not surprisingly, Whitehead’s description of precision closely resembles what arts masters called the Art of Dialectic; it is the rules and precepts used to analyze and order knowledge. It is from the Art of Dialectic that Ramus invents his one and only method for teaching all things, which are vital to Harvey’s curriculum theory (Triche & McKnight, 2005). Whitehead offers little direct explanation for his third rhythmic stage, “generalization,” beyond the concept of synthesis. However, it becomes apparent in his following discussion on “The Cyclic Process” that, like the traditional instrument of Exercise, generalization concerns the use of what is learned from the first two stages in our everyday experiences. Most important to Whitehead’s “rhythmic cycle” the purpose of romance and precision, not unlike Harvey’s concepts of Nature and Art, is found in the experience of using their knowledge in the world. Unlike Harvey, however, for Whitehead, generalization begins the process anew. In other words, generalization provides the beginning for a new cycle of romance, precision, and generalization in the process of education. Here, Whitehead is breaking free of the constraints of the ancient educational instrument as sequential stages, by offering a model of curriculum that is recursive and dynamic. And yet, in his breaking free of an older curriculum tradition, Whitehead is continuing in the spirit of Harvey's genesis by re-conceiving curriculum in new and fresh ways. In Doll’s four R’s (richness, recursion, relations, and rigor), Whitehead’s recurring cycles have become a “network of [four] universalities” (p. 176). As a system of universalities, Doll’s four R’s are not distinct categories. Instead, they blend with one another across blurred boundaries. Even more importantly for the present discussion, these four R’s do not function as stages of development. And yet, the ancient instrument of Nature, Art, and Exercise influence Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


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each of Doll’s four R’s. Doll uses richness to invoke a post-modern transformative curriculum that contains the type of depth to include multiple layers of meaning, thereby offering students multiple interpretations. He proposes that it is through richness that modern schooling can avoid mere training to promote educative practices that truly transforms students. Doll’s richness, while presented to us within a post-modern frame, is related to the need for novelty found in Harvey’s Rhetor. Richness also invokes the sense of wonder that emerges out of Harvey’s genesis. In addition, Doll places richness within the two important curriculum concepts of culture and play. Through culture, Doll is pointing to the key role that environment (an important concept for Dewey) plays in education. In play, Doll is calling for a curriculum that opens up spaces for free and undirected inquiry or discovery. His use of play is influenced by both Dewey’s concept of discovery in The Child and the Curriculum and by Whitehead’s concept of romance. As such, both culture and play are closely connected to the instrument of Nature. What Doll is suggesting by richness, is that when we encounter anything new, we should meet this experience as would a child as it goes about discovering the world upon taking its first steps. Furthermore, to that first apprehension of something new, whether at the age of five or fifty-five, we bring to that new experience our Nature—all that we have so far become at that moment. Next, Doll presents recursion as a process of reflective practice that enables us to learn from our experiences in the world. Doll states, “Recursion aims at developing competence—the ability to organize, combine, inquire, use something heuristically. Its frame is open” (p. 178). Just such an act of “recursive reflection” also lies at the heart of Dewey’s concept of organic learning. As Doll observes, for Dewey “every ending is a new beginning, every new beginning emerges from a prior ending.” (p. 178). As such, Doll’s recursion appears to function roughly like Harvey’s Exercise, each of which requires the inclusion of both analysis and genesis for there to be an educative act. As a way for developing “competence,” Doll’s recursion appears to further function like the ancient instrument of Art. According to Doll, recursion necessitates that others, be they peers or teachers, consider, critique, and respond to our work. Doll presents this aspect of the curriculum process as a dialogical journey, a journey of negotiation—not unlike Harvey’s Art, where knowing “emerges,” “bursting into flower,” rather than being presented as a simple repetitive drill that prizes some prescribed, inert standard within a modern curriculum frame. Doll proposes that the next of his four R’s, relations, is both pedagogically and culturally important to a transformative curriculum. As such, Doll’s conception of relations functions as all three educational instruments of Nature, Art and Exercise. According to Doll, “pedagogical relations” focus “on the connections within a curriculum’s structure” (p. 179). These relations are developed through the recursive process that provides the curriculum with reflective richness. The current curriculum, with its requirement for students to master a multitude of standards within a preset and static frame, is constrained within a flat or monochromatic structure. By placing the current curriculum within a recursive relationship, where a non-linear sense of time is part of the developmental process, Doll argues that “the curriculum frame operating at the beginning of the course is unavoidably different from the curriculum frame operating at the end” (p. 179). Doll suggests that cultural relations emphasize the use of story and conversation as important processes for a curriculum of interpretative knowing. At the center of story, whether historical or mythological, are the important cultural concepts of language and place, both of which provide us with our understandings of culture—how we are situated within a local Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


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community. Conversation provides curriculum with a sense of relatedness that moves culture beyond one’s local situation toward a more global understanding of the world, thereby, expanding space and extending time both historically and futuristically. In other words, conversation calls upon teachers and students to use their imaginations, not only reflectively, but empathetically as well. “Thus,” Doll proposes, “all our interpretations relate to local cultures and interconnect with other cultures and their interpretations via a global matrix” (p. 180). By realizing the contextualized nature of both story and conversation, we are helped to better understand that no act of teaching transmits knowledge directly to students, but as Dewey states indirectly by way of environment (the socio-cultural and technological environments that teachers and students construct in classrooms) (Dewey, 1916/1966). Furthermore, while the curriculum begins with what students know (i.e. their Nature)—what they bring to the educational process, the teacher needs to use this locally contextualized knowing to bring students to global understandings both in terms of the school curriculum (Art) and the experiences of the lived curriculum of a world writ large (Exercise). Doll presents the final of his four R’s, rigor, as a way of living—an approach to the world in which one lives in action and creation. As such, Doll’s rigor appears to loudly echo Harvey’s belief that analysis and genesis should be joined in a single act of learning. Doll’s rigor juxtaposes a modern approach to living in the world that too readily accepts preset categories. Instead, rigor calls upon students to study assumptions and create conversational passages between the reader and a text, as well as the reader and the world. While these conversational passages are indeterminate and tentative, it does not mean that such passages are arbitrary. Instead, suggests Doll, “it allows for a range of possibilities from which actualizations appear” (p. 183). This further depends upon the interaction process itself that promotes a rigor of multiple connections, thereby optimizing the opportunity for, what Doll describes as the, “playing with concepts” (p. 182). In a Scholastic frame, rigor had been the logical demonstration of truth. In a Cartesian frame, rigor depended upon the use of a method of doubt. In Doll’s post-modern curriculum rigor uses an analytical process that does not break down the world into its deductive parts. Postmodern analysis (if one even wants to use such a term) is, instead, a new way of seeing. It is the ability to see the varied aspects of a given situation from multiple perspectives. These varied aspects, however, no longer need to be deductively demonstrated or explained empirically. They only need to be described either as story, or integrated into a conversation Within the current educational framework, Harvey's Exercise, understood as good action, provides educators with a way of critiquing the concept of “best practices,” which, when constrained within a framework of “effective teaching,” as measured by standardized tests, becomes a condition for the establishment of instructional orthodoxy or ortho-practice. The idea of “good action,” because it is just that, an idea, presents educators with a highly generalizable exemplar of how to act. This would suggest that “good action” is not meant to represent any particular standard of activity nor any set of standards. In other words, “good action” cannot be defined or tested by any particular standard of knowing or doing because it is encompassed by both one’s particular experiences and the common experiences of a living community of which a person is a part. Currently (and from Harvey’s view mistakenly) the idea of “best practices” is typically defined as those particular practices that effectively produce, or achieve, a particular preestablished set of outcomes or objectives. Proponents of the concept of “effective” teaching have been engaging in a discourse that has endeavored to replace what they have deemed to be a Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


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highly ambiguous concept of the “good.” The effectiveness of any practice, then, is defined or measured by whether a student achieves the set of prescribed standards. The concept of “good action,” only appears to be ambiguous because it forces one to make an informed judgment of the value of an action given the context in which an action is performed. On the other hand, actions, activities, or practices that have become fixed to a set of standards quickly become static or, to use Alfred N. Whiteheads’ word, “inert” (Whitehead, p. 2). Instead of a student’s activities and a teacher’s practices being part of a dynamic system of living actions, they become a lifeless system of isolated norms. Because learning outcomes are pre-set, the varieties of learning activities students are allowed to participate in also become fixed, limited by a narrow sense of effectiveness established by the standards to be achieved by, at best, habituated learning activities and, at worst, by route memorization. As such, the current welding of best practices to standards does not allow either students or teachers to engage in acts of educative genesis. It is this act of genesis, the creation of new knowledge, of new ways of seeing by presenting the world through new similes that promotes what we have come to poorly describe as learning by refreshing the soul. As Harvey reminds his audience in the introduction of the Rhetor, it is novelty that students crave. Novelty is not only craved by students, but by their teachers as well. Novelty is also central to Dewey’s attempt to blend child study and the curriculum in The Child and the Curriculum, as the teacher sends students to map for themselves the educational wilderness, rather then follow already mapped curriculum. Novelty is central to Whitehead’s concept of “romance” as well, as new knowing begets a new excitement for greater learning. And, finally, novelty is infused in each of Doll’s four R’s, as students and teacher percolate from back and forth among richness, recursion, relations and rigor. Is it not novelty that staves off burnout? What is it that kills the natural curiosity of a child as he or she progress through school? Is it not the staleness and mustiness of unquestioned practice—that most inert of ideas? Using Harvey’s Rhetor to disrupt the history of curriculum as it has been written, we may be able to better understand that the curriculum-as-written will be negotiated by teachers who will reconstruct the expert’s curriculum to better apply their actual classroom situation. In addition, by disrupting the curriculum frame of the content disciplines, teachers have another way to situate their teaching praxis, and to think abut their students’ lives beyond the high-stakes test.

Notes 1

The key sentence in Latin reads: “Denique scientiarum ille orbis, quem Graeci ε)γκυκλοπαιδειαν vocant, & siquod est aliud praeterea ingenij, literarumque curriculum, est conficiendum Oratori vniuersum.” In the printed version of Harvey’s Ciceronianus lecture (1577), which was initially presented at the spring commencement in 1576, a full year after the Rhetor was first delivered, the term “curriculum” does not appear in what is substantially the same quote: Requirit illum orbemscientiarum, quam Graeci ε)γκυκλοπαιδειαν vocant,” in Gabriel Harvey’s Ciceronians, introduced by Harold S. Wilson and translated by Clarence A. Forbes (Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1945), 76-77, and note 76.36. This evidence suggests that Harvey added the term “curriculum” to the printed version of the Rhetor. 2 The Latin term is Exercitatione. Exercitatione translates into English as exercise, practice or experience. Reynolds translates the term as “Practice.” I have chosen to use the “Exercise” in order to avoid confusion with our current use of the word practice. 3 Ramus first uses the term curriculum in his Professio Regio address in 1563. It is from that address that Johann Freigius publish a book of ramist maps that diagram Ramus’s address from which Harvey uses the term in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing ♦ Volume 29, Number 1, 2013


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Rhetor, see Triche & McKnight, 2005. For a full discussion of Ramus’s work and influence, see Triche & McKnight, 2005. 5 For an example of a non-Puritan’s use of Ramism, see William Kemp’s (1588/1966), The Education of Children in Learning (London: Thomas Orwin for John Porter and Thomas Gubbin), in Four Tudor Books on Education. Introduction by Robert D. Pepper (Gainesville, FL: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints). In his introduction, Pepper, xviii, reports that, although he was an adherent to Ramism, Kemp remained a orthodox Anglican. Pepper, xxvii, further reports that Kemp’s work was influenced by Harvey, who may have been one of Kemp’s tutors while at Cambridge. 6 In the original Latin version, Harvey uses the term “disciplina.” McReynolds translates this term at “training,” but I prefer the translation of “instruction.” 4

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Collected Essays by Dwayne E. Huebner. Edited by Vikki Hillis. Collected and introduced by William F. Pinar. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Kliebard, H. M. (2004). The Struggle for the American Curriculum 1893-1958. 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge. Levin, J. M. (1987). Humanism and History: Origins of Modern English Historiography. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Ong, W., S.J., (1958). Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pinar, W. F. and Grumet, M. R. (1988). The Socratic caesura and the theory-practice relationship. Contemporary Curriculum Discourses, Edited by William F. Pinar. Scottsdale, AZ: Gorsuch Scarisbrick, Publishers. Pinar, W., Reynolds, W. M., Slattery, P. & Taubman, P. M. (1995). Understanding Curriculum: An Introduction to the Study of Historical and Contemporary Discourses. New York: Peter Lang. Stern, V. F. (1979). Gabriel Harvey: His Life, Marginalia, and Library. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Triche, S. & McKnight, D. (2005). Quests for method: The legacy of Peter Ramus. History of Education. 33 (1), 39–54. Whitehead, A. N. (1929/1967). The aims of education. The Aims of Education New York: The Free Press. Whitehead, A. N. (1929/1967). The rhythm of education. The Aims of Education New York: The Free Press. !

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