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  • Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm

    [09.29.06]
    - Stephen Schafer
  •  Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm 

    "As we enter the new century, society's agreement on what defines an educated person, what constitutes essential knowledge and common discourse, has essentially collapsed.  As a result, universities in the United States have a problem in the area of curriculum that has been widely recognized.  Curriculum means, literally, a running track, but, in recent years, it has been called ‘a cafeteria with little indication of which are the entrees and which the desserts' and ‘Dante's definition of hell, where nothing connects with nothing,'" (Rhodes, 2001).

    An authentic educational curriculum for an incipient millennium must be viewed from the standpoint of a thoroughgoing paradigm shift-from way outside the box.  This essay is a perspective on the nature of the paradigm shift, the design requirements of a curriculum sufficient to address this mind-bending alteration in our perception of reality, and the place of serious games in the new educational paradigm.  It is a recommendation for curriculum design based on a complete reevaluation of the means, methods, and objectives of new-millennium education.   In the United States, the last two decades have witnessed the beginnings of a failure to reform its secondary educational system. At prodigious cost, the process of implementing the findings of this effort has, by now, reached every school district in the country.  But as designed, the reform effort will do little good because it does not even begin to address the scope of the problem.

    Lifetimes ago, due primarily to advances in transportation and communication, some observers of Western culture began noticing the unprecedented rate of cultural change.  The atomic bomb marked a quantum leap in the rate of change, but its imprint on the world is old news.  However, the significance of the media age is still obscure to most people.  They revel in its gadgetry, but are blissfully unaware of its psychological, sociological, ecological impact.  The most recent developments in the cataclysmic eruption of the media age have been the personal computer and the establishment of the World Wide Web.  In an unbelievably short span of time, this technology has completely altered human reality.  This unprecedented rate of change has become the primary challenge of our time.  

    "It has become a common observation that change is the keynote of the recent past...much less common, but possibly more important, is the observation that the nature of change currently in process may in retrospect well prove to have been more fundamental and far reaching for the majority of mankind than has been experienced for centuries or even millennia," (Markley, 1972).

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