The Tyler Rationale

Curriculum theory has never been a subject topic I felt that I could relate to or to be quite honest understand.  After looking through the article “Curriculum Theory and Practice” by Mark Smith we come to understand all the different approaches and theories of curriculum. Mainly we will be focusing on the product side of curriculum which deals with the Tyler rationale. For me personally I have experienced this type of curriculum reasoning many times in my life. Math was never my strong suit or something I enjoyed. I remember once when in Math class a teacher decided to go over all the key indicators of a certain outcome and basically explained to us that in order to pass this outcome and pass the class we had to understand all the indicators and know how to do them.In addition to this every class she would start with “today we are going to be learning” and would fill it in with an indicator. This ultimately made me feel overwhelmed and scared that I wouldn’t pass the class. Now looking at these indicators as a future teacher I can understand how these indicators can be both beneficial and have limitations to students learning. With every rationale comes some limitations. Since in this theory it is mainly to do with the product, students are told “what they must learn and how they will do it” therefore giving the learner little room to experiment. In addition to this the “success and failure of both the programme and the individual learners is judged on the basis of whether pre-specified changes occur in the behaviour and person of the learner.” These pre-specified goals “may lead educators to overlook learning” and ignore the true purpose of learning.  Ultimately, making these “long list of competencies that feel like a shopping list and “when all the items are ticked, the person has passed the course or has learnt something.” Although this rationale has quite a few negatives there are also potential benefits such as “the attraction of this way of approaching curriculum theory and practice is that it is systematic and has considerable organizing power” since each outcome is laid out with numerous indicators that clearly state what must be achieved. As well, the “apparent simplicity and rationality of this approach to curriculum theory and practice, and the way in which it mimics industrial management have been powerful factors in its success.” In conclusion there is many things we can learn from both the limitations and positives of the Tyler Rationale and I look forward to seeing how this continues to apply in my future as a teacher.

One thought on “The Tyler Rationale

  1. Thanks for sharing Ireland! I totally agree with you how math really fits this rationale as the math teachers are usually only worried about the product and that you can complete the outcomes that is in the curriculum document. However, even in math, it should mean more than that. Math teachers should care about the process part and how you came up with your answer and what you learned throughout the class. I had a really good math teacher in high school and I loved when we got marks for our work, even if we did not get the answer even completely right! On the other hand, I also had a teacher who had multiple choice math tests so we had no opportunity to show our learning and our work and he only cared if we chose the correct letter. So in math, I do agree with you that especially in math the Tyler rationale as limitations!


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