chapter  6
Phonics Programs and Curriculum
Pages 14

I’ll define curriculum simply. Let’s call it what children experience in

school. In the case of the phonics program, the curriculum came from pub-

lishers who made a sale to the district. Those publishers provided inservice

programs for the teachers, produced materials, and delivered those materi-

als to the children via the teacher. The curriculum came from far away. It

came from a publisher that made generalizations about how the children in

Karen’s classroom should spend their time. The publisher’s view of cur-

riculum is one that views the child as empty, the curriculum as the stuff of

what must be put into the child, and the teacher as the conduit that delivers

the material from the publisher to the child. It is a view of curriculum that

circumvents teacher thinking, child thinking, and unique classroom expe-


Dewey (1938) discussed curriculum as something that needs to develop

locally, even as locally as the classroom, so that teachers and students have


Dewey’s view of curriculum is not available to Karen or her students

when a view of curriculum is adopted within a mandated program. They

were subjected to a curriculum that was put in place in response to a manu-

factured crisis (Berliner & Biddle, 1995) at the national, state, and local

levels. In Karen’s situation, the “plan” could have been “cooperative.” In

the past, it was. The plan could have included the “social intelligence”

about reading with which Karen’s children arrive at school. In the past, it