ECS 210

Curriculum Theory & Practice: The Tyler Rationale

The theory set out by Ralph Tyler pertaining to curriculum theory and practice is one that many members of the education community are far too familiar with. Following along the lines of the input-output methods of education, Tyler’s theory poses a seemingly “foolproof” approach to education where there are simply the primary goals of education, specific ways to organize and attain those goals, and then a means of evaluation or assessment, which is normally quantitative.

As much as educators try to shy away from Tyler’s rationale, even in today’s education system it is still being utilized, whether or not the education community wishes to acknowledge it. I have been subjected to the Tyler rationale many times in my schooling experience and will admit that I have most likely implemented it myself in my early practicums. It’s worthy to note that most of my experience with the Tyler rationale happened when I began my time as a university student. There were few instances during my time in high school that I can recall where I could easily recognize Tyler’s theory being implemented. Instead it seems, university courses and educators are more inclined to approach their teaching using this “one-size fits all” method. There were several classes in my first year of university where the objectives of the course were set out in the beginning and the rest of the semester was mindless lecture giving us the “necessary” information needed to pass the final exam and the course itself. While this theory of Tyler’s seems to have the answer to all of your educational problems, there are many issues that appear as a result.

I personally feel the limitations that accompany Tyler’s theory largely outweigh any positives. As I mentioned above, his theory revolved around a “one-size fits all” concept, in many different aspects. First, and arguably the most important, this theory pays no attention to student-oriented concerns such as differentiation and inclusion. It has the assumption that every student is capable in that moment, without regards to prior knowledge or specific needs. It blankets the students individual needs to make it simpler for the teacher. Second, the theory pays very little, if any, attention to the context in which it is being implemented. Where in the world is it being used? What subject is it being applied to? These matter to the effectiveness of such a method, yet it sets them aside for the sake of simplicity.

In terms of the positives of Tyler’s theory, it seems rather difficult to call on any. One could argue that the four fundamental questions posed by Tyler simplify the complex labyrinth that is curriculum. It sets out the clear standards and expectations of the learners making it easy to navigate ones way to the end goal. However, beyond that, our modified, modern view of education I feel stops us from voluntarily finding positives in such a rationale, even though we are likely to use it at least once ourselves in the very near future due to its simplicity.


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