Educational historians sometimes use the metaphor of the ‘swinging of the pendulum’ to explain how educational approaches that are in vogue at one time sometimes take a 180 degree turn - due to the influence of social change, changes in governments, educational research, and/or other forces - reversing course and going in the opposite direction.
The most often cited example of this relates to how the 3 R’s (i.e., reading, writing, and arithmetic (math)) are taught in schools. Another example, cited in the above excerpt, relates to the curriculum of schools - I.e., whether high school students should only have access to a small group of required core courses or a wide selection of optional elective courses.
It has not been unusual in the history of Ontario (and other jurisdictions) for a change in provincial governments - switching between Conservative, Liberal, and/or New Democratic control - to usher in significant changes to educational priorities, at times moving away from or even reversing the educational priorities of the previous government.
Here are a few examples of the ‘swinging of the pendulum’ metaphor in education:
- emphasis on core courses < --- > wide choice of elective courses
- rote learning and memorization < --- > hands-on experiential learning
- standardized 'paper and pencil' tests < --- > holistic 'task-based' assessment
In preparation for your seminar this week, write out an answer to the following question. Your TA may call on you to share your answer in the seminar: