16 April, 2014

Curriculum Theory Synopsis: Constructivist Curriculum Theory

Constructivist Curriculum Theory

The constructivist theory became predominantly prevalent within curriculum and instruction that was implemented in the early 1990’s (Gredler, 2009). In what seemed to be a resurgence of the application of the progressive theory that included a heavy focus on the development of the individual and the construction of knowledge through experience and discovery (Parkay, Anctil, & Hass, 2010), the constructivist curriculum theory shares many of the same proponents of the experiential approach including, Piaget, Vygotsky, Dewey, Glaserfeld, and Bruner.

The constructivist curriculum theory views learning and knowledge as an organization of ones own experiences that occurs in the mind of the individual. The individual’s experience can be influenced either by personal conflict and reflection or by the influence of a common society that interacts together through shared relations (Gredler, 2009). The teacher in this model is charged with facilitating learning for students through methods that include structured prompts and questioning as applied in such curriculums as whole language, literacy-based instruction, directed discovery, and cognitively guided instruction (Harris & Graham, 1994).

Discussion about the current influence that the constructivist curriculum theory has had on curriculum is mixed. Those committed to mounting a resurgence of the theory argue that as of the result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and a back to basics approach to education that constructivism has not had its fair shot (Gibboney, 2006). Others however, continue to provide irrefutable evidence showing that the effects that constructivist based curriculums have had on student academic performance speak loud enough as to the reason why the approach should not be applied within educational institutions (Hattie, 2009).


Gibboney, R. A. (2006, October). Intelligence by Design: Thorndike versus Dewey. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(2), 170-172.

Gredler, M. (2009). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddler River, NJ: Merrill Pearson.

Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (1994). Constructivism: Principles, paradigms, and integration. The Journal of Special Education, 28(3), 233-247.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

Parkay, F. W., Anctil, E. J., & Hass, G. (2010). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs (9th ed.). New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon.

14 February, 2014

National Junior Honor Society: A Message to Students

I was recently invited to speak at the National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony for scholars at Rocky Mount Preparatory located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Having met with parents, guests, and scholars throughout the evening, I was encouraged to post my remarks.

NJHS Induction Ceremony:

Good Evening,

I am both honored and flattered to have been invited to speak for this remarkable occasion.

As I look upon our scholars and guests this evening I recognize that many of you may not yet have had an opportunity to meet me.

My name is Dr. Todd Forgette and as of July of 2013 I joined the Rocky Mount Prep. team as the Chief Academic Officer. Prior to joining Rocky Mount Prep. I have had the opportunity to consult in both the U.S. and U.K. educational systems. I have taught and consulted at every grade level from Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start through 12th grade. I have worked with adults focused on continued learning and adults working toward GED completion. I have served as a professor at Longwood University’s College of Education in Virginia.

While I have had many experiences with scholars and life long learners, an aspect of the learning process that I wish to share with you tonight revolves around choice. In education, in many instances there is a heavy emphasis on curriculum instruction and assessment. What tends to be overlooked at times is individual scholar choice and how the choices that scholars make truly impact their education and their lives. It is this point that I wish to expand upon this evening.

This evening we celebrate the choices and sometimes sacrifices that you have made. This is important because what you should be proud of is not the honor of being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society itself, but the distinct decisions that you have made to earn this honor. Your academic prowess, your compassion to serve others, your aspiration to lead, and the righteousness with which you choose to conduct yourself are the areas in which you have made the choices for which we honor you tonight. You, your parents, and your guests should be most proud of the result of these choices.

Brodi Ashton, the Author of the Everneath series wrote, “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” Your choices and the paths you have chosen indicate that each of you embodies the virtue of a hero.

The Heroic Imagination Project defines heroes as “people who transform compassion into heroic action. In doing so, they put their best selves forward in service to humanity. A hero is an individual or a network of people that take action on behalf of others in need, or in defense of integrity or a moral cause.”  The core of this definition revolves around the priority of taking action. My point in sharing this is to encourage you all to remember that while induction into the National Junior Honor Society solidifies the choices that you have made up to this point - it brings with it a greater responsibility and challenge for you now to continue to take action to exemplify what it means to be a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

As part of the ceremony tonight you will make a pledge that includes the phrases, to maintain..., to endeavor..., to be..., to give..., and to hold... These phrases are commitments to actions. Actions that when engaged in voluntarily, that are conducted in service to others, that involve risk to comfort or social status, and that are initiated without the expectation of recognition - result in heroism. While it would be easier to slide through life without purpose, without challenge, without commitment - it would be neither fulfilling nor heroic. Let tonight be empowering... let yourself be empowered by the opportunity to commit to action, to be a hero.

Induction into to the National Junior Honor Society is an indication that you have achieved exemplary performance in scholarship, service, leadership, and character. In doing so, you have begun to pave a path which when carefully navigated will prepare you for your future. I congratulate you all as you join this prestigious group. You are an inspiration and remember, a hero doesn’t need to be undefeated, but they must remain undaunted in their pursuits (A. Bernstein).

17 April, 2013

Curriculum Theory Synopsis: Experiential Curriculum Theory

Experiential Curriculum Theory

The experiential influence on curriculum in America can be traced back to the 19th century and is most notably associated with proponents that include Rousseau, Dewey, and Evers.  The primary focus of experiential education was to include within the general curriculum an element of individual development that was arguably missing from the more traditional approach that focused specifically on intellectual and social development.  The process to infuse curriculum that included material that addressed individual development proved difficult and ultimately centered on an attempt to include activities and experiences that students showed an elevated interest in (Posner, 2004).

Ives and Obenchain (2006), while conducting research on the effects that experiential education had on higher order thinking in secondary schools, established three critical elements that experiential education-based curriculum should adhere to,
First, learning should include opportunities for student-direction.  Second, learning through EE [Experiential Education] includes curriculum connections to the real world.  Critical reflection is the third essential element of EE and permeates every aspect of an EE program... an internalized inquiry process (p.65).
Richard Gibboney (2006) argued in a reflective article about the influences of Edward Thorndike versus John Dewey on school reform that theory and ideas proposed by John Dewey have been set aside from curriculum in the 20th century.  Ives and Obenchain (2006) mirrored this concern and attributed it to a narrowing of curriculum as lead by the essentialist or back-to-basics movement similarly influenced by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.  Both authors encourage educators to continue to adhere to experiential theory and attempt to influence curricula to encourage better educational experiences for students.


Ives, B., & Obenchaini, K. (2006). Experiential education in the classroom and academic outcomes: For those who want it all. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1), 61-67.

Posner, G. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Gibbony, R. A. (2006, October). Intelligence by Design: Thorndike versus Dewey. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(2), 170-172.