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“Ideology and Curriculum” by Michael Apple

In the modern world education is of crucial importance for life and career of any person. Those who provide people with education bear enormous responsibility for they have a direct influence on people’s future. Michael W. Apple’s book “Ideology and Curriculum” deals with a number of issues connected with education and aims to find out the ways which would make the school curriculum more beneficial for the learners. The book evaluates the relationship of education to cultural, economic, and political power since educational institutions “and the manner in which they are organized and controlled are integrally related to the ways in which specific people get access to economic and cultural resources and power.” (Apple, 2004) Having certain power over the educational institutions, the state should aim at making the education more effective not only by introducing systematic changes into curriculum but by conducting educational evaluation and research on the ways which may improve the curriculum. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 of the book “Ideology and Curriculum” by Michael Apple deal with systems management and behavioral objectives as approaches which, by means of oriented educational evaluation performed by experts, fit into scientific curriculum work and improve the quality of education; science, at this, plays one of the most important roles since it defines the quality of the scientific product.

Systems management and behavioral objectives help to study the learners’ behaviors and design educational activities in terms of these behaviors. They allow observing certain behavioral patterns and then, on the basis of these patterns, introducing correspondent changes into curriculum. Behavioral objectives serve to reach a certain goal which would correspond to the primary goal of an objective; their task is to lead to a definite closure and to ensure that the outcome of the whole procedure can be reliable. A number of studies have been devoted to specifying the operational boundaries of institutional interaction being motivated “by a need of closure and, especially, surety.” (Apple, 2004) Thus, for instance, the behavioral objectives movement “in both its weak and strong senses, has sought to reduce student action to specifiable forms of overt behavior so that the educator can have certitude of outcome.” (Apple, 2004) Therefore, the main interest of systems management procedures lies in maintaining this certainty and technical control.

According to the system management, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the system consists in defining whether the purpose of the system corresponds to its existing output or contradicts to it. From this it may be concluded that if the quality of the output (in case with education, the output is the educated people) is not in conformity with the desirable purpose, then there exist certain flaws in the system management procedures. This inevitably involves flaws in the existing curriculum; if the curriculum is inefficient, this means that the students either get insufficient amount of knowledge, or absorb the study material without being able to reproduce it. This is also a flaw of the curriculum according to which the students have to absorb knowledge they cannot apply, while instead they could obtain knowledge which would be of use to them. Failure of the systems management procedures to maintain the certitude of the outcome means that an incorrect approach has been initially chosen, which also testifies to the fact that behavioral objectives were not properly identified. System management and behavioral objectives perform the roles of giving “adequate definitions of situations and serving the interests of those who already possess economic and cultural capital today … they are linked to other aspects of our conceptual apparatus to form a larger taken for granted perspective that dominates education.” (Apple, 2004) Science belongs to one of these aspects because the engagement into systems approaches is, as a rule, connected with the desire to obtain scientific analysis.

It is sometimes hard to identify the ideological place of science in the curriculum. One thing that can be asserted for sure is that this place should be occupied by it, since it is only by means of scientific decisions that effective and rational changes may be introduced into the curriculum. Science helps to clearly define and explicate educational objectives taking into account all forces and strengths of the existing curriculum; at this, “those who discourage educators from precisely explicating their instructional objectives are often permitting, if not promoting, the same kind of unclear thinking that has led in part to the generally abysmal quality of instruction” (Apple, 2004) which can be observed these days. Science makes it possible to evaluate all existing approaches to introduction of necessary changes into the curriculum and choose the most appropriate one. Apple keeps to an idea that “often unequal and problematic activities and consequences of schooling will not be fundamentally altered until we cease searching for simple solutions to our problems” (Apple, 2004); scientific analysis will help in arriving to a more complicated solution which will solve currently existing problem in education.

Science is also necessary when it comes to the application of systems strategies. Though Apple states that their application is based on the examination of scientific products, rather than on the “accurate view of scientific process” (Apple, 2004), it still seems that due carrying out of scientific processes is more important for it directly influences the result. Applying a scientific strategy takes much more than a wish to obtain desirable results; it is rather a strategic planning of how the scientific processes will be carried out. Namely the accuracy of viewing the scientific processes defines the quality of the final scientific product (or result).

In sum, introducing changes into curriculum involves a number of procedures and activities which should be taken as a whole in order to achieve desirable results. The issues raised in the book “Ideology and Curriculum”, such as systems management, behavioral objectives, and the place of science in curriculum, show that changing the curriculum is not an easy task. It requires far more than a mere desire to improve it; it entails a number of systems management procedures the task of which is to evaluate learning behaviors of students and to compare the initial objectives with the outcomes. If the outcomes contradict to the objectives, the flaws in the system management procedures should be eliminated. Science assists greatly in carrying out of the systems management procedures because it allows making complicated solutions which are able to quickly lead to the desirable results; science also helps in the application of systems strategies allowing to accurately carry out the scientific processes resulting in high quality of the final scientific product. Therefore, systems management, behavioral objectives, and science should be always taken into consideration when introducing changes into curriculum.


Apple, Michael W. (2004). Ideology and Curriculum (3rd ed.). New York: RoutledgeFalmer.


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