The nature of home economics curriculum in secondary schools Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7d278w70p

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  • As with other areas of the curriculum home economics tends to respond to the objectives of powerful interest groups rather than to the work of recognized scholars and the ideals of democracy. The philosophical orientation of this study is derived from the work of Jurgen Habermas, a dominant figure in contemporary philosophy whose social theory is acknowledged for its depth and breadth of perspective. Major concerns of Habermas are the spread of instrumental reason and the growth of bureaucracy throughout the western world, and the detrimental effect of these on humankind. The resulting depoliticization has meant that political issues once discussed by a "reasoning public" are now treated as technical problems to be resolved by the most "efficient" means. Habermas' work is therefore oriented toward the enhancement of self-understanding of social groups capable of bringing about social change, or toward the self-emancipation of humankind from domination. Habermas' social analysis is supported by critics of the dominant rationality in American society. The influence of the "American ideology" on education is a cause of concern. The study embodies critique of three models of home economics curriculum in relation to three modes of rationality which are derived from three sciences: technical rationality (empirical-analytic science), hermeneutic rationality (historical-hermeneutic science), and emancipatory rationality (critical science). The critique reveals that underlying each curriculum model are certain assumptions linked to interests which define how reality is viewed; and that each model has different implications for the learner, society, and the world of knowledge. For example, curriculum based on emancipatory rationality views the learner as one who, although vulnerable to ideologically distorted beliefs, is capable of self-reflection for self-understanding, and critical examination of the historical development of social contexts militating against human autonomy, and who through enlightenment, will participate in collective action to eliminate those contexts. The analysis highlights the need for curriculum decisions to be based on sound theory. It also reveals the need for a critical theory of home economics education, and identifies a set of questions to be addressed in developing such a theory.
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