Monday Aphorism: The Curriculum

The universe of available knowledge become too vast for the comprehension of the most knowing. It began to fill books of its own description: an outline of knowledge, descriptions of courses of study, the disappearance of the knowers replaced the books which informed – placed into the memories of magnetic devices, gathered into some sense of an entity which was the curriculum.

The curriculum, like the largest factories making all the material goods in the world, full of descriptions and outlines translated into machines and work and raw materials shaped into things which were humanly interfaceable, user-friendly, so the humanoids-formerly-humans could find their cousins in the buttons and visages, press and be impressed, the boundary between things and us altered finally into a topography of them and us. They became us, we became them: interchangable, replaceable, re-toolable, relocatable…

We did not notice that the search for community was solved until we constructed a certain circuit, a cog which missed itself, gradually discovering that it worried that it did not exist…any longer, any shorter, at all.

  • Miriam Kniaz

    Hi Harvey. This is Miriam from your Cultural Pluralism class. I just thought I would stop by and see your site. It seems great and a good insight into who you are. See you in class.

    – Miriam

  • Harvey Sarles

    Thank you, Miriam.

  • Karl Rogers

    Arguably, the curriculum is the selective mechanism by which human beings — as children — can be prepared and sorted in accordance with the needs of the societal project to construct a technological society as a replacement for the capricious and threatening complex, changing, and open-ended world that does not conform to our intentions. It finds its origin in the human fear and existential dread of the natural world, which transcends us and is beyond our control, but has become bound-up with the modern desire to create a substitute, artificial world that is knowable, predictable, and affords us limitless power. (Cf. my book entitled Modern Science and the Capriciousness of Nature.)

    Of course in our “modern” society, the curriculum is the product of centralised institutions that are directed to cater to the needs of the corporate-state and the economic elite it serves.

    The democratisation of knowledge and access to technological innovation — themselves conditions for the democratic participation into the development of the technological society — both require the (Jeffersonian) democratisation, decentralisation of education and research: the pluralisation of the curriculum, in accordance with pluralistic and diverse values and visions of the future of society, combined with collective funding and public ownership of knowledge and technological innovation, through a decentralised and locally accountable network of universities and public research centers. (Cf. my book Participatory Democracy, Science & Technology).

    The questions of the development of the curriculum, how to envision the future, the purpose of education, and who owns the world? are all intimately and inextricably related.

  • Ivan Brugere

    Hi Harvey,

    I’ve heard wonderful things about your recent teaching. I’ll be the first to say that your course really changed me, intellectually and personally (if one likes to manage these categories). I am back on campus. My roommate was really impressed with your graduate seminar. I hope she follows up with you, I think the department desperately needs people outside of the conventional paper-milling and competition that, I suppose turn out good graduate students of a sort, at some more fundamental personal expense, perhaps.

    I really like this on the curriculum. Asking the real question, or shifting one’s gaze just slightly, these are the real challenges… and anyway, it’s not often advantageous to publication.

    Where do I plug in? Where do I find my space (place?) Isn’t this to ask, where am I wanted? allowed? demanded? … But yet, all I’ve known is ask where to go. Who answers, anyway?

    Harvey, are you teaching a class next semester? I’d really like to sit in on it!

  • (1st Karl) – the question of the curriculum, of claims to the education of and toward the future, needs to become more public – discussed by all of those who note that the world is changing rapidly. The very nature of work, of who we will be and do is (as you say so well) intricately bound with or envisioning of the future, the purpose of the future…

    Yes. Toward more conversations, and thank you for reading much of my works.

    (2nd Ivan) – thank you Ivan. No, I’m not teaching next semester, but will be next fall. You’re welcome to sit-in on any of my classes. I’ll be teaching half a year (each Fall) for the next 5 years. Busy seeking out next career(s) – maybe returning to do “fieldwork” as the anthropologist I still tell myself I am.

    I will be posting a great deal of new work on this site quite soon – including my book, “Teaching as Dialogue” – which may be interesting, even useful as you continue to “move-on.”


  • Karl Rogers


    I am enjoying reading your work very much. It is always interesting and challenging. Raises very important questions. I also look forward to many more conversations with you.

    I also agree that there needs to be more public debate into the future and purpose of education.

    It seems to me that a necessary condition for the existence of a genuinely public education is that the public participate in shaping it.