In the July 2010 issue of the Journal for the Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (Vol. 6), Appelbaum proposes a new form of curriculum theorizing, “retrodictive curriculum reform,” as a response to the “endless cycles of fads and policies.”
In retrodictive reform, educators imagine a future for schooling and then work backwards to write a possible history for how society managed to make the imagined future happen. In the process they create a roadmap for how to implement long-term reform in the context of short-term crises and deadlines.
“Retrodictive history is an exciting challenge. It’s about time that curriculum studies developed the skills of this craft, because it seems we will otherwise be caught in the never-ending quagmire of hopelessness: our dreams are never realized because we don’t yet have the history of their realization.”
Appelbaum’s essay invokes artists’ uses of models as utopian playgrounds for imagining new forms of curriculum, referring to sculptors Josiah McElheny and Isamu Noguchi.
“Instead of a monolithic vision imposed upon its audience, we might use … retrodictive history as a different sort of proposal, as an invitation to imagine new worlds … within which the jungle gym of educational reform is transformed into an enormous basket that encourages the most complex ascents and all but obviates falls. In other words, our playground, instead of telling us what to do (swing here, climb there), becomes a place for endless exploration, of endless opportunity for changing play. And it is a thing of beauty, in a scholarly spirit analogous to admirers of Noguchi’s work.” Read the whole of Appelbaum’s essay.