The Tyler Rationale

Tyler’s Rationale is as follows:

1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?

2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?

3. How can educational experiences be effectively organized?

4. How can we determine whether these  purposes are being attained? (Tyler, 1949, p.1).

The first thing that comes to my head when I read this is the recent change to the math curriculum, where they split up “Workplace and Apprenticeship” math from “Foundations of Mathematics.” The Workplace and Apprenticeship textbook focuses on math that would be used in the trades. This is the curriculum deciding on a purpose that it wants to attain. It wants to prepare students who are seeking to join the trades after high school to be better prepared with the proper mathematics pertaining to their career, by providing them with a textbook that focuses on exactly that. The separation is how it is organized, and testing is most likely how to check if these purposes have been attained. If students meet the appropriate outcomes, we will know that it succeeded.

The greatest limitation of the Tyler Rationale is that it does not acknowledge individuality. Sure, a school may seek to attain to one purpose, but how do we incorporate teachers and students into that message? This rationale is very straightforward, like a factory production line powered by its own efficiency. It does not take into consideration the beauty of what makes us human, and instead focuses on pumping the most productive members of society that most likely subscribe to what the economy currently needs. Now, this is not necessarily only a bad thing. We do need certain people to fulfill certain jobs. This does not have to mean that we cut out creativity, which Tyler’s Rationale seems to do.

The greatest benefit of this rationale is its efficiency. It sets a goal, asks educators how to obtain that goal, and ensures that these steps are taken so that the goal is achieved. Very simple, and proven to work. It is just sad that it can drain creativity and flexibility from our school systems.


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