The Curriculum in Praxis: How Purpose of School is Actualized in Vietnam, Mexico, and the USA

  • Sonja Varbelow
  • Donna Gee
Part of the Intercultural Studies in Education book series (ISE)


What is the purpose of school, and what role does culture play in how purpose is actualized? How this question is approached derives from a culture’s beliefs about life purpose, and those beliefs are nowhere better reflected than in the way a country passes civilization from one generation to the next through its education system. A country’s curriculum reflects how society thinks about what knowledge is of most worth, and its implementation indicates how this question is decided, which, ultimately, reflects cultural, philosophical, and political ideas about life purpose (Huebner, Poetry and power: The politics of curricular development. In: Hillis V (ed) The lure of the transcendent: collected essays by Dwayne E. Huebner. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, p 231–240, 1975/1999; Kincheloe, Critical pedagogy, 2nd edn. Peter Lang Publishing, New York, 2008). This chapter explores the role educational experiences in Vietnam, Mexico, and the USA play in how people create life purpose. It examines how each country defines and actualizes purpose of school. The theoretical framework for this study is narrativity, which is based on the idea that people think about their life’s experiences in terms of stories. These stories are synthesized not in chronological order but based on the significance a person assigns to them. The data analysis framework is narrative inquiry, which is situated in the qualitative research paradigm. This methodology allows us to think about social phenomena concretely and in depth (Polkinghorne 1995). Purposeful participant selection was employed to choose two participants from each country (Glesne, Becoming qualitative researchers: an introduction, 4th edn. Pearson, Boston, 2011). Data was collected through interviews, electronic email, and through current documents. The findings point to how curriculum reflects cultural and political beliefs about life purpose, the way in which an economically powerful country like the USA influences these beliefs, and how each country uses its education system as an instrument for further evolving truths. These findings allow educators to think about curriculum and the purpose of school with an epistemological lens that illuminates how educational experiences and the contextual factors in which they occur influence a person’s beliefs about life purpose.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Varbelow
    • 1
  • Donna Gee
    • 1
  1. 1.Angelo State UniversitySan AngeloUSA

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