The Tyler Rationale: Out With the Old, In With the New

4516022777_92af78df46                                                                                         Cavalier92 via Compfight cc

The traditionalist model of teaching is one that is perceived by many as a “common sense” approach to education. However, as I talked about last week, issues arise with these kinds of “obvious” solutions because then people never stop to think: Is this still  working? Indeed, while the traditionalist model of teaching may have worked wonders decades ago, kids now live in a different society and teachers therefore need to consider the variety of students’ needs when thinking about lesson plans and assessment.

The Tyler Rationale is one that is built out of a traditionalist approach. It is as follows :

  1. Determine the school’s purposes
  2. Identify educational experiences related to purpose
  3. Organize the experiences
  4. Evaluate the purposes

When we went over Tyler’s Rationale in class, my first thought was, “If only it could be that simple!” Indeed, the allure, I think, to this kind of approach – perhaps explaining its popularity when it was introduced – is simplicity; follow these steps and you will have a school where all the kids will learn! And while I think the Tyler Rationale does have its merits as a starting point for teaching – it can be helpful when thinking broadly about lesson plans, determining what kind of teacher you want to be and determining how you want to organize your units, providing a good educational experience is not as black as white as this rationale may suggest.

When I was in school, a structure similar to The Tyler Rationale was used. I am the kind of student who is well suited for a traditionalist approach to education – I like memorizing and my skills are in language and writing – but many of my peers struggled because the teacher had such a concrete perspective on what knowledge and assessment was. Instead of the teacher observing the class and catering his/her lesson plans to fit students’ learning styles, it was the opposite: the students had to meld to the teacher’s way of learning. This, unsurprisingly, had negative consequences as the students started to resent the teacher and I doubt that they ever got anything meaningful out of the classes.

When I was in high school, I did not realize that this was the wrong way to teach; I grew up in a small town so I thought that memorizing facts and spitting them back out on exams was a good marker of knowledge. Perhaps more startling than this was that I thought that those students who were struggling in class weren’t trying hard enough; “if you actually sat down and read the material, you would be getting good grades,” I thought to myself. It was not until I came to university that I realized how inaccurate this was. Yet, that’s the way I was taught; that was the way that someone else’s “common sense” transferred as my own.

Education is a field that should always be changing; as society changes, education needs to change. Being stuck in one teaching methodology is counterproductive as if we, as teachers, fail to constantly challenge our teaching approaches, we will not be able to give students the education they deserve. The truth in schools today is that every student learns differently and that every students has different ways of showing knowledge; while it is true that teachers may not always be able to cater to these different needs, it is important that we still understand them so that, next time, we can give options of how a student could complete an assignment or the kind of activities we do during a lesson plan. Education today is all about acknowledging the diversity of one’s classroom and therefore trying one’s best to accommodate to these different needs; indeed, by doing so, the students are far more likely to learn and the teachers are far more likely to cultivate students’ success.


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