Tyler Rationale Limitations & Benefits

I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and I never realized it, but I have experienced the Tyler rationale and continue to pick up on small pieces of it when I teach in my hometown. Throughout my elementary and high school years, some teachers had strictly organized day plans resulting in certain goals to be achieved. Other teachers allowed for questions, comments, and discussions to further our learning. Looking back on it, I had a couple teachers that followed the Tyler rationale and would either be speechless if we got ‘off track’ or would direct our attention back to the board so we would finish what was planned for the day. Being able to adjust and add on to the lessons is a better way for children to expand their knowledge and for teachers to make learning more fun!

Starting in elementary school, phonics and skills are example classes of where the theory started. Getting into high school, math, chemistry, and accounting also fits into this theory where there is only ONE correct answer. English, on the other hand, allows for students to explore, be creative, have slightly different answers and still be rewarded for their responses. All throughout school, we would learn a chunk of new knowledge and then be tested on the information and see if we succeeded in the learning objectives that the teacher had for us.

The Tyler Rationale creates major limitations for students and teachers such as putting restrictions on thinking outside the box, forcing behaviors upon students, and creating worrisome feelings when getting ‘off track’. When students are told what they must learn, then their minds are directly thinking about those objectives. Students should have the ability to think above and beyond the topics being taught. Tyler (1949) states that “They can end up with little or no voice. They are told what they must learn and how they will do it.” This limits the students’ knowledge and their potential to ask questions and become involved learners. Along with limiting students, the Tyler rationale focuses on the proper way students need to behave and the process on how to change the behavior of people. In class, it was mentioned that creating those boundaries, and having all people behave the same, results in personalities being erased and limitations being formed. Lastly, this causes more stress on teachers because trying to plan how much time for each lesson and learning objectives for every single class is impossible. Tyler (1949) also mentions “that teachers enter the classroom or any other formal educational setting with a more fully worked-through idea of what is about to happen,” but how do you know what will happen every minute of everyday? Having a guideline for the day is way more beneficial than having a full lesson plan that doesn’t allow any spare time for questions or concerns. Allowing discussions and questions can further educate the teacher and students.

Along with the cons, the Tyler rationale can have some benefits such as a clear set of outcomes, goals and end results or evaluations. Having a clear set of outcomes and goals can have an impact on the end result. Students will further know what they are earning and be aware of what they will be tested on. It is important that the teacher doesn’t limit the class and allows for small off-topic discussions. For all ages, I believe it is hard to stay on task every minute of every day, so unplanned learning can benefit all learners. And finally, the end tests can help the teacher evaluate where the students are in regard to each class. Although I do not always agree that paper testing is the most beneficial way to evaluate students, being organized can benefit the end results!

Tyler Rationale Link: Smith2000 CurriculumTheoryPractice.pdf

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