Context and Curriculum

For 20th century purposes, de-contextualized curriculum created independent from students’ interests and experiences that has been stripped of complicating factors and designed to create products and performances for teachers alone may have been sufficient. Advocates of flat classrooms are among those who argued that more complex and sophisticated problems were appropriate for student tasks, especially in those communities where understanding and not simply information recall was the purpose of education. Mehlenbacher (2010) observed, “Over time, our definition of [learner] tasks has generally grown more realistic, meaning we have generally acknowledged that tasks cannot be easily algorithmized or parameterized” (233). Student tasks in the future are anticipated to be context-rich. By retaining the complexities of problems that become the focus of curriculum and instruction, it is reasoned learners will develop the innovative thinking that is of particular importance in the unpredictable future.


Mehlenbacher, Brad. 2010. Instruction and Technology: Designs for Everyday Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.