Reconceptualizing High School: Curriculum, Film, and Narrative Assemblies

  • Nicholas Ng-A-Fook
  • Kathryn Robayo Sheridan
  • Steve Noble


During the late 1960s, a group of American curricularists and documentary filmmakers, notably Dwayne Huebner and Frederick Wiseman, worked to provoke the educational and political issues of their time. In turn, these public intellectuals sought to disrupt, among other things, the institutional borders and everyday realities of racialized segregation, infringements against individual rights, economic exploitation and gendered inequities within the institutions of schooling. The educational questions these filmmakers and curriculum theorists posed more than four decades ago continue to speak to things that matter. Many of these curricularists, like Maxine Greene, Michael Apple, Dwayne Huebner, and William F. Pinar to name a few provoked us to question why some administrators, teachers and students (including the authors of this writing) remain couched in our own indifference and accede ourselves to the political, silent extensions of bureaucratic and technocratic discursive arms.

Are younger generations of politicians, curriculum scholars, principals, teachers and students taking account of our mediated consumption of things that matter? Are we questioning the underpinning causes and multiple literacies of our current environmental crisis, the ongoing racialized, homophobic, physical, psychical, misogynistic, exploitative and epistemic violence taking place inside and outside schools? Or, are we repeating the political and curricular bandwagon songs of the past? Are Iraq and Afghanistan, once again, yet another symbolic curricular recapitulation of Vietnam? Are schools designed to lead, inform and provoke society? Or, are schools merely created to reflect contemporary society’s beliefs, obsessions, preoccupations and frailties? Further, does curriculum mirror school’s focus or does curriculum work in opposition to what schools set out to achieve? In response to such pro/vocations we attempt to bridge a complicated conversation between two historical texts hoping, in turn, to relocate and re-enter the present temporal borders of our current lives beyond…. superficial curricular sighs.