Choosing the best alternative: The branching pathways of consequences in social studies curriculum choice-making

Joey Persinger, Vicki Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Through this exploration of subject matter knowledge and teacher knowledge, we present two stories of teaching social studies in the sixth grade. Using a narrative inquiry approach, we share the complexities and complications of teaching children content within standards related to world history and religions. We call on the writings of Schwab to consider these experiences. Using Schwab's concepts of deliberation, the balanced negotiation between the commonplaces of curriculum in a meaning-making process, first, exposes tensions and the teacher's acts of negotiating between the learners' needs and the subject matter (the standards). The teacher stretches to meet the requirements of the standards in different ways that take care of herself and her students. Schwab's commonplaces are used in a more straightforward exploration of the second story. The interplay between the commonplaces is less nuanced and less deeply understood, coalescing in tensions between the commonplaces. The stories and our analyses illustrate Schwab's assertion that there is no right alternative. Daily, and moment-to-moment, teachers are in the position of deliberating making the best choice of many alternatives. "Ramifying consequences must be traced to all parts of the curriculum" (Schwab, 1978, p. 319). Schwab, we find, counsels that the consequences of a chosen action must be considered by all those who must live with those consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages18
JournalAdvances in Research on Teaching
StatePublished - 2017


  • Curriculum commonplaces
  • Deliberation
  • Elementary school contexts
  • Narrative inquiry
  • Social studies education
  • Teacher knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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