What Curricular Perspectives Can Tell Us About Parent Education Curricula

Ruth Thomas, PhD
Professor, Family Education
Department of Work, Community and Family Education, University of Minnesota

Orapan Footrakoon
Doctoral Candidate, Family Education
Department of Work, Community, and Family Education, University of Minnesota

In this paper a spectrum of curricular perspectives that have been identified within the field of curriculum will be used as lenses through which to view parent education curricula. Reasons for viewing parent education in relation to curricular perspectives include a need for:

The above purposes will be addressed in four sections which include:

Overview of Curriculum Perspectives

Curriculum theory work over recent decades has focused on identifying various perspectives from which curriculum is viewed and the implications of those perspectives for the kind of curriculum that is developed and its implications for learners, educators, institutions and agencies that sponsor educational programs, and society. Several schemes of curricular perspectives have emerged from this work (Eisner & Vallance, 1974; Giroux, Penna, & Pinar, 1981; Miller, 1983; Miller & Seller, 1990). The number of perspectives in these schemes has ranged from about three to eight. Because Miller and Seller's (1990) scheme is the most recent and synthesizes the others into three perspectives, a scope which this paper can reasonably accommodate, it is the basis for this discussion and analysis of parent education curriculum.

Miller and Seller's (1990) scheme of curriculum perspectives contains the Transmission Perspective, the Transaction Perspective, and the Transformation Perspective.

Transmission Perspective

This perspective is characterized as follows:

  • rooted in behaviorism and traditional academic modes of educating.
  • goal is to transmit knowledge, attitudes, or skills from those who are believed to possess them to those believed to lack them.
  • educator or curriculum developer is viewed as possessing the desired skills, knowledge and/or attitudes.
  • learners are seen as lacking and needing the desired skills, knowledge and/or attitudes.
  • curriculum development involves identifying components of needed skills and/or areas of content knowledge and then indicating what the educator is to demonstrate, model, tell, and provide practice opportunities for.
  • assumes knowledge (concepts, attitudes, and skills) is possessed by people and that one person's knowledge can be imparted to another through the above methods until it is eventually replicated in the other.
  • curriculum is organized into units or topics that are often sequential; learners must master one in order to go on to the next.
  • curriculum is evaluated in terms of the degree to which learners have absorbed or mastered the prescribed knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills.

Some curricula that reflect this perspective are referred to as "scientific." Curricula in which a training orientation predominates reflect this perspective.

Miller and Seller compare the three curriculum perspectives they outline in terms of dilemmas about practical issues that educators and curriculum developers face (Berlak & Berlak, 1981). Miller and Sellers' analysis of transmission-oriented curriculum on these dimensions can be found in Table 1. The bolded ends of the dilemmas in Table 1 are those which each of the curricular perspectives reflect or emphasize.

Table 1. Comparison of Transmission, Transaction and Transformation Curricula in Terms of Berlak Dilemmas (adapted from Miller & Sellers, 1990)1

Whole person versus person as learner Whole person and person as learner Whole person versus person as learner
Educator control versus learner control Educator control and learner control (shared control) Educator control versus learner control(as much as possible)
Personal knowledge versus public knowledge Personal knowledge (especially knowledge exploration and verification processes) and public knowledge Personal knowledge and public knowledge (Personal knowledge as a filter through which public knowledge is viewed)
Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process
Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation
Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular (neither; emphasis is on process and frameworks) Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular
Each learner unique versus each learner has shared characteristics Each learner unique and learners have shared characteristics Each learner unique and learners have shared characteristics
Learning is social versus learning is individual Learning is social and learning is individual Learning is social and learning is individual (sometimes these are integrated; sometimes both are present)
Learner as person versus learner as client Learner as person versus learner as client Learner as person versus learner as client

1 Bolded end of each dilemma indicates the side of the dilemma the curriculum perspective emphasizes; both ends bolded indicates either an integration of the opposing orientations or a balance point on a continuum between them.

Transaction Perspective

The transaction curriculum perspective is characterized as follows:

  • rooted in John Dewey's educational philosophy and in developmental theory
  • goal is to promote learners' growth and development and problem solving capacities
  • assumes knowledge is constructed by each learner as he or she interacts with the environment; the unique experiences, understandings, needs, and motivations that each learner brings to their learning influences his or her view of what is appropriate and interesting to learn and what is actually learned.
  • learning is an inquiry process that learners and educator co-direct and co-participate in.
  • the educator's role is to facilitate learners' inquiry in directions the learners' interests reflect.
  • curriculum development involves providing guidance for the educator in creating with learners a rich learning environment in which:
    • a variety of resources stimulate learners' interest and motivation,
    • social interaction contributes to learning-enhancing cognitive conflict, and
    • learners have opportunities to interact with tasks, concepts and principles, or situations of interest to them.
  • curriculum is organized according to broad themes or questions, which are suggested by curriculum developers or generated in learner-educator dialogue.
  • curriculum is evaluated on the basis of broad areas of growth and development observed in the learner (e.g., thinking processes, inquiry processes).

Miller and Seller's analysis of the transaction curriculum perspective in terms of the Berlak dilemmas is presented in Table 1.

Transformation Perspective

The transformation perspective is characterized as follows:

  • roots are in postmodern thought, ecological perspectives, and in social reconstruction curricular perspectives.
  • goals include cultivation of intuition, insight, and community and countering injustice and human suffering through collective social action; because problems are seen in terms of roles, structures, and norms that dominate social interactions, the focus is on changing these roles, structures, and norms rather than on changing a few individuals.
  • knowledge is assumed to be fluid rather than static, interconnected, enriched by multiple perspectives, and to reflect personal meaning.
  • learning relevant to one aspect of life is affected by other aspects of life; curriculum must incorporate consideration of contextual factors relevant in learners' lives.
  • curriculum development must involve learners as central participants in, and directors of, curricular decision making; learners actively participate in understanding and choosing what they will learn instead of being recipients of what someone else has decided they need.
  • educators' respect and compassion for learners is of central importance; in order to facilitate others' learning, educators must be conscious of their own perspectives as well as those of learners.
  • curriculum is organized according to broad themes or questions generated by learners.
  • curriculum is evaluated in terms of direction and nature of change in learners' contexts that has resulted from social action, and in terms of learners' abilities to identify problems and issues and organize themselves to work with others to address them.

Miller and Sellers' analysis of transformation curriculum according to the Berlak dilemmas is presented in Table 1.

Parent Education Curricula Exemplifying Each Perspective

Because space available here does not allow a complete systematic analysis of the range of parent education curricula in terms of the Transmission, Transaction, and Transformation perspectives, examples from that range will serve to illustrate the ways in which parent education curricula reflect these perspectives.

Parent Education Models that Teach Particular Skills, Knowledge, and Attitudes

The aim in these parent education curricula is teaching parents a particular set of skills, a particular way or ways of viewing their child, and/or particular attitudes about themselves, their children and their parent-child relationships. The skills, knowedge and attitudes taught are ones believed to lead to improved parenting or alleviation of problems parents experience in their parenting. A number of these parenting programs were developed by professionals whose background and experience is in therapy. Examples include

Since several of these are already familiar to many people and are widely available in printed materials, I will not take time to described them here. If we look at these models of parent education against the Berlak dilemmas displayed in Table 1, we can notice several things:

These models are concerned with teaching parents certain perspectives or skills (often communication skills) which are identified by therapists as lacking in their clients. The logic is that if parents had these perspectives or skills, their parenting would go better. Several of these approaches teach schemas for interpreting parent-child dialogue or child behavior, or teach parent-child dialogue scripts. Parent education sessions, which involve a group of parents and a facilitator in many of these programs, provide demonstration, modeling, and opportunities for parents to practice and receive feedback on their interpretations and verbal responses. An analysis of these programs in terms of the Berlak dilemmas revealed the following (some variation was apparent on one dimension or another across programs, but in general they reflected the following emphases):

Whole person versus person as learner.

Therapy-based parent education curricula emphasize the parent as learner. The interest is clearly in the parent's communication skills and the parent's perspectives of the child. The interest in these is based on the belief that change in them will change the family system in ways that will improve the parent-child relationship.

Educator control versus learner control.

Although the facilitator is in a coach and guide role, he or she is also directive in telling parents what they need to do to improve (or become more like the model presented). The standard to which parents are to strive is clearly controlled by the educator (although parents themselves decide how close to that standard they want to try to progress). Although different parents may progress at different rates and reach different levels of mastery, the definition of the standard held up as desirable is clearly the educator's domain.

Personal knowledge versus public knowledge.

The view of the child and the kind of communication originates outside the parent. The goal is to infuse this external perspective into the parent--to give the parent therapist-like skills and perspectives. The parents' personal knowledge is relevant only in so far as it deviates from the desired perspective.

Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process.

The goal is replication in the parent of the curriculum developer's or educator's knowledge, skill, and perspective. It should be noted that a significant aspect of these programs is helping parents develop perspectives and skills for observing their children, and, ultimately, a form of communication, which might be considered process. The interpretation frames for what is observed, however, are provided as content.

Intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

Because these programs have been the typical ones prescribed for parents who are referred, nonvoluntarily, to parent education, extrinsic motivation is a factor in participation by many parents in these programs. It is also the case, however, that many parents voluntarily seek out this kind of education because they want to resolve issues they are experiencing in their parenting or to simply enrich their parenting capacities.

Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular.

Although there is variation in the emphasis in these programs on teaching parents specific skills (I messages, active listening, etc.) versus a perspective on their child, both of these emphases leave out the larger social context in which parents live and the influence this context has on their parenting perspectives. The particular skills and/or perspectives being taught are presumed to be the extent of learning needed.

Each learner unique versus each learner has shared characteristics.

These programs identify skills and perspectives needed by parents in general, or by subgroups of parents--e.g., parents with emotionally disturbed children. The assumption is that any parent can benefit from the skills and perspectives that are taught, reflecting the assumption that parents have many similar characteristics.

Learning is social versus learning is individual.

Although the group format is clearly used as a vehicle in this group of parenting programs, the learning itself is assumed to be revealed at the individual level. It is the individual parent who is expected to display the desired perspectives and use the desired scripts. Program evaluations focus on measurement of individuals, not on changes in the parent group processes.

Learner as person versus learner as client.

The learner is clearly viewed in these programs as a client with problems that must be treated. Through the expert diagnosis and treatment that the curriculum guide facilitates, the problems can be alleviated.


The analysis of the therapy-based parent education programs aligns most closely on the Berlak dilemmas with the transmission perspective. This may be surprising, since therapy is thought to have transformative power. Why do therapy-based parent education programs appear to be more transmissive than transformative in their orientation? One possible reason is that in therapy, perspectives and skills are used by the therapist to provide an environment that facilitates the clients' moves toward change. In creating the educational programs, however, these same skills and perspectives are codified for inculcation in the parent. The codification moves them from process to content. They become "things" (knowledge, skills, attitudes) to be possessed. Ultimately, of course, they are intended to provide processes for parents to use. But in the challenge of getting them from the facilitator into the parent, traditional methods of education (with the exception of the small group format) have been the choice.

Parent Education Models Designed to Support Parent Development

Parent education models, such as a constructivist model described by Mancuso & Handin (1983) and a reflective dialogue model described by Thomas (1996) have as their aim supporting parents' development in more general ways. These programs strategically arrange the educational environment to encourage parental interactions with that environment that facilitate cognitive complexity and reasoning capacities. This orientation was reinvigorated by developments in cognitive psychology in the 1970s, which were translated into educational concepts and practices during the 1980s.

The Reflective Dialogue Parent Education Design (RDPED), developed toward the end of this time period, is focused upon here because it is especially reflective of educational approaches in which the telling and demonstrating that characterize transmission approaches are absent and in which an emphasis on engaging parents in situation analysis and dialectical dialogue (Anderson, Thomas, Getahun, & Cooke, 1992; Thomas, 1994, 1996; Thomas, Anderson, Getahun, & Cooke, 1992) is present. Because this parent education curriculum may not be as familiar as those mentioned in connection with a transmission perspective, a brief description the RDPED is provided here.

The educational design of the RDPED is based on cognitive theory. Interest in parent development as an aim of parent education is based on the assumption that parents who have reached higher levels in their own development have a wider repertoire for dealing with, and more complex ways of understanding, their children, their parenting role, and their parent-child relationship than parents who have not reached these levels (Upshur, 1988; Weiss, 1988). Parents who are more emotionally and cognitively mature or advanced should be better able to support their children's development than parents who are less mature.

Parents' participation in reflective dialogue, stimulated by exposure of parents to parenting situations and by parent and facilitator questions, engages parents in the process of problem formulation and interpretation and exposes them to ideas and interpretations that differ from their own, two key learning processes believed to facilitate the deep-level learning this program is designed to facilitate. As parents struggle to understand views of other parents that differ from their own, they become more conscious of their own perspectives. Parents ask their own questions, and also introduce and discuss cases from their own experience in addition to those introduced by the facilitator. In these parent-directed dialogues, parents focus on patterns and problems they can see in their current perspectives regarding their child, their parenting, their relationship with their child, and the consequences of these patterns and problems. Insights emerge regarding the challenges they are experiencing and alternative perspectives they are considering, trying out, or hoping to develop.

One phase of the program entails an individualized, in-home session in which the parent is asked to engage with his or her child in free-play activities while the parent facilitator videotapes the interaction. The videotape is then immediately replayed in short segments while the parent and the facilitator watch. At the end of each segment, the facilitator asks the parent to verbalize what he or she had been thinking during the interaction depicted in the segment and to infer what the child was thinking and feeling. This stimulated recall procedure generates a reflective dialogue between the parent and the parent facilitator, and the parent is invited to continue the reflection through reexamination of the tape on his or her own.

Eventually, reflective dialogues in the parent education group reveal attempts by parents to understand origins and implications of interpersonal interaction themes they see in their own interactions. The dialogues also provide the interpersonal support parents need to be able to acknowledge what they see in themselves and engage in the risky process of change. Through these reflective dialogues, new learning is further integrated into parents' personal perspectives, the stage for transfer of learning across contexts is set, and a self-directed stance toward learning is strengthened.

An analysis of the RDPED in terms of the Berlak dilemmas revealed the following:

Whole person and person as learner.

The dialogues that are generated by parents touch many aspects of their being and their lives. The direction of the dialogues is also determined by parents' personal life interests and concerns. At the same time, the intent of the dialogues is to support learning. Consequently, both sides of this dilemma are reflected in the RDPED.

Educator control and parent control.

In the RDPED, the educator creates with parents an environment that is conducive to exploring issues of interest to parents. Both parents and the educator have considerable influence on the educational process and environment.

Personal knowledge and public knowledge.

The basis of the design is a developmental scheme of parental awareness levels and one of parent-child interaction themes. These are public knowledge. The actual dialogues, however entail a considerable amount of personal knowledge. Through the dialogues, parents connect their personal knowledge with public knowledge and construct new personal knowledge that reflects modifications in both prior personal knowledge and public knowledge, which has been adapted to their own situation.

Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process.

Knowledge is clearly process in the RDPED. The developmental schemes of parental awareness levels and parent-child interaction themes provide a framework within which parents construct and modify knowledge. What specific knowledge will be constructed depends on the parent group and their interests and issues.

Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

Parents' inner need to solve problems is the driving force behind the direction their learning takes. The inner cognitive conflict they experience as a result of their dialogues with other parents provides an internal motivation for resolution of the conflict.

Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular.

Because the RDPED doesn't present content to be learned, it doesn't reflect a view of knowledge as either parcelled out or left whole.

Each parent unique and parents have shared characteristics.

The developmental schemes of parental awareness levels and parent-child interaction themes are presumed to be relevant to all parents, but individual parents are presumed to be at different places in these schemes. Each parent's unique personal knowledge is presumed to not only influence his or her personal learning path, but to also influence other learners' learning through cognitive conflict and mutual support and stimulation of learning.

Learning is social and learning is individual.

The emphasis on reflective dialogue portrays an integration of social and individual aspects of learning. Dialogue with others, which is social, is presumed to stimulate individual reflection, which in turn is presumed to stimulate further dialogue.

Learner as person versus learner as client.

Although not problem and treatment focused as a number of the transmission-oriented parent education models are, the RDPED sees continued and further development along the parental awareness and parent-child interaction themes continua as desirable. The RDPED is designed to promote conditions which facilitate that development. Consequently, the RDPED is a more enrichment-oriented than remediation-oriented program, but nevertheless views the learner as benefitting in an identified way from the educational experience it provides.


With its developmental frameworks and cognitive theory basis, the RDPED most closely reflects the transaction curriculum perspective. It reflects a middle position in the spectrum of parent education curricula, combining some characteristics of transmission-oriented parent education programs and some characteristics of transformation-oriented parent education programs. More than a combination of other programs, however, the RDPED reflects unique characteristics in its parent development orientation and in the parent development theory that underlies it.

Parent Education Models Encompassing Transformation of Contexts of Parents' and Families' Lives.

Like the RDPED, these parent education curricula may not be as familiar to many as the therapy-based parent education models. Two curricula that encompass parents' social contexts are the Oregon Secondary Practical Reasoning Parent Education Curriculum (PRPE) (Oregon Department of Education, 1990) and the Family Matters Curriculum (FM) (Cochran & Woolever 1983). The PRPE parent education curriculum was developed by Oregon educators for middle school and high school students. Its underlying framework is a practical reasoning scheme for addressing practical problems or continuing concerns. Practical problems or continuing concerns are the issues that reoccur across generations of parents but that need to be resolved in different ways to fit the particular time, context, and situation of parents. Securing children's future is an example of a continuing concern. Students are taught a practical reasoning process for identifying and resolving practical problems or continuing concerns. This intellectual and social process involves the following aspects and questions:

  • Considering the context--how did the problem come to be?
  • Considering valued ends--what do we think would be better than the way things are now and is this belief justifiable in terms of evidence, moral concerns, and so forth?
  • Consideration of alternative actions and their consequences--what actions might we take ourselves and with others to bring us closer to our valued ends and what consequences would each possible action have for ourselves and others?

Students identify and work through actual parenting problems of their own or that they see around them, and in the process of doing so, learn the practical reasoning process and take action to transform the situation.

The FM curriculum was established in 1976 (Cochran & Woolever, 1983). It is based on Urie Bronfenbrenner's ecological model, (Bronfenbrenner, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991). A primary aim of the FM is empowerment of families in the formation of contexts (particularly urban ones) supportive to their well-being. Underlying this program is the assumption that "it is not enough to examine the internal states of individuals, or even the interaction patterns of family members" (Cochran & Woolever, 1983, p. 227). This program is based on evidence that the stresses families experience in their daily lives affect the quality of parenting they are able to provide and that change in parents' contexts is needed to alter the stresses.

The curriculum seeks to empower families to create the needed changes in their social networks and neighborhoods and in societal institutions which directly and indirectly affect them. All families are assumed to have some strengths. The most valuable knowledge about rearing children is assumed to be in the people across generations, and in the networks, folkways, and ethnic and cultural traditions rather than in so-called experts.

Various family forms are viewed as legitimate and as being able to promote the development of healthy children and adults. Both fathers and mothers are seen as able to make important contributions to children's development and to the family's income. Cultural differences are seen as both valid and valuable.

Goals of the FM program include (Cochran & Woolever, 1983):

  • reduce isolation;
  • give recognition to parents as experts;
  • reinforce and encourage parent-child activities;
  • share information about children, neighborhood, services, and work;
  • encourage exchange of resources among neighboring families;
  • facilitate concerted action by parents on behalf of their children.

The FM program employs two major strategies: parent-child activity home visits and group-building activities.

An analysis of the PRPE and FM programs in terms of the Berlak dilemmas revealed the following:

Whole person versus person as learner.

These programs are concerned with more than learning. They are concerned with change in the contexts that parents and children experience in their day to day lives, with strengthened parent and child self-concepts, and with reduced stress and frustration due to feelings of powerlessness.

Educator control versus learner control.

These programs respond to learners' interests and needs, but, unlike the RDPED, have no identified developmental schemas along which they purport to help parents move. The program focuses on what is of concern to the learners and supports learners in their efforts to improve their situations. It is not assumed that the educator knows best, or even knows.

Personal knowledge and public knowledge.

The learner is assumed to be the expert on their own situation. The learner's view of their own situation is seen as coloring their perception on public knowledge. For example, a learner who views their situation as hopeless and out of control (personal knowledge) is unlikely to seriously participate in classes designed to learn skills for influencing public policy (public knowledge).

Knowledge as content versus knowledge as process.

Knowledge in the case of the PRPE curriculum is understanding of a process through which understanding can be developed and organized by learners. A wide range of knowledge might be pursued as a part of working through this process.

Intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is emphasized in the FM and PRPE curricula. Parent education participants are encouraged to identify and pursue their own goals rather than goals being imposed by the educator.

Learning is holistic versus learning is molecular.

Learners are encouraged to view themselves in terms of their contexts, the forces and structures in those contexts that affect their lives, and to see themselves and others as part of the same whole that includes the context. The approach to problems in the PRPE is comprehensive, investigating origin and context of a problem as well as solution alternatives. Learning involves changing perspectives, learning skills and knowledge, and doing so with others rather than in isolation.

Each learner unique versus learners have shared characteristics.

In the PRPE, insights about valued ends, context and solutions are anticipated to be different for each learner. Each participant is anticipated to contribute something unique to the group's investigation of a practical problem or continuing concern. In the FM program, a family's situation is believed to be best known by that family, implying that the educator cannot know all the important things to know about the learner. Respect for learners' uniqueness is a theme that is strongly reflected in this program. One shared characteristic is assumed, however, in the FM program: all families have strengths.

Learning is social and learning is individual.

The FM program incorporates both individual in-home sessions as well as group sessions. The PRPE program relies heavily on social interaction around a practical problem to clarify the problem, to stimulate thinking about valued ends, to stimulate creativity in generating alternative solutions, and to provide for comprehensive evaluation of consequences of potential solutions. The FM program assumes collective action is needed to bring about neighborhood and social institution changes that parents identify as needed. Each person, however, has their particular interest in the problem or the proposed change, and is likely to play a unique role in the change process, thereby learning something different from what is learned by his or her peers.

Learner as person versus learner as client.

In neither of these programs is the learner viewed as in need of diagnosis and treatment. Instead, it is the learner who diagnoses problems with the context and takes corrective action. The kind of diagnosis the learner makes and the kind of action he or she takes reflects the learner's personal interest, perspectives, and concerns.


Although the FM and PRPE programs reflect the transformation perspective, they emphasize different kinds of transformation possibilities. In its focus on the contexts families experience, the FM program is oriented to social transformation. The PRPE curriculum, on the other hand, in its focus on a reasoning process for identifying and solving problems, is open to many kinds of transformation possibilities, which include social transformation, as well as personal and family system transformation. This curriculum provides a frame which can incorporate the other curriculum perspectives we have been exploring. For example, suppose a group of high school learners decided that a valued end they wanted to pursue was more satisfying family communication. They might elect to enroll in a transmission-oriented communications skills class as well as restructure their priorities to allow spending more time with their families. This might mean reducing their work hours and dealing with the consequences of reduced income, which would have other consequences.

Implications of Parent Education Curricula for Parents and Children

A number of commonalities pervade all three curriculum perspectives. One of these is a sincere desire on the part of curriculum developers to develop parents' abilities to continue their learning and change processes on their own outside the framework of parent education. What does each curricular perspective imply for such an intent? By incorporating parent's goals, knowledge, perspectives, and situations in the educational process, the transformation perspective puts parents in the role of directing their own learning and change efforts right from the start. This is likely to be a powerful factor in parents' views of themselves as capable of directing their own learning and change--in themselves, their families, and their contexts. Added to this self-view, transformation perspective curriculum provides parents with experience and practice in directing these processes. In contrast, the transmission perspective relies more heavily on a facilitator-educator and on pre-prepared materials to direct parents' learning and change. Parents in transmission-oriented programs may learn the intended skills thoroughly but be less able to transfer their learning about self-change and family system change to new problems that arise over time. On the other hand, transmission curricula are likely to be easier to evaluate. As a result, funding and other support may be easier to obtain for transmission-oriented programs.

The transaction perspective may occupy an interesting "middle of the road" position and combine strengths from the other two perspectives. It may also be more readily accepted than the transformation perspective, which represents a more extreme departure from the widely familiar transmission perspective.

Recommendations for Parent Education Curriculum Work

Clearly, more transmission-oriented parent education curricula can be found than parent education curricula reflecting either the transaction or transformation perspectives. As implied earlier, the transformation perspective might be viewed as an overarching one within which the other two might have a place. For example, certain kinds of development, certain reasoning capabilities are needed for dealing with problems. Curricula reflecting the transaction perspective might be useful for addressing these needs when they are surfaced by parents experiencing a transformation curriculum frame. Curricula reflecting the transmission perspective might be useful when parents experiencing a transformation curriculum frame have identified a need for skill development in a particular area (e.g., the need to know how to use the library efficiently and effectively in preparing testimony for school, neighborhood, state, and national policy-making bodies). In short, transformation curriculum functions to generate reasons and motivation for learning and connects learning to parents' needs, interests, and lives.

Parent educator preparation programs should expose parent educators to a comprehensive array of curriculum models and to parent education programs reflecting the various models. In broadening their perspectives of the possibilities available to them, parent educators will be able to make more deliberate and conscious decisions about curriculum appropriate for those they serve.


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Copyright © 1998 Ruth G. Thomas and Orapan Footrakoon.

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