A Journey Into the Heart's Core: A Phenomenological Exploration of Teaching the Core Knowledge Curriculum

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Grove, Margarete C.
Hultgren, Francine H.
ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART'S CORE: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPLORATION OF TEACHING THE CORE KNOWLEDGE CURRICULUM Margarete C. Grove, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Dissertation Directed by: Professor Francine H. Hultgren Department of Education Policy and Leadership This dissertation is a hermeneutic phenomenological study of the Core Knowledge curriculum. The question I am called by is what is the lived experience of being a Core Knowledge teacher? I orient myself to life by being a teacher, and I seek to know more about this phenomenon of being a Core Knowledge teacher. In what ways do teachers live out their "core" beliefs in the Core Knowledge curriculum? The foundation of this research is philosophically grounded in the work of Ted Aoki, Edward Casey, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, and Parker Palmer, among others. I am called by the philosophical idea of exploring "being." To explore "being" requires a movement beyond conceptual meaning, to the place of what living the experience of being a Core Knowledge teacher is like. Philosophers provide a more complete picture of the journey into knowing and being. Van Manen's (1990) methodological guide, Researching Lived Experience, provides the research framework that I followed while pursuing this phenomenological project. Working within van Manen's framework, I involved seven teachers who were invited to participate in conversations with me about their experience of teaching Core Knowledge. These conversations provided text for further study and thematizing. Core Knowledge as the appearance of choice; being defined by the choice of Core Knowledge; and the experience of regarding curriculum as "thing" were themes uncovered and explored more deeply to open up the experience of teaching Core Knowledge. Hearing these teachers speak about their work with Core Knowledge adds more voices to the conversation about this curriculum and provides more questions to explore. What might be heard from other Core Knowledge teachers as they work with this curriculum? In what ways might the conversations about Core Knowledge be open and deepened by hearing all who journey on this path? This journey into the heart's core provides a place to hear these Core Knowledge teachers as they share their experiences with the curriculum and, in turn, teach others how to listen more thoughtfully.