Fireside Chat with Dr. Dwayne Huebner



I am delighted to announce that on July 3, 2013 at 2:30—4:00 pm in Scarfe room 310, Dr. Dwayne Huebner will be visiting the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy to hold a fireside chat with interested faculty members and graduate students. We will decide on the location when we know how many people wish to attend.

Who is Dwayne Huebner?

In 1969, Bill Pinar was privileged to study with Dwayne Huebner at Teachers College. In a large room with 70 others, he watched an extraordinary figure in the distance–speaking a tongue few of them grasped–whom they all found compelling. They knew they were in the presence of a most remarkable and learned man. Huebner helped create the world which contemporary curriculum scholars now inhabit and labor to recreate as educators and theoreticians. His generative influence has been evident in many discourses, including the political, the phenomenological, the aesthetic, and the theological. Thus, Huebner’s work in many ways  foreshadowed the reconceptualization of the field in the 1970s.

Dr. Dwayne Huebner is truly one of the founders of the curriculum re-conceptualist movement. He is Professor Emeritus at Teachers College Columbia University. In 1957, he took a position as assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. He would spend a large part of his professional teaching career at Teachers College (1957-1982), moving from assistant to full professor. From 1979 until 1982, he chaired the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. Just ten years after joining the faculty at Teachers College, Huebner was already shaking the foundations of the curriculum field. He was one of the presenters at a major curriculum conference held at Ohio State University in 1967. Bill Pinar has called Huebner’s paper, “Curriculum as a concern for man’s temporality” (1967a), a “groundbreaking paper” (Pinar, et al., 1995, 1996, p. 179).

Dwayne Huebner completed his masters degree at the University of Chicago, studying under the influence of leading figures in the field, like Virgil E. Herrick and Ralph W. Tyler. He later went on to do his PhD at Wisconsin where he and fellow doctoral student James B. MacDonald  came under Herrick’s influence at Madison. Huebner and Macdonald would become close friends, a relationship that continued until Macdonald’s death in 1985. Like Huebner, Macdonald would also come to be known for his work in the curriculum field. Huebner and Macdonald were among a group of doctoral students who participated in a continuing seminar with Herrick during the three years of Huebner’s full-time study at Madison.

Huebner was usually ahead of his contemporaries in thinking about education and teaching. Bill Pinar, who has been one of his most articulate interpreters, comments: “Efforts in the late 1970’s and 1980’s to understand curriculum politically, phenomenologically, aesthetically, and theologically can be directly traced to Huebner’s groundbreaking scholarship in the 1960’s and early 1970’s” (Pinar, 1999, p. xx).

Huebner’s influence has been immense. His students have included Michael Apple at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Greta Morine-Derschimer who taught at Syracuse and retired from the University of Virginia. Bill Pinar and Bill Doll, who teach curriculum theory here in EDCP, would be among those also influenced by Huebner’s thought. Bill Pinar noted in 1975 that Huebner’s “work spans fifteen years, and his voice has been original, alone, and insufficiently recognized for most of those years” (Pinar, 1975, p. 209).

In 1981, Huebner became Visiting Professor of Christian Education (1982-1985) at Union Theological College and in 1985, he was named Professor of Christian Education at Yale’s Divinity School, and from 1992 until his retirement from Yale in 1994 Huebner served as the Horace Bushnell Professor of Christian Nurture. His appointment to the faculty of the Divinity School at Yale was a significant event in religious education. Huebner made an equally huge impact on the field of religious education as he had earlier in curriculum. Earlier, he had foreshadowed this influence in his 1974 piece “Toward a Remaking of Curricular Language.” There he said that his intention was to call attention to the way the language used in talking about infants and young children masked the traditions, memories, and intentions of parents and educators. He wrote:

This language is unconsciously furthered and developed by the scientific study of the child, a study that has ignored the place of the adult in the child’s world, the politics of adult-child relationships, the child’s participation in the building of public worlds, and the art of interpretation about the meaning of life as people, children, and adults live it together (Huebner, 1974a [1999], pp. 186-187).

In this statement Huebner articulates four important themes in his work: (1) language, (2) politics, (3) hermeneutics, and (4) relationships. Education is for Huebner “the lure of the transcendent—that which we seem is not what we are for we could always be other. Education is the openness to a future that is beyond all futures. Education is the protest against present forms that they may be reformed and transformed” (Huebner, 1985, p. 463). He is more than a leading figure in the curriculum field—Huebner is a deep, original thinker, a provocateur, and a prophet.

I cannot overstate how this fireside chat opportunity represents a remarkable opportunity to meet with Dwayne Huebner on what could well be his final visit ever to Vancouver. Mark your calendar and let Anna Ip know if you wish to attend.

Best, Peter

Peter Grimmett
Professor and Head, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy