The curriculum in praxis: how purpose of school is actualized in Vietnam, Mexico, and the United States




Varbelow, Sonja
Gee, Donna

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Palgrave Macmillan


What is the purpose of school, and what role does culture play in how that purpose is actualized? How this question is approached reflects how society thinks about what knowledge is of most worth, which ultimately reflects cultural, philosophical, and political ideas about life purpose (Huebner, 1975/1999; Kincheloe, 2008). This study explores how curriculum influences the way people create life purpose in Vietnam, Mexico, and the U.S. The theoretical framework is narrativity; the data analysis framework is narrative inquiry. The findings point to how curriculum reflects cultural and political beliefs about life purpose, and how each country uses its education system as an instrument to further evolving truths. These findings allow educators to think about curriculum and the purpose of school with an epistemological lens that illuminates how educational experiences and the contextual factors in which they occur influence a person’s beliefs about life purpose. For the parameters of this study, we define life purpose as the impetus for individual decision-making processes. We begin this chapter by delineating fundamental features of each country’s education system followed by a review of the pertinent literature. We then outline the methodology for this study before representing the findings. We conclude this chapter with a discussion of what the findings contribute to fundamental questions about the purpose of school and what knowledge is of most worth.



epistemology, comparative education


Varbelow S., Gee D. (2018). The curriculum in praxis: how purpose of school is actualized in Vietnam, Mexico, and the USA. In: Roofe C., Bezzina C. (eds) Intercultural Studies of Curriculum. Intercultural Studies in Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham