William E. Doll Jr.’s essay “The Four R’s — An Alternative to the Tyler Rationale”

Reading Response

William  E. Doll Jr.’s essay “The Four R’s — An Alternative to the Tyler Rationale” focuses on  delivering a conception of school curriculum guidelines for the post-modern era.  In doll’s estimation, the classic idea of the “Three R’s:” “reading, ‘ritin, and ‘rithmitic” (Doll, 253) are concepts that well-suited the era in which these guidelines were created. Similarly,  Doll feels that contemporary education needs a general model of curriculum. In the essay, Doll lays out a plan for the use of the new “R’s.” The new guides are: richness, recursion, relation and rigor. Doll goes into extensive detail in regard to defining each of the three concepts and relating them to an overall vision of teaching and learning in the post-modern era. Most people who read the essay will grant, at least, that doll’s idea that curriculum should change to fit the  shifting demands of society and modern life, even if they doubt that his specific plan of action and recommendation  is appropriate or adequate.

Doll’s first point: richness, is pretty much self-evident. The idea refers to giving a significant degree of depth to any subject that is taught a multilayered and sophisticated approach. the reason that Doll recommends this as part of the new R’s is because depth-of-knowledge is useful not only in keeping the interest of students, but also because, according to  Doll. the richness of a curriculum should challenge, provoke, startle, and even provoke students due to the fact that these are the very qualities that are experienced in ife itself. From the first concept it is easy to see that doll intends his R’s to function in a pragmatic way and not merely as a an abstract paradigm. The idea that materials should challenge and provoke students in order to mimic the challenges and provocations of life is what can be called experiential learning. Another virtue of the concept of richness is that it can be applied to any discipline under any kind of educational circumstance.

Doll’s second concept: recursion is the use of repetition in order to facilitate learning. Doll  asserts that repetition is a solid technique for bringing students into knowledge. The fact that an idea or set or principles is repeated again and again makes it easier for students to remember key concepts. It also reinforces each element of a given curriculum bringing the element forward multiple times. As Doll points out, repetition not only has the virtue of being good for rote learning, but it brings forward an air of authority to whatever material is being taught. As he specifically indicates, something  about the repetition of intellectual concepts simply makes the concepts more workable and real to students. Again, as in the case of the first concept: richness, the idea of recursion is one that is mean to generate practical results. In this case, that the student will remember key concepts and accord them a measure of authority. recursion is also applicable across a wide range of subjects.

Doll’s third concept is: relations. According to Doll, the main point of any curriculum is that the concepts learned in one area of study should be relatable by the student to other concepts from divergent areas of study. Obviously, the two R’s already described: richness and recursion promote the  idea of relating one concept to another. In this way, students are not only taught facts, but they are taught how to use facts dynamically and they are also taught to think for themselves to produce new ideas which show a synthesis of  what they have been taught. Doll’s final “R:” rigor, seal his approach by insisting that educators remain vigilant in knowing why knowledge is perpetually threatened by bias or prejudice. rigor means keeping a sense of vigilance in the education process that stresses knowledge over tradition or the comfortable continuance of familiar ideas, even when such ideas are no longer functional.

Work Cited

Doll, William E. The Four R’s — “An Alternative to the Tyler Rationale”