Dwayne Huebner Essay

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Dwayne Huebner is a philosopher and curriculum theorist who helped shepherd the reconceptualist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Through Huebner’s work, curriculum scholars began to consider language, environment, politics, and history as critical elements within their theorizing.

Language was a significant element within Huebner’s curriculum theorizing. He rejected the scientific and empirical basis of curriculum theorizing, including such basic traditional curriculum concepts as learning and purpose. He argued that such technical terms limited the curriculum process to things that were finite and measurable. Instead, Huebner argued for a new language that was influenced by phenomenology and existential philosophy.

Huebner also argued that although the language of politics could provide educators a means through which they could address problems of power, educators have no strong ideology through which to use a political language to make a difference in education. Instead, educators typically search for empirical truths and scientific generalizations, and this pursuit prevents them from using their collective power for good.

Huebner’s work, in many ways, focused on the complex and moral nature of the environment. He posited that curriculum workers create environments, and these spaces should be designed so that students and teachers can engage in mutual and loving relationships.

Huebner left curriculum studies in 1982 to pursue Christian education at Yale Divinity School. Nevertheless, his influence continued to be felt through the work of his immediate students such as William Pinar and Michael Apple and through the ideas he introduced regarding the reconceptualization of curriculum.


  1. Hillis, V. (Ed.). (1999). Lure of the transcendent: Collected essays by Dwayne E. Huebner. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  2. Pinar, W. F., Reynolds, W. M., Slattery, P., & Taubman, P. M. (1995). Understanding curriculum: An introduction to the study of historical and contemporary discourses. New York: Peter Lang.
  3. White, K. (1980). The work of Dwayne Huebner: A summary and response. Journal of Curriculum Theory, 2(2), 73–87.

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