William H. Schubert Essay

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William H. Schubert is professor of Education, University Scholar, coordinator of the Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies, and formerly the chair of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he has worked since 1975.

Schubert grew up on a farm within a family of educators in Butler, Indiana; received his bachelor’s degree from Manchester College (1966); received his master’s degree from Indiana University (1967); taught in Downers Grove, Illinois; and received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1975).

Schubert’s scholarship, teaching, and service focus on curriculum theory, history, and development, especially on the place of teachers, learners, and nonschool educators in progressive endeavors. He has authored more than 150 articles and book chapters; presented 200 papers at scholarly conferences; and (with colleagues) has written and edited 14 books, including Curriculum Books: The First Eighty Years (1980); Conceptions of Curriculum Knowledge: Focus on Teachers and Students (1982); Toward Excellence in Curriculum Inquiry (1985); Curriculum: Perspective, Paradigm, and Possibility (1986/1997); Reflections From the Heart of Curriculum Inquiry (1991); Teacher Lore: Learning From Our Own Experience (1992); The American Curriculum (1993); Turning Points in Curriculum (2000/2007); and Curriculum Books: The First Hundred Years (2002).

Schubert has chaired more than 40 doctoral dissertations (and served on more than 100 others). His award-winning teaching uses original role-playing he commonly calls “guest speakers” to portray diverse curriculum orientations, a style he also uses in consulting and writing. Five of his frequently used fictionalized personae include a social behaviorist, an experientialist, an intellectual traditionalist, a critical reconstructionist, and a postmodernist.

Schubert’s recognitions and awards include president of The Society for the Study of Curriculum History, president of the John Dewey Society, president of the Society of Professors of Education, factotum of Professors of Curriculum, chair of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group on Critical Issues in Curriculum, secretary and program chair of the AERA Curriculum Studies Division, and vice president of AERA. He is associate editor of Educational Theory and currently serves or has served on the editorial boards of Educational Studies, Phenomenology and Pedagogy, Teaching Education, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Curriculum and Teaching, Taboo, and Educational Horizons, as well as being a member of the ASCD Publications Committee. Schubert is an elected member of Professors of Curriculum and The International Academy of Education. He received the AERA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and the Mary Anne Raywid Award from the Society of Professors of Education in 2007.

Schubert works to keep alive basic curriculum questions: What’s worthwhile? What is worth knowing, needing, experiencing, doing, being, becoming, overcoming, sharing, and contributing? Why, how, when, where, and with what consequences? Who decides these matters, and who should decide them? Who benefits? Who should benefit more fully? Schubert strongly believes that we need to embody such questions in all of the educational situations of our lives—past, present, and possible.


  1. Schubert, W. H. (1997). Curriculum: Perspective, paradigm, and possibility. New York: Macmillan.

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