Walter C. Parker
Walter Parker is Professor of Education and, by courtesy, Political Science at the University of Washington, Seattle. He studies social studies curriculum and instruction, K-12, and concentrates on civic education—teaching and learning about democracy. His design studies are now focused on the high school government course: Which knowledge and skills are worth learning in depth? How can curriculum on the national government be articulated with curriculum on state, local, and tribal governments? How can knowledge and engagement be related, and does participation in political simulations accomplish both? What is meant by “educating global citizens” in school systems designed to advance national security?
Parker aims to contribute to a strand of curriculum scholarship that is concerned with curriculum making and curriculum theorizing in tandem. Concepts such as limited government, inalienable rights, independent judiciary, religious liberty, and free press are political abstractions not easily grasped—a situation demagogues have been quick to exploit. Consequently, liberal democracies are rare historically and inherently fragile. Further, this kind of knowledge is in an epistemic category of its own—it is not likely to be learned at home or at work, and it is not common sense. It is what schools are for—to teach powerful knowledge that is open to refutation and revision and not likely to be learned in everyday sociocultural contexts.
Parker’s articles have appeared in Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, The Seattle Times, Teachers College Record, AERJ, ER, Theory and Research in Social Education, The Social Studies, Citizenship Teaching and Learning, and Journal of Curriculum Studies. His long-running “Research & Practice” column in Social Education was awarded Best Column in a Learned Publication by the American Educational Publishers Association. His books include Renewing the Social Studies Curriculum, Educating the Democratic Mind, Teaching Democracy, and Social Studies Today.
Parker lives in Seattle with his wife, Sheila Valencia.