Reconstructionism and Interdisciplinary Global Education:    Curricula Construction in a Teilhardian Context

Dr. Stephen R. White, D.A.

Assistant Professor

Appalachian State University

Reich College of Education

310 Duncan Hall

Boone, North Carolina 28608

(828) 297-4893


  Reconstructionism is a philosophical movement that conceptualizes education as an institution for social engineering.  A primary objective for reconstructionists is to develop innovative curricula and pedagogical strategies to construct a new consciousness of collective international social cooperation.  Thus, global education is an area of intense interest to reconstructionists.

    The central thesis of this article is as follows. Avant-garde French intellectual Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s (1881-1955) theories of psychosocial evolution are logically grounded in empirical scientific research and rigorous phenomenological inquiry. These theories are congruent with a reconstructionist conceptualization of global education. Therefore, Teilhardian thought can be effectively utilized as the theoretical foundation for contextualizing interdisciplinary global education curricula.  The structure of this article is triadic: (1) Define reconstructionist global education, (2) provide a descriptive analysis of Teilhardian theories, and (3) construct an interdisciplinary curricula model in a Teilhardian context as template for reconstructionist global educators.

“The Age of Nations is past.  The task before us now, if we would not parish, is to shake off our ancient prejudices, and to Build the Earth…. The future of the world is in our hands.”                                  -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Challenge of Globalization for Educators

   The consensus is that the recent terrorist attack on the United States will forever change the way we think about ourselves and look at each other.  This hideous act of ignorance will certainly have a far-reaching effect on the way we live and deeply affect our collective consciousness.  With this horrible singular act of unimaginable injudicious hate, Americans have become intensely aware that we live in a new world that is inherently interdependent.  The emergence of this new world is especially challenging for educationists who must conceive of innovative strategies to educate humankind for the future.  Education toward a future where global cooperation is the norm, and not the exception, and planetary citizenship is held in the same high esteem as national patriotism.  Hopefully, this horrendous crisis will present an opportunity to form new social relationships on an international scale and to construct a new global consciousness.  Perhaps today, more importantly than ever, what we teach and how we teach it will be the defining legacy of 21st century education and civilization.

Globalization is defined as the compression of the world internationally and the intensification of consciousness globally.  The process is real and ongoing on an international social, political, and humanitarian scale.  Our age has been characterized as one of accelerated globalization requiring a shift in society’s orientation toward international relations and developments (Featherstone, Lash, & Robertson, 1995; Gabardi, 2001).

Educational socialization is the process of developing learners’ social intelligence and social competence.  Social intelligence is knowing oneself and empathically understanding other people.  Social competence is the ability to act on one’s knowledge base so that interaction with others in addressing issues is rational.  In our current historical epoch of intensified globalization, analytical, affective, and rational social intelligence and competence are essential to advance social progress over global self-destruction (Oreinstein & Hunkins, 1998). 

 Theoretically, global education is the socialization process into globalization.  It is acquiring the intellectual competence and cognitive skills necessary to function as rational citizens in the emerging global order.  There is much to reorient Americans toward globalization.  American social institutions and culture are grounded in an unquestionable faith in national sovereignty, autonomous individualism, and competitive market economics.  These articles of faith are being challenged by the demands for increased international interdependence and collective cooperation that undermines, in many respects, this near holy trinity.  Nothing less than a transformational shift in social consciousness is required so that futures Americans do not become dysfunctional global citizens (White, 1997).

American educator Kenneth A. Tye (1991) wrote:

The United States – indeed the world – is at a quite critical crossroads.  In every direction are new economic, political, cultural ecological, and technological realities…Our populace and leaders will need attitudes and behaviors that recognize and promote interdependence and cooperation among nations.  However, getting this fact understood in a society based upon individualism and competition is not easy.  As social scientists have told us, Americans have a deep desire for autonomy and self-reliance (p.1).

Accordingly, the challenge for global educators is to develop innovative curricula and pedagogical strategies that construct the knowledge base necessary to holistically understand the complexity of globalization and evolving new social and cultural realities.  Thus, educating toward a global consciousness, which is a reflective awareness of ourselves and understanding of our fellow global citizens, is critical  (Diaz, Massialas, & Kanthopoukos, 1999; Tye & Tye, 1992). 

Reconstructionism and Global Education

   Reconstructionism is a philosophical movement within the field of education, sometimes termed social reconstructionism.  It asserts that educators must develop curricula and pedagogical techniques specifically to reconstruct society and educational practices from their current state.  The role of educationists is that of change agents and social architects.  There are five major tenets of reconstructionism: (1) Society and education require constant reconstruction; (2) programs of study should be interdisciplinary; (3) education is being used to build a new social order and educate individuals into new citizenry behavioral roles, (4) a rationally educated humankind can direct the process of social and conscious evolution toward progressive goals and thus control humankind’s destiny; and (5) educational socialization must now be both globalist and futuristic in its orientation (Gutek, 1988; James, 1995; Ozman & Crave, 1999; Stanley, 1992).

The overriding idea is that because education is a strategic social institution, a shift in educational orientation will manifest social changes.  For social change to occur, humankind must first be educated for change.  Thus, reconstructionists assert that current curricular action will ultimately translate into future social and political policies (Gutek, 1988; James, 1995; Oreienstein & Behar-Horenstein, 2001; Oreinstein & Hunkins, 1998)

Theodore Brameld (1904-1987) is an archetypal reconstructionist figure.  He was a humanist, social globalist, futurist, and a pioneer theorist in the development of global education thought.  His thought was deeply influenced by German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel’s (1770-1831) idealism of dialectical consciousness evolution.  Hegelian philosophy asserts that a dialectic process of ideas (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) leads to higher order knowledge.  Human history and social systems exist within progressive dialectical movement with each new idealistic epoch resulting in an elevated social reality and level of consciousness (Oreinstein & Carver, 1999).  Similarly, Brameld argued that social reconstruction occurs through the dialectical process of ideas precipitated through education. Education is the forum to cultivate ideas that will push humankind into new-elevated social realities (1956 and 1972).

Brameld believed that collectively humankind is at a critical crossroads with one path leading to inevitable destruction and the other toward exaltation.  He was committed to educating humankind toward the path of empowerment through exploring alternative ideas in the reconstruction of sovereign internationalism into a new diverse yet unified global order.  Therefore, educational content and context must be focused on promoting transnational cooperation over present day nationalism and sovereign individualism. 

Finally, he believed that humankind must embrace a united global organization that encompasses peoples of all nations, race, culture and creeds with the common purpose of constructing a peaceful international order (Brameld, 1956).  The best way to socialize an international citizenry into a globalized democratic system is to nurture a new consciousness that humankind shares the planet collectively. Given this, educators have an extraordinary opportunity to point humankind toward new directions through integrating transformative globalist social theories into curricula contexts (Brameld, 1956, 1972).  Brameldian educational thought is congruent with current sociological demands of globalization and is relevant for contemporary scholarly debate.

                                                                         Teilhardian Philosophy of Evolution 

Frenchmen Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was one of the unique intellectuals of the 20th century. An ardent humanist, globalist, and dogmatic evolutionist, he was a prophetic visionary of evolving globalization and a future unified global order.  Teilhardianism is intellectually stimulating and reflectively challenging.

Academically, he was a paleontologist and a Jesuit philosopher. The focus of his research was the creative process of evolution.  Teilhard (1999) writes: “ Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis?  It is much more, it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true.  Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow” (p. 219).  For him, this assertion is nonetheless true for social and psyche evolution.  His primary objective in analyzing evolution was to acquire a meaningful understanding of the human phenomenon. 

Teilhard termed his methodology Scientific Phenomenology.  The assertion is that a holistic analysis of evolutionary movement must incorporate objective scientific analysis of empirical activity coupled with a subjective phenomenological observation of conscious activity. He surmised that this method is necessary as evolution is moving from a physical energy “without” and from psyche energy “within” reality. 

Tangential energy is the physical energy “without” evolutionary movement while radial energy is the psyche energy “within” evolution.  Tangential energy is the quantitatively measurable laws of physics and radial energy is the qualitatively observable phenomenon of nature.  These energies form an interconnected monist reality of physical and psychic energies.  Thus all matter, inanimate and organic, contains seeds of consciousness.  Controlled scientific experiments cannot demonstrate the existence of consciousness in the inorganic material world but it can be verified through phenomenological inquiry of evolutionary phenomena (Birx, 1991; King, 1996; Teilhard, 1999). 

Teilhard proclaimed his greatest discovery as the Law of Complexity and consciousness (Complexity-consciousness). The Law of Complexity-consciousness states that an increase in physical complexity produces an intensification of tangential energy with a corresponding elevated increase of radial energy; consciousness.  Formulated, an increase in the complexity of matter organizationally equals a higher degree of consciousness.  This relational interplay between energies pushes evolutionary movement in a geometric, conic-shaped, pattern toward increasing convergence.

Through the Law of Complexity-consciousness, evolution has occurred in stages producing distinct planetary spheres of existence.  The first stage was from a point of disorganized elementary particles moving upwards to pre-life matter.  This is the evolution of elemental matter and the physical organization of planet Earth, the Geosphere. The second stage is emergence of organic matter converging into the organization of complex life forms upwards to the emergence of mammals. This is the evolution of life and the formation of the Biosphere.   Most significantly, this stage produced Homo sapiens who possess a physically large brain and neurologically complex cerebral system, capable of reflective thought. Reflexive thought is or consciousness is the essential characteristic of human phenomenon. Distinctively, humans are the only creatures on earth who are meta-cognitive (i.e., humans are the only creatures that know that they know.  Thus, the human phenomenon, the apex of biological evolution, is now the key to understanding and directing future evolutionary movement (Birx, 1991; Teilhard, 1999). 

The emergence of reflective consciousness marks the current stage of evolution.  Evolutionary movement has now shifted from the biological realm to the psychosocial realm. This is the formative stage of the Noosphere.  Teilhard derived the prefix for the Greek term “noos” meaning mind.   The Noosphere is described as a semi-imposed layer of thought forming around the planet, metaphorically clothing the globe with a brain.  The future of human evolution is the organizational complexification of this social sphere surrounding the planet creating a collective global consciousness.

Futuristically, Teilhard theorized that Noospheric evolution would over eons of time lead to a final end point, the Omega Point.  The Omega Point is in essence spiritual evolution.  The postulation is that ultimately only consciousness, or radial energy, will exist after the law of entropy totally diminishes tangential energy extinguishing material existence.  With this esoteric conjecture, Teilhard leaps into mystical scientific speculation and theological inference. The notion of a future Omega Point has fueled much scientific conjecture and theological debate.  Nevertheless, the focus here is on the pragmatic and realist Teilhardian theories of psychosocial evolution (Birx, 1991; Cowell, 2001; Lane, 1996; Teilhard, 1995, 1999).  

Formation of the Noosphere: Global Psychosocial Evolution

The formation of the Noosphere can be assessed from three Teilhardian theories of psychosocial evolution: (1) socialization, (2) personalization, and (3) planetization.  These sociological concepts are interrelated and means that humankind is now consciously participating in the evolutionary process.

Socialization is the theory that physical evolution (tangential energy) has shifted through humankind from the biological to the social sphere.  Biological evolution peaked with the emergence of the human phenomenon and reflective consciousness.  Socialization is the continuation and extension of biological and psychic evolution but within society.  Accordingly, society is conceived as an organic system.  Teilhard (1999) wrote:

We see nature combining molecules and cells in the living body to construct separate individuals and the same nature stubbornly pursuing the same course but on a higher level, combining individuals into social organisms in order to obtain a higher order of psychic results. They [humans] continue the process of chemistry and biology without a break in the social sphere (p.136).

According to the Law of Complexity-consciousness, society will increasingly become more complex in organization, moving toward tighten convergence, producing elevated levels of consciousness (Birx, 1991; King, 1989, 1996).  However, rather than increased social complexity resulting in an impersonal organization of alienated individuals, the process essentially personalizes individuals.  That is, socialization will create a shift in consciousness, transforming the individual into a person.  This is the concept of Personalization (Cobb, 1998; Cowell, 2001, King, 1989; Teilhard, 1999).

            Teilhardian personalism is distinctively different from the notion of individualism.  Individualism infers separateness from others in society. That is, the individual is an autonomous social entity.  Conversely, personalism is the intensification of an individual’s own conscious evolution precipitated through close associations with “others” through increasing socialization.  Personalization is a transformation of individuals from the linkage between social evolution and their personal conscious evolution.  The transformation occurs as individuals become reflectively aware of their own conscious development while also becoming aware of the consciousness of others.  In the Teilhardian Weltanschauung, a person can truly find himself or herself only in and through an intense social and conscious union with others.  This unification through psychosocial convergence does not diminish the person as an individual but rather elevates them beyond themselves.  It is through unified action and collective reflection that the individual qualitatively becomes a person (King, 1989, 1996; Teilhard, 1995, 1999, 2000).    

            The processes of socialization and personalization convergence are evolutionary harmonic.  Socialization is the Law of Complexity-consciousness is working on the collective macro-logical level of society while correspondingly personalization is on the micro-logical of individual consciousness.  Teilhard argues that the future of humankind, if man is to continue to exist, is that of collective social cooperation between personalized individuals.   (Birx, 1991; King, 1996, 1989; Lane, 1996; Roberts, 1998). 

Furthermore, he noted that with advancements in transportation, communication systems, and information technology, humankind has entered a period of accelerated socialization and personalization on a global scale.  This movement toward tighter social unification and global convergence is the notion of Planetization.

            The first phase of planetization was the population expansion and divergence of the human species.  Humankind became differentiated by racial, social, and cultural differences while migrating to the far-reaching corners of the planet.  This was the period of planetary divergence.  Conversely, beginning in the modern era, humankind entered the second phase of planetization.  Through transportation, information technology, and communication advancements humankind has begun to move from isolated divergence to collective amalgamation.  This is the period of planetary convergence.

Globally, peoples are sharing their conflicts, accomplishments, and concerns.  The result of this development is that humankind is beginning to act and think collectively as a unified “planetary society” and “planetized humanity.”  Planetization is the capstone stage of global psychosocial evolution leading to the formation of the Noosphere (see Figure 1: Teilhardian Theory of Social Evolution). (Birx, 1991; King, 1996; Provencal, 1998; Roberts, 2000; Teilhard, 1999).          

Figure 1: Teilhardian Theory of Social Evolution


Law of Complexity   Planetization The Noosphere    consciousness                                               


Written several decades ago, Teilhard’s vision prophetically mirrored our current age of globalization.  His vision is particularly timely with to the emergence of cyberspace and the World Wide Web forming what has been termed a global cyberspace civilization.  In fact, some self-proclaimed Teilhardians view the Internet as the convergence of thought and collectivizer of minds, actually sowing the seeds of the Noosphere.  The complex interconnections of fiber optics and communications satellites surrounding the planet have created a “neural net” literally surrounding the planet and forming a global brain.  Metaphorically, Teilhard conceives the Noosphere as an organism being born as a complex planetary neurological system.

Many cyberspace developments are harmonious with Teilhard’s (1999) prophecy:

A harmonized collectivity of consciousness, equivalent to a kind of super-consciousness, is emerging.  With the Earth not only covered by myriads of grains of though, but wrapped in a single thinking envelope until it functionally forms but a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal side.  The plurality of individual reflections being grouped and reinforced in a single unanimous act of reflection (p. 178).

John Barlow Perry, an information technologist and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated: “ What Teilhard was saying can be summed up in a few words, the point of evolution to this stage is to create a collective organism of mind.  With cyberspace, we are simply hardwiring the Noosphere. Social progress from this point is toward globalization thus modern man must advance consciousness of planetary unity” (Cobb, 1998, pp. 85-86). 

Teilhard (2000) wrote:

There is now incontrovertible evidence that mankind has just entered upon the greatest period of change the world has ever known.  The ills from which we are suffering have had their seat in the very foundations of human thought.  But today something is happening to the whole structure of human consciousness.  A fresh kind of [collective social] life is starting (p.5).

A perpetual optimist, Teilhard adamantly believed that collective global social progression is occurring despite persistent international social strife and political conflict.  Past socioeconomic experiments and political ideologies are only evolutionary “birth pangs” of a coming new age of international cooperation.  In a Jungian sense, progress motivates humankind because we have collectively inherited an unconscious drive to create a positive future.  More and more individuals will begin to work for greater socialization, personalization, and planetization due humankind’s inwardly unconscious and outwardly conscious common aspiration: “A faith in the future”  (Teilhard, 2000, 1999, 1995).

Teilhard proposed a new future oriented ideology, designed specifically to inspire social progress, collective cooperation and global consciousness, a new “Spirit of the Earth.”   He (2000) declared:

The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not parish, is to shake off our ancient prejudices, and to ‘Build the Earth’ . . . Life can progress on our planet in the future (and nothing will prevent it from progressing, not even its own intellectual servitude) by throwing down the barriers which still wall off human activity, and by giving itself up without hesitation to faith in the future.  We must put in the forefront concrete preoccupations, this systematic arrangement and exportation of our universe, understood as the true country of humankind. (p.5 & p 54).

            Teilhardian ideology is grounded upon the realization that just as humankind has a common biological and psychic history, likewise we have a common collective future.  Future progress is dependent on our collective consciousness of a common planetary citizenship.  In many respects, this proclamation is a Teilhardian Noospheric mission statement.

 Teilhardian Thought and Education 

            In agreement with Reconstructionists, Teilhard advocated education as socialization toward globalization, or, synonymously, planetization. He held education as an essential social institution driving human evolution. The current stage of psychosocial evolution demands that education play an increasing role due to the transformative power of knowledge in reorienting society for future planetization.  Education nourishes evolution by passing on knowledge of past advances to each succeeding generation (Teilhard, 1995). 

            British scholar Ursula King (1989), assessed Teilhardianism from a global education perspective:

[Teilhard believed] Humankind needs to want to evolve, needs to believe in the positive value of the future in order to be able to strive for it.  Thus,             individuals require to be educated toward such a future affirming belief; they need to be educated toward human oneness, toward a community beyond the individual rather than merely affirming             the place of the individual in society . . . Educationists, too, [like Teilhard] are stressing that the quality of             relationships, rather than the education technique employed, is decisive in the education of humanity toward maturity and growth.  The education and general orientation of people toward the future is vital for the course and eventual outcome of the future.  Humanity now bears full responsibility for its own future. Teilhard especially stressed the need to feed the fundamental psychological drive to want to evolve. A higher socialization of humankind can only be brought about if people have the will and energy to work for it, if they deeply believe in the positive value of the future...Therefore, people need to be educated toward such a future affirming and animating belief; they need to be educated toward human oneness and the creation of a global community [planetization].  This is an immense challenge, which can only be met if we thoroughly prepare ourselves for the task. The kind of future we will get depends to a large extent on the quality of people who shape it. (Pp. 37,41,51).

Epistemologically, a salient Teilhardian characteristic is his interdisciplinary orientation.  Teilhard’s research was intensely entrenched in interdisciplanarity. He was certain that academicians and educationists must resist the danger of over “specialization” and construct knowledge that vaporize the artificial lines between the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.  He warned against modern academe’s positivistic scientism tendency to advance disciplinary specialization.  From his research of evolutionary phenomenon he knew that over specialization always occasions biological extinction.  Specialization’s preoccupation with parts deliberately forfeits the opportunity to holistically comprehend the human phenomenon. Thus, he hypothesized, academic specialization, over interdisciplinary synthesis, can potentially stagnate social progress, impede intellectual development, and in doing so advance human extinction (King, 1996; Teilhard, 1999, 1995). Considering this perspective, educationally applying Teilhardian thought is an interdisciplinary act. Teilhardian interdisciplinary curricular is logically consistent with reconstructionism.  This recognition, coupled with his globalist and futuristic orientation, validates the rationale for infusing Teilhardianism into reconstructionist global education curricula.

Global Education Curricula in a Teilhardian Context

Theoretically, global education is inherently an interdisciplinary program of study. Learning content and context are designed specifically so learners acquire a sound knowledge base and develop competent cognitive skills across disciplines. The primary goal is to inform and cause reflection regarding international relations and globalization issues. The objective is to reconstruct society through transformative conceptualizations. In this global curricula model, Teilhardian thought is the theoretical foundation for contextualizing the content.  Infusing global education curricula with Teilhardianism positions the knowledge content within the context of future social and conscious evolutionary movement (King, 1986; Oliva, 2001; Ornstein & Behar-Horenstein, 2001; Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998; Wiles, 1999; Wiles & Bondi, 2001).  

Conceptually, the Teilhardian curricula are conceived as contributing to global convergence and the formation of the Noosphere.  The knowledge and cognitive skills learners acquire is intensifying the semi-imposed layer of thought surrounding the Earth.  Constructing learning experiences within the context of socialization, personalization, and planetization promotes globalization and nourishes the Noosphere.  Educationally, learners become conscious of their global citizenship and are socialized into globalization in a meaningful way.

The structure of the Teilhardian curricula program follows. The sciences curriculum is constructed within the context of socialization, the humanities curriculum is constructed within the context of personalization, and the social sciences curriculum is constructed within the context of planetization

(see Table 1: Curricula Foundations).

Table 1: Curricula Foundations

Educational Objectives: Global Education

Knowledge Content: Interdisciplinary Studies

  Theoretical Context:

Teilhardian Thought – Psychosocial evolution and the formation of the Noosphere


                                Teilhardian                Epistemological     Curriculum               Contextualization      Orientation                  Cognitive Skills


Sciences                     Socialization                Objective Knowledge       Analytical  

Humanities                 Personalization            Affective Knowledge        Emotional/                                                                                                            Spiritual

Social Sciences           Planetization                 Rational Knowledge       Reflective Social                                                                                                          Action

Social Action

Sciences Curriculum: Socialization Context

            The goals of the sciences curriculum are to construct objective knowledge and develop analytical cognitive skills regarding globalization.  The notion of socialization guides scientific, mathematical, and technological studies.  Contextually, the postulation is that scientific and technological developments are moving international relations toward increasing organizational complexity and global convergence. This is the social infrastructure for greater collective global consciousness.  Scientific developments are accelerating evolutionary movement toward globalization. Framing the sciences curriculum within Teilhardian socialization assists educators and learners in visualizing an evolving planetary social organization as an organic extension of human evolution.

Humanities Curriculum: Personalization Context

The goals of the humanities curriculum are to construct affective knowledge and develop emotional and spiritual skills regarding globalization. The curriculum is designed so that learners experience other’s life-world realities through an emphasis on multicultural studies.  The objective is to nurture an empathetic understanding of other peoples on the planet (Banks, 1994, 1999; Ornstein & Hunkins, 2001).

The humanities are studied in the context of personalization; learners are educated to become aware of their own conscious development.  Teilhard predicted that the evolution of persons thinking collectively, on a planetary scale, would result in a transformation conscious.  Contextualizing the humanities curriculum as a process of personalization is an educational process of reconstructing the individual’s own consciousness.  Thus, there is an intrinsic and meaningful relationship between acceptances of other coupled with a sense of evolving self-hood in a global context.  Multicultural studies are consistent with personalization and consciousness evolution precipitated by an empathic understanding of other persons as fellow planetary citizens.  This affective knowledge translates into emotional and spiritual skills that will promote the individuals own conscious evolution. 

Emotional skills are defined as an aspiration to acquire an empathetic understanding of other persons.  Spiritual skills are defined as the desire for wholeness from the interconnected desire for self-actualization and awareness for the need to cultivate a drive for peaceful coexistence. Personalization is an intellectually stimulating context from which to construct a dynamic humanities global education curriculum.

                                                                                Social Sciences Curriculum:  Planetization Context

The goals of the social science curriculum are to construct a rational knowledge base and development the cognitive skills for reflective social action regarding globalization. The objective is the promotion of reflective social behavior within the context of planetization. 

Sociology, political science, history, economics, psychology, and anthropology are studied so that learners develop an intellectual framework necessary to assess how social institutions and interactions can promote global cooperation and planetary convergence.  The studies are designed to nurture an understanding of humankind as an interconnected global community.  The content addresses global issues from the perspective of the historical significance and the cultural and social needs of fellow planetary citizens (Diaz, Massialas, & Kanthopoulous, 1999). The notion of planetization provides the context to study international relations as evolutionary movement toward a diverse, yet, unified planetary culture.  In doing so, a sense of global citizenship and planetary ownership is promoted.

            In summary, contextualizing interdisciplinary global education curricula with Teilhardian thought is a rationally coherent program of study. The content areas are logically interconnected while still maintaining disciplinary autonomy (Oliva, 2001).  Learners acquire the knowledge base and cognitive skills to function as intelligent and reflective planetary citizens and are affectively empowered to facilitate the work toward ending the fragmentary age of nations and to begin the collective Teilhardian work to build the Earth.

Limitations and Potentialities of the Curricula

            Reconstructionists are criticized for lacking any real pragmatic application.  Critics charge that a reconstructionist’s analysis of social problems and proposed educational remedies suffers from shallowness and superficiality.  The accusation is that in their passion for social change, they are precipitous in their recommendations to reconstruct education at the expense of essential cognitive skills and knowledge content.  In practice, reconstructionist’s classrooms become experimental labs for ideological indoctrination and to test social theories.  The role of learners is simply to function as passive pedagogical guinea pigs (Gutek, 1988; Ozman and Carver, 1999).

Brameld (1972), in particular, has been dismissed as a utopian idealist and global socialist.  His thought is inspirational but lapses into ideological speculation as to “what ought to be” without objectively addressing “how” humankind can overcome monumental international education problems.  Educationally, a strong argument is that conventional educators and social scientists do not accept reconstructionist basic premises and thus it remains the concern of intellectual elites, political ideologues, and idealistic social globalist.  Conventional educators favor a pragmatic and realist approach to international educational studies (Ozman & Carver, 1999). 

Nevertheless, in defense of reconstructionists, they are to be credited with developments in global education, interdisciplinary studies, and have contributed to the field of educational futurology.  Reconstructionists have been forthright in identifying the challenges of globalization facing future generations and for bringing the issue before educational theorists and practitioners.  As a result, the movement has provoked analytical and reflective thought regarding international studies, educational reform in the context of social evolution and globalism that may not have otherwise developed  (Gutek, 1988; James, 1995; Ozman & Carver, 1999; Stanley, 1992; Wiles & Bondi, 2001). 

            Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, likewise, has received harsh criticism. The most significant criticisms are of the rigor of his Scientific Phenomenology, the validity of his scientific theories, the soundness of the Law of Complexity-consciousness, and the objectivity regarding evolutionary external and internal energies.  Scathing criticisms regarding the integrity of Teilhardianism are well documented and do have some validity.  Like reconstructionists, he has been accused of espousing a sophisticated global idealism that is more metaphysical than a realistic or pragmatic assessment of international relations.  Consequently, these criticisms spill over into an application and extension of Teilhardian thought (Birx, 1991; Lane, 1996; White, 1997).    Educationists who come from struggling socioeconomic environments may not ascribe to an idealistic Teilhardian curricula as being practically relevant to their socioeconomic and cultural issues.  Thus, contexualizing global education curricula with Teilhardianism could lack the strength to unite all members of a learning community into a common mission.  This issue can be especially problematic for educationists in our politically conservative age of meritorious accountability and inflexible learning assessments.

There is the risk of converting Teilhardianism into a cultic like uncompromising globalist political ideology.  Some Teilhardian scholars, fueled by the fire of his inspirational poetic vision of global psychosocial evolution, have become dogmatically zealous literalists and ideologically pretentious, leaving behind empirical objectivity and scholarly integrity (Lane, 1996). 

In spite of these limitations, Teilhardian theories are immensely thought provoking and hold significant qualifications for an effectual and affective contextualizing of interdisciplinary global education curricula. Teilhardianism, integrated into global education curriculums, is an intellectually fertile program from which to teach international studies alternatively.  It provides the foundation from which to conceptualize how humankind has evolved, where we are now sociologically, and where humankind is collectively headed globally in both the near and far distant future. The insights stimulated by Teilhardian thought are without creative boundaries and uniquely illuminates the objectives of a reconstructionist global education.  


Evidence regarding the intellectual value of Teilhardian thought has recently surfaced in the European intellectual community. The British Teilhard Association and the French Teilhard Association in Paris in conjunction with the University of Sussex in Great Britain have began a major project to re-translate and publish twelve volumes of his scientific and philosophical works.  Over the next ten years, a select international community of academics, from diverse disciplines, will provide an interdisciplinary scholarly analysis of his writings. The primary objective is to place Teilhardianism in a contemporary context.  This ambitious project promises to create a resurgence of interest in this phenomenal intellectual as a new generation, who is living in the midst of accelerating globalization, and most challenging times, is introduced to his pioneering work and inspiring vision.  Hopefully, this study will also make a contribution toward advancing the exploration of Teilhardian thought within the American educational community.


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