Term of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

Brian Schultz

Committee Member 3

John Weaver

Committee Member 3 Email



This study explores active, meaningful, and worthwhile learning that was discovered through a time capsule that was buried by six elementary gifted students at Springdale Elementary School in Macon, Georgia in 1980. Dan, Trevette, Bryan, Lee Ann, Stephen and Rhonda are six adults who, in seventh grade, filled a trash can with time treasured relics and promised to return and unearth their treasure in 2000, but when they grew up and moved away, they lost touch with one another and their buried treasure. In 2009, Springdale's elementary gifted students located their treasure, studied its contents, compared popular culture then and now, located and celebrated the ones who were responsible for its existence. This inquiry draws upon a wide array of research on schooling and learning such as learning about learning (e.g. Schultz, 2010, Schwab 1978), de-schooling society (e.g. Illich, 1970) and mis-educative schooling, (e.g.Ayers, 2001, Illich, 1970, Freire, 1970, Giroux, 2003, Kohn, 1999, Pinar, 2004, Rose, 2009, Taubman, 2009, Weis & Fine, 2003) how popular culture impacts learning (e.g. Brown, 1987, Daspit, 2000, Giroux, 2003, Grossberg, 1989, Kincheloe, 2008, Pinar, 2006, Reynolds, 2006, Weaver & Daspit, 2000) joy of learning, (e.g. Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, Dewey, 1938, Liston, 2001, Luke, 2010, Goodlad, 1984, Rea, Millican, & Watson, 2000, Warner, 2006) how student apathy affects learning, (e.g. Coffield, 1981, Thompson, 2008, Walsh, 1981) liberative learning (e.g. Ayers, 2004, Ayers & Dohrn, 2009, 2 Schultz, 2008, Taubman, 2009) and the significance of place (e.g. Casemore, 2008, Pinar, 2004, Sack, 2001, Whitlock, 2007) as it relates to learning. I use Maxine Greene's (1978) concept of Landscape of Learning to conceptualize that learning is an aesthetic experience produced by a wide-awakeness when engaged with new ideas. Using a combination of oral history (e.g. Borland, 1998, Davis, 1991, Janesick, 2010, Perks & Thomson, 2006, Ritchie, 2003) and personal~passionate~participatory inquiry (He & Philion, 2008), I particularly ask the following questions: What kind of learning experiences can inspire learners to engage in active, meaningful, and worthwhile learning? What kind of learning experiences can inspire learners to work with teachers, parents, and the learning community in order to create inspiring learning milieus to cultivate a better human condition for all? This inquiry substantiates that engaging learning experience counters lessons that purpose to teach skills measured on standardized tests and performance standards imposed upon diverse learners. My inquiry illuminates that lived experiences contribute to meaningful learning and purposeful living. Popular culture nurtures joy of learning that promotes liberative and active learning. Emotional connections between teachers, students, and the learning content facilitate liberative learning. Nostalgia masks privileges, inequalities, and prejudices that continue to plague public schools. Standardization quantifies aesthetic and liberative aspects of learning and imprisons the mind. My study engenders a need for cultivating a landscape of learning that promotes engagement and empowerment where learners, teachers, educators, parents, community stakeholders, administrators, and policy makers work together to inspire all learners to reach "their highest potential" (Siddle-Walker, 1996).

Research Data and Supplementary Material