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The idea of a common curriculum is best grasped by contrast with differentiated, selective, or alternative curricula. Generally, differentiated curricula are grounded in the contingent personal, social, or other local circumstances of learners. Perhaps, the most famous defense of a selective or differentiated curriculum is to be found in Plato’s Republic, where this philosopher distinguishes between persons of gold, silver, and bronze who are fitted by natural ability— and correspondingly appropriate education—to be, respectively, the ruling legislators (guardians), the administrators (auxiliaries), and the ruled workers of his ideal society. A well-known advocate for a common curriculum, on the other hand, was Mortimer Adler in the United States, who argued in the 1980s that the best education for the “best” in society was the best education ...

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