Curriculum as Contested 6891 Curriculum Studies University of Canberra Dr Neill Ustick
Overview of lecture <ul><li>Practical matters </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki work is now in week 2: document chosen, role assigned to group members, work started on each section AND in commen-ting on the work of others, major concerns emailed to me </li></ul><ul><li>Key lecture ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Different ideas and ideologies shape curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Their origin: different ways of knowing/thinking about the world; different educational purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Their effects: different goals, content, pedagogy, assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Using two sociological theories to understand these influences </li></ul>
Background point: Ideas about curriculum importance <ul><li>Institutions and people are intensely interested in curriculum; e.g., government (National goals, NAPLAN), business (Business Council of Australia), parents, students, teachers, universities – see Brady and Kennedy pp. 4-6. </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, they have questions, sometimes similar and sometimes competing ones, about its adequacy. </li></ul><ul><li>This unit has several foci. One is building an understanding of why curriculum is the way it is, so that we are positioned to use it well and to make the changes, individually and collectively, we deem necessary: curriculum workers who know how to think well. Today, we look at how ideas shape curriculum. </li></ul>
Why is curriculum the way it is? <ul><li>Addressing this question is taking up the first ACSA principle from week 1: “be informed by political, social, economic and historical analyses” . </li></ul><ul><li>We shall look at the question more in later weeks. </li></ul><ul><li>For now, we look at two examples, one a recent one from Australia and the other from 50 years ago in the US. </li></ul>
Example 1 Consider the following extract from a school website. What social and historical factors shape the statement? <ul><li>Year 7 Physical Education at M College, WA </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Year 7 Physical Education course expands and develops student’s [sic] prior knowledge and skill acquisition. It prepares students for sports that are valued at M College; e.g., Swimming, Hockey, Athletics, Softball, and Netball.” </li></ul>
Example 2 <ul><li>“ In this century, no two pieces of news so shocked America’s world view of itself as the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942 and, a mere 15 years later, the successful launching of the Soviet space craft on October 5, 1957. Each provoked an enormous national response, the one leading ultimately to the Allied victory in World War II and the other to U.S. dominance in space.” </li></ul><ul><li>Source: F. James Rutherford, American Association for the Advancement of Science Symposium, 1998 at http://www.nationalacademies.org/sputnik/ruther1.htm </li></ul>
“ Nationwide reform efforts in education followed both of these trials by fire ... the post-Sputnik concerns were curricular, focusing on what was being taught and how … Dissatisfaction with schools not only waxes and wanes, it is sometimes general and sometimes local, and it is often domain specific (reading and mathematics head the list …). It seems to take a crisis—not some general move to ‘get ahead of the curve’—to mobilize nationwide action.”
Certain conditions ( context , ideas ) Give rise to (shape) Particular kinds of Curriculum and Curriculum Documents How can we understand this shaping? Implementation in schools in ways that show varying degrees of understanding and resourcing “ We tried that and it didn’t work.” A “failed” project may be a result of poor implementation, not a poor project.
Certain ideas shape curriculum documents <ul><li>These ideas can be specific or quite broad. </li></ul><ul><li>Specific ideas can produce distinct developments; e.g., Fed govt NAPLAN program. What was the precipitating idea? </li></ul>From: projectreadsf.blogspot.com Account-ability Parents’ right to know Standards
Different ways of making sense of the world <ul><li>The world is a complex place and as humans we construct ideas to make sense of it. </li></ul><ul><li>There are many ideas that have been constructed. </li></ul><ul><li>Which of these ways of interpreting the world each of us employs is affected by several things: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We grow up in families that offer us their way of seeing the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We have particular backgrounds and experiences. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ewing summarises three approaches to making sense of the world – called ways of knowing -- discussed by Smith and Lovat (2003). </li></ul>
Three ways of knowing Conventional or technical ways of knowing: empirical-analytic Knowledge gained by observation or experimentation or by adopting accepted conventions Cooling water can freeze it. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter. In French, we say “bonjour” early in the day. Interpretive or communicative ways of knowing Knowledge gained by social interaction that uses language, e.g., writing, speaking You accurately paraphrase an idea in this lecture, using your own words. Self-reflective or critical ways of knowing Knowledge that comes from within, linked to personal experience The feeling you have when you hear your favourite song. The beliefs a teacher has about teaching and learning – these can be deepened by critical understanding of the forces shaping these beliefs.
Examples of how these three ways of knowing work out in the wiki Conventional or technical ways of knowing: empirical-analytic Knowledge gained by observation or experimentation or by adopting accepted conventions Writing in formal academic style. Gathering factual information about curriculum documents and their features. Interpretive or communicative ways of knowing Knowledge gained by social interaction that uses language, e.g., writing, speaking Learning from the comments of others on one’s own writing. Self-reflective or critical ways of knowing Knowledge that comes from within, linked to personal experience When an idea is challenged, reflecting on its value in light of the challenge and forming an amended view.
Certain ideas shape curriculum documents <ul><li>Ideas about educational purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Four Examples </li></ul><ul><li>1. “If the purpose of education is to promote human development through experience, then the starting point for curriculum work should be the identification of the capabilities that people need, individually and collectively, to live productive and enriching lives in the 21st century” (Reid, 2005, p. 53). </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/662870A8-BA7B-4F23-BD08-DE99A7BFF41A/2650/report1.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>2. Education Queensland’s “New Basics” </li></ul><ul><li>Core value: developing active, critical citizenship </li></ul><ul><li>Pinar ( What is curriculum theory?, p. 196) discusses curriculum as complicated conversation , guiding students’ entry into intellectually-engaged discussion. Such discussion is essential for critical citizenship. </li></ul>
Active, critical citizenship <ul><li>New Basics: “There are four New Basics organisers and they have an explicit orientation towards researching, understanding, and coming to grips with the new economic, cultural and social conditions. These four clusters of practice are deemed to be essential for lifelong learning by the individual, for social cohesion, and for economic wellbeing, as described in Queensland State Education 2010 (QSE 2010), which was published by Education Queensland in 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>As curriculum organisers, the New Basics will help schools, teachers and curriculum planners to move beyond a defence of status quo knowledges to a critical engagement with the ongoing change that characterises new times. The New Basics are predicated on the existence of mindful schools, where intellectual engagement and connectedness to the real world are constant foci.” </li></ul><ul><li>Education as an antidote to the diseases of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Narrow mindedness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tunnel vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prejudice and discrimination, e.g., racism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Education as fostering the learning of dispositions and capacities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To make, and act upon, informed judgments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To embrace and learn from diversity </li></ul></ul>
New Basics: “Schooling was founded on the development of students as worthwhile and contributing citizens. Producing active citizens remains a specific goal of schooling-whether the active citizens are compliant members of an assumed social order, participants within given social structures, or active agents of social change. This approach involves students in the reinvigoration of valued social practices and civic institutions through exercising their democratic rights and responsibilities. In recent times, there has been increased advocacy for the importance of preparing students to play a more active role in society. This view of citizenship suggests that schools engage students in active participation in social, political and economic issues in communities, as well as in their school life and studies. Communities take on a different perspective when viewed not merely as physical spaces with clearly defined boundaries but as a series of interacting, intersecting social relationships and groupings. Important social changes and issues may have local impacts, but also reflect global dynamics. The power of communications technology in redefining what were once reasonably static and defined boundaries has to be acknowledged in this context. For example, the online economy is changing patterns of consumption, production and delivery of goods and services. It has created new industries based on products and services especially designed to exploit these opportunities. Also, the election of governments, the fall of political regimes, and the gruesome details of war are portrayed in our homes on tiny screens every day. Young people need help in understanding the significance of these events and some criteria for evaluating them.”
Example 3 of educational purposes The new Australian Curriculum Stated Purposes of Australian Curriculum Links to Preston & Symes’ account The Australian Curriculum describes a learning entitlement for each Australian student that provides a foundation for successful, lifelong learning and participation in the Australian community. It acknowledges that the needs and interests of students will vary, and that schools and teachers will plan from the curriculum in ways that respond to those needs and interests. The Australian Curriculum acknowledges the changing ways in which young people will learn and the challenges that will continue to shape their learning in the future.
A framework: 4 perspectives on education (Preston & Symes (1997) Schools and Classrooms (2 nd ed.) ) Liberal Traditional knowledge (classical, core disciplines) matters most. Progressive Children’s unfolding development is central. Utilitarian Schools should prepare people for future work, to contribute to the economy. Emancipatory Education equips for a freer life and for active, critical citizenship.
Example 4 of educational purposes <ul><li>Schools perform a sifting and sorting role </li></ul><ul><li>Essentially an economic function : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The economy needs a variety of workers, across a range of skill/ability levels and aspirations (e.g., high status doctors, lawyers, bankers to lower status clerks, shop assistants, garbage collectors, cleaners) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Final year school exams produce results across a “normal” curve, allowing high performers to access higher education and moving others elsewhere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Justification: Assumes exams measure ability and that ability is distributed as per the curve </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some (e.g., Connell) have written about the “ competitive academic curriculum ” (CAC) </li></ul>
Certain ideas also shape curriculum documents <ul><li>Ideas about pedagogy </li></ul><ul><li>“ Newmann argues that schools should engage students in general forms of cognitive work found in the adult world, and that the skills and knowledge required should be honed by guided practice in conversation and writing.” </li></ul><ul><li>The NSW quality teaching framework implements this in its three dimensions of pedagogy : </li></ul><ul><li>Intellectual quality: deep understanding of key concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Quality learning environment: supports learning, with clear expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Significance: meaningful, life-connected learning </li></ul><ul><li>References: E-Reserve NSW Quality Teaching Model (QTM) </li></ul>
Intellectual quality Deep knowledge Deep understanding Problematic knowledge Higher order thinking Metalanguage Substantive communication Significance Background knowledge Cultural knowledge Knowledge integration Inclusivity Connectedness Narrative Quality learning environment Explicit quality criteria Engagement High expectations Social support Student self-regulation Student direction
Certain ideas also shape curriculum documents <ul><li>Ideas about the economy and society </li></ul><ul><li>Example </li></ul><ul><li>Mid-1980s on, educating for a “clever country” </li></ul><ul><li>– see comment in Tinning and McCuaig (2006): </li></ul><ul><li>“ in which future citizens are lifelong learners, multi-skilled, competent with information technology, literate, numerate and able to speak a language other than English in order to play a productive part in a globalised economy” </li></ul>
Certain ideas also shape curriculum documents <ul><li>Ideas about the economy and society </li></ul><ul><li>Reference: The Apple reading on E-Reserve. </li></ul><ul><li>Governments in the Western world have operated for around 25 years with a mixture of three major ideas: </li></ul><ul><li>Economic rationalism = seeing society as an economy that needs logical control by expert managers who ensure subordinates are accountable </li></ul><ul><li>Neoliberalism = believing in the “free market” and minimal state intervention </li></ul><ul><li>Neoconservatism = has various forms, including favouring monoculture, individual freedom and traditional views of “the family” and “marriage” as sources of national stability </li></ul>
For reflection <ul><li>Although different, what do these three ideas have in common? </li></ul><ul><li>What impacts do they have on education and schooling, e.g., on the arguments for publishing NAPLAN results? </li></ul>
Ways of understanding the shaping of curriculum documents <ul><li>Common sense, non-critical </li></ul><ul><li>“ We need to update curriculum.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ We need to improve standards, back to what they were when I was at school.” </li></ul><ul><li>Probing, critical (sociological perspectives) </li></ul><ul><li>What interest groups are involved? </li></ul><ul><li>What discourses are operating? </li></ul>Critical theory Poststructuralist theory
Critical theory applied to curriculum Whose interests shape the teaching of music? <ul><li>How important in the school curriculum is music and the arts? Who decides? </li></ul><ul><li>Where they do occur, what sort/s of music and the arts are incorporated in primary, lower secondary school curricula? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the basis for making the above curriculum decisions? </li></ul><ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>National review of school music education (2005) at http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/C9AFAE54-6D72-44CC-A346-3CAF235CB268/8944/music_review_reportFINAL.pdf </li></ul>
Poststructuralist theory applied to curriculum What ideas shape the teaching of PE and Art? <ul><li>“ The conventional hierarchical order of knowledge – practical knowledge is of less value – and the orthodoxy that physical activity involves little cognition” (Leitch & Macdonald, 1993). </li></ul><ul><li>“ The stereotype that PE/sport in Australia is the province of white, able-bodied males ” </li></ul><ul><li>The Tinning and McCuaig book (see reference list in Unit Outline) is an excellent example of detecting and critiquing the underlying discourses (military, sporting, health) shaping HPE curriculum. </li></ul>
Example: Year 11/12 Art <ul><li>Berger (1972) comments on the portrayal of the nude in classical European painting, arguing that the women are portrayed as passive objects who are there for the male observer ... “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reference: Van Krieken, R., et al. (2006). Sociology: Themes and perspectives , p. 7. </li></ul><ul><li>Question: How might a Year 11/12 Art course help students understand this cultural pressure and its effects on women (and men)? </li></ul>
Certain conditions ( context , ideas* ) Give rise to (shape) Particular kinds of Curriculum and Curriculum Documents <ul><li>How can we understand this shaping? </li></ul><ul><li>Using </li></ul><ul><li>critical theory </li></ul><ul><li>poststructuralist theory </li></ul>* Ideas about educational purpose, pedagogy, the economy and society (how people are to relate to society) Next week Understanding students: Student development, identity, learning