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Curriculum for the future kress


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Curriculum for the future kress

  1. 1. Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2000 133A Curriculum for the FutureGUN THER KRESSInstitute of Education, University of London, London, UKA BSTRACT The paper argues that the changes in the social and economic circum stanceswhich characterise the present period, make it essential to rethink the relation of curriculum, itspurposes and shapes, to the social and economic environment of the near future. It offers someevidence of such change and its causes, even at the moment, and asks questions about essentialcharacteristics of educational agendas in the near future. In particular, it argues that where theprevious era had required an education for stability, the com ing era requires an education forinstability. The question then arises as to what the characteristics of curricula and pedagogiesfor instability are, and what dispositions for those who experience education are imagined andaimed for. It concludes with som e comments on a curriculum of communication, in whichfacility with design has superseded com petence in use, and where the broad social and culturalenvironment is one where identity is de® ned through a relation to consumption, where allcom modities have taken on sem iotic function so that the question of aesthetics (as the politicsof style in all domains) is again in the forefront of concerns in the curriculum of com munication.INTROD UCTIONIn this paper I will brie¯ y outline some thoughts on a curriculum for the future.I address the question of the present curriculum, largely inherited from the 19thcentury, the disintegration of the fram es which had given it its shape andpurposes and then m ove on to ask about the broad outline characteristics ofcurricula relevant for the near future. In particular, I suggest that the presentlyexisting curriculum still assum es that it is educating young people into olderdispositions, whereas the com ing era dem ands an education for instability. Iconclude with a brief sketch of how this m ight look in relation to a speci® ccurriculum subject area, English. In periods of relative social and economic stability it is possible to see thecurriculum as a m eans for cultural reproduction: as a process whereby values,skills and knowledges are m ade availab le to enable the young to m ake them -selves in the im age of their culture. The period from the m iddle of the lastcentury to the middle of this can be seen as one such period, despite thecataclysmic events that have characterised it. In im portant ways, the socialm ores, cultural values, form s of the econom y and the social organisations of1955 had m ore af® nity with those of 1855 than they have with those of 1995.It is possible to see, with hindsight, that from about the m id 1950s on, theinevitable, constant, gradual changes which m arked the preceding 100 yearsbegan to act together, producing change at an increasing pace, so that by theend of our m illenium m any of the signi® cant, taken for granted features of that0305-764X /00/010133-13 Ó 2000 University of C ambridge School of Education
  2. 2. 134 G. Kressprevious period are now (nearly) swept away, are under challenge or com ing tobe changed out of recognition. `Reproduction’ is no longer a plausible m etaphor for institutional educationand its curricula. W hen tomorrow is unlikely to be like today and when the dayafter tom orrow is de® nitely going to be unlike yesterday, curricular aim s andguiding m etaphors have to be reset. The m etaphor that I have chosen for m yself,for som e tim e now (K ress, 1995), is that of `design’ : curriculum as a design forthe future. That then leaves the task of attem pting to establish as securely as onem ight what the outlines of that future are likely to be like, in order to begin tothink about the shapes of a curriculum for that future. What remains constantis the fundam ental aim of all serious education: to provide those skills, knowl-edges, aptitudes and dispositions which would allow the young who are experi-encing that curriculum to lead productive lives in the societies of their adultperiods.THE AGE ND AS OF EDU CATION IN THE CU RREN T PERIOD AN D INTHE NE AR FUTU REIt is clear to any dispassionate bystander that institutional education is in deepcrisis, and not only because politicians, m edia pundits and gurus of various sortstell us that it is so. By and large, the curricula of the school in `W estern’societiesÐ not all, not everywhere, but m ostÐ rem ain the curricula of the 19thcentury school. That curriculum had developed to serve the needs of the 19thcentury nation stateÐ with its desire for a hom ogeneously conceived citizen forthat state, a citizen who was `French’ or `G erm an’ or `British’ , and the need fora labour force and the professionsÐ of the econom y of that state. The school’ stask was to produce both and, by and large, it m anaged to perform that task wellenough. This environm ent had provided strong fram ings of values and ofknowledges, framings which had becom e relatively invisible. N ow, in the presentperiod of radical instability, the form er fram ings are becom ing visible, particu-larly in the absence of new fram ings, for the m om ent at any rate. What is clear is that the new circumstances dem and a response: new goalsand new curricula which are appropriate to these new goals. It is becom ingpossible now both to see the dissolution, the break-up, of the form er fram ingsand tentatively, hazily, the em ergence of new con® gurations of fram es. Thelatter are unlikely to be stable for a considerable period to com e, but what thereis m ay be useful as indicators of directions in which `things’ are m oving. Toshow, concretely, the processes of the dissolution of form er fram es and theem ergence of new fram ings, I will brie¯ y consider an innocuous but real text,reproduced below. It ¯ uttered through the letterbox of our house in NorthL ondon early in June 1998. In its less than 200 words it encapsulates m ost of the criterial features of thecurrent environment for education and it exhibits the dissolution of the fram eswhich had held institutional education, its values, knowledge, authority andpurposes, in a relatively stable state for m ost of the preceding 100 years. To
  3. 3. A Curriculum for the Future 135 Islington Summer University In partnership with Islington Play & Youth Service1st June 98Dear Parent/Guardian,This summ er Islington’s Play & Youth Service in partnership with the University of North Londonare organising and running a Summ er U niversity. The programm e will run from 17th to 21st and24th to 28th August 98 inclusive.The University is targeting two groups of young people:-1. Those young people who are m oving from Prim ary to Secondary school in September, (which is why you are in receipt of this letter.)2. Those young people who are taking their GCSEs in spring 99.The Venues:- University of North London, Holloway Road. Islington Boat Club, Graham Street. J.V.C . Centre, Arsenal Stadium, Avenell Road. E.C.1. Music Project, White Cross Street.All onsite courses are FREE, however at this point the program me has not been ® nalised but thefollowing activities will de® nitely be included:-Rap & Scratch courses Making m usic through computersDance Dram aM aths G CSE revision ArtW omens football Vocals/singing classesFabric painting SailingC anoeing Discussion groupsAfrican dance & drumm ing Music technology & recording skillsC omputer courses, beginners through to introduction to the internet AND MANY MOREEXCITIN G CO URSESPlease discuss with your child if she/he would like to attend. If they do please complete and returnthe attached form to ensure a program me and enrolment form are forwarded to you once the detailshave been ® nalised.Yours sincerelySteve Clarke F IG . 1. Islington Summ er U niversity.draw out just som e of these fram es, brie¯ y and without detailed debate, thereare: (a) the fram e around the institution of education itself; (b) the fram earound the site of education; (c) the fram e around the tim e of education; (d) thefram e around the educational audience; (e) the fram e around educationalknowledge; (f) the fram ing between education-as-work and education-as-
  4. 4. 136 G. Kresspleasure; (g) the fram e between state and m arket; (h) the fram e aroundlocations of authority. There m ay be others, but these will serve to m ake thepoints which I wish to m ake. (a) The fram e which is dissolved here is that between one speci® c type of educational institution, the university, and local governm ent in the shape of its am enities departm ent, `the Play and Youth Service’ of a local authority. The causes of this dissolution, as of all the others, are com plex (and usually interconnected with the others). This university is, I assum e, responding to a num ber of factors: for instance a felt or expressed need to integrate itself m ore with the `local com m unity’ . This itself has two market-driven origins, one being a kind of `accountability’ to the com m unity in its guise as `taxpaye rs’ ; the other being m ore directly linked to the m arket, nam ely a felt need to build its local clientele, to entrench itself in and to capture its local `m arket’ . This itself is a consequence of a decline in direct governm ent support, which m eans that the university has to operate as an institution in and of the m arket. (b) U ntil quite recently institutionalised education was tied to and identi® ed with its `own’ geographical site, a cam pus, a building or sets of buildings. These buildings were dedicated educational buildings: for instance, they would (and still do to a large extent) stand em pty in vacation tim e. Here the university has decided not only to locate its courses off site, but to choose sites (with one exception) associated with everyday and decidedly non-educational activities. In fact this shift is m etaphorically/ideologically highly potent: it is a m ove from (sites of) education to (sites of) leisure; a change in relation between institution and com m unity, from m aking the com munity `com e to you’ , to going out to the com munity. (c) These courses are offered outside the school year and the university term . It is thus a weakening of the tem poral fram e of education. As such the weakening of this fram e can be seen as the extension both of the university and of the school year and as the extension of learning tim e as such (i.e. of organised/institutionally controlled tim e dedicated to education for young people). This is in line with current slogans about `life-long’ learning. (d) The offer m ade here by the Sum mer U niversity abolishes the tem poral/ developm ental fram ings between the hitherto ® rm ly bounded/fram ed sectors of education: between prim ary, secondary and tertiary edu- cation. The lea¯ et appeals to young people in their transitional period between prim ary and secondary school and equally to those in the latter years of secondary schooling. Inviting them to attend courses at a `university’ abolishes all these fram es. Of course, this has its very real causes: again, notions of life-long learning, the need to develop an `audience’ and a m arket. Its effect is nevertheless to m ake a form erly
  5. 5. A Curriculum for the Future 137 stable system radically unstable and to m ake form erly ® xed boundaries ¯ uid.(e) E qually, the fram ings around what counts as educational knowledge are here unmade: for the university and its curricula as m uch as for the secondary (and even the prim ary) school. This blurs or abolishes quite decisively the boundary between knowledge sanctioned in educational institutions and the knowledge of the everyday. In effect, it undoes a boundary between sacred (or at least the `revered’ ) and profane (or at least everyday) form s of knowledge(f) The dissolution of the fram e around educational tim e proceeds under the banner of education-as-leisure, and in that it has a long tradition, a long antecedent, certainly of 20 or so years in the shape of hobby courses, etc. But the fact that this U niversity is offering these courses will have a reciprocal effect on what the university does and will do: it is m aking a promise (of course already frequently repeated in the m ore recent marketing of universitiesÐ one university situated in L ondon advertised itself, som e while ago, as being only `40 m inutes from L ondon’ s exciting W est End’ ) that learning is fun, that the knowledge which it offers, is fun, that `doing a course’ at university is like leisure tim e activity m ore than like work tim e activity.(g) As m entioned, all or m ost of these are in som e way related to changing relations between the state and the m arket. This is latently there in this university’ s appeal to a `client base’ ; in the changed relation of work, leisure and pleasure. In this text it appears overtly in the statem ent that `All onsite courses are FRE E’ , an appeal which both invokes a prior period when education was free and a statem ent evoked by the present situation where it no longer is and where, as with other com m odities, som e educational com m odities are offered for free as a m arketing ploy.(h) L astly, the fram ing (location) of authority. The activities offered by the Islington Summ er U niversity are not just free, they are not obligatory: you attend them if `you would like to attend’ . You, as an adult, are asked to `please discuss with your child’ ¼ ; and `if they do’ , you are asked to com plete the form . This is not the authority relation nor the authority location of the traditional school (or university, which until very recently stood in loco parentis . This is not the authority which had supported the regulative discourse of Bernstein’ s schem a). Power has decidedly shifted to the learner, who is now conceived of as a con- sumer/client and not, as before, as a `pupil’ or `student’ . The m ove to relations of consumption is of course of one piece with the relations which properly obtain in the m arket. Authority relations in the school as an institution of the m arket are deeply different to those of the traditional school, which stood in place of the state and its relation to its subjects (or citizens). If there is regulation here, its source of authority is not as before.
  6. 6. 138 G. Kress Several fram es which are not m entioned, invoked or m ore or less directlyim plied here are nevertheless causally involved: they are the fram es of theglobalisation of ® nance capital; the changing fram es of transport, whether ofphysical entities (com m odities and people) or of inform ation (though the latteris directly m entioned); and the changing fram es of a society being transform edwilly-nilly from a conception of a hom ogeneously m onocultural society to adecisively pluricultural one. All of these are having the profoundest effects on what education canplausibly be (as on what it can no longer plausibly be) and what new concep-tions can, need and should be developed. The dem ands of the nation state andof its econom y had provided an overarching fram e of coherence through itsauthority and its needs. This fram e is becom ing less availab le as a stable pointof reference and is being replaced by far less stable, less predictable contingen-cies and requirements. The relative stabilities of the class societies of industri-alised states, with their econom ies founded on industrial m ass production, arebeing replaced, or at the very least overlaid, by the highly ¯ uid arrangements oflifestyle groupings. The dem ands generated in this new arrangem ent are diverseand the new curricula consequently have no im m ediately availab le, secure basisfor broadly integrative principles of coherence. If before the present period the education system s of industrial nations hadthe task of educating a population for stability, the new arrangem ents seem todem and an education for a period of ¯ uidity, for instability. What are thefeatures of an education for instability? This of course touches decisively on thequestion of identity and its relations to pedagogy and knowledge. In all this I have not m entioned the issue which for m e is central, nam elythat of the changing landscapes of representation and com m unication. It is thiswhich both has the m ost radically transformative effects on knowledge and tiesin m ost directly to the new form s of the economy. Associated with this are thenew m edia of com m unication and, in particular, a shift (parallelling all thosealready discussed) from the era of m ass com m unication to the era of individu-ated com m unication, a shift from unidirectional com m unication, from a power-ful source at the centre to the m ass, to m ultidirectional com m unication fromm any directions/locations, a shift from the `passive audience’ (however ideologi-cal that notion had always been) to the interactive audience. All these havedirect and profound consequences on the plausible and the necessary form s ofeducation for now and for the near future.E DU CATION FOR IN STABILITYThe changes in the environm ents in education are m aking new dem ands oneducation, demands to which institutional education, in its form as school oruniversity, has barely begun to respond. The new dem ands are at bottomdem ands for a different kind of social subject. The social subject educated, inm y som ewhat pessim istic phrase, for an era of social and econom ic instability isdeeply different to the social subject of the preceding era: a citizen/worker/
  7. 7. A Curriculum for the Future 139professional who was educated toward the stabilities of well-de® ned citizenshipor equally stable subjectivities as a participant in stable econom ies. There is ofcourse a positive way of expressing `instability’ and a positive response to suchdem ands, and that is to invoke notions such as creativity, innovativeness,adaptability, ease with difference and com fortableness with change. These willform the bedrock values in m y own educational vision (in m y idea of educationfor utopia). In the m eantim e, however, the stable environm ental arrangem ents of theform er period have com e asunder: the hom ologies between the purposes of thenation state and the values of the school, the needs of the econom y and theform s of knowledge and pedagogic practices of the school and the values of theschool and the values of the m edia, all these have com e adrift. One m eans ofassessing this is to look at `lifeworlds’ : the m anner in which socio-culturalgroups arrange (or have arranged for them !) vastly webbed system s of practices,values, objects and m eanings. To speak too generally, it is possible to say,nevertheless, that the sets of arrangem ents around speci® c form s of workprovided by and characteristic of the econom ies of the Fordist eraÐ tightboundaries of hierarchy, tightly classi® ed, highly segm ented and closely en-forced work practices (whether of trade or profession)Ð were expressed incultural term s as high valuations of well-understood traditions, high valuationsof loyalty, dependability, expertise in a speci® c or even narrow range, and so on. Work and its lifeworld, itself an effect of forms of the economy, produced`leisure’ Ð that tim e which was left over from work (for those whose work wasde® ned by the form al econom y; for those who were outside that, `leisure’ usuallydid not exist). The structuring of leisure was largely hom ologous with that ofwork, even if at tim es by a negation or inversion. But work also produced, in anot too highly mediated form , the structures of the school, as has been pointedout before, for instance in E.P. Thom pson’ s de® nitive The Making of the EnglishWorking Class. Whether as the organisation of tim e in accordance with therhythm s of the working day, the structurings of authority relations (as relationsto knowledge), the shape and content of the curriculum itself or in theinculcations of clear value system s, the school stood in a closely hom ologousrelation to work and to the econom y m ore broadly. So what are the essential features of this world and how can a newcurriculum hope to respond to them ? Stability has been, or will be, replaced byinstability. L ocality will becom e `virtual’ : knowledge, with the new ICTs, is orwill be accessible anywhere. It no longer needs either the site of the school orof the library. The world of com m unication is m ultim odal, no longer reliant onlanguage-as-speech or on language-as-writing alone. The social world is nolonger m onocultural; the econom ic world has m oved from the era of m assproduction to the era of niche production, with its different requirem ents(innovative, changing, individuated), and to the world of an econom y of servicesand inform ation. The curriculum which was serviceable for that form er world and the socialand m aterial organisations and structures built around it will no longer suf® ce.
  8. 8. 140 G. KressW hat is required is a thoroughgoing review of what the features of this newworld are likely to be and what curricular and pedagogic responses are likely tobe possible and m ost useful. The curriculum of the m ost recent past, and stillpresent in schools, had a particular orientation to knowledge and was marked byparticular selections of knowledge. K nowledge was `there’ , produced elsewhere,authoritative and to be acquired. Its presence in the curriculum was justi® ed byits relevance in and for `the world’ . Science m ade availab le a speci® c take on thenatural world, nam ely that that which was invisible in the world could be m adevisible in `laws’ ; English provided access to that which was regarded as theaesthetically outstanding in the dom ain of literature, and m uch else besides;M athem atics and its allies showed that the world of disorder could be broughtto order by high level abstraction and regularity. Art provided m eans ofrecording that which was judged salient via conventionalised representationalpractices. And so on. Underpinning this curriculum were, of course, notions of social orderwhich them selves appeared as givens in curriculum and in pedagogy: attitudesto authority and notions of individual agency (or the lim itations on or ofagency). And these notions appeared in theories and approaches to teaching andlearning: teaching as transm ission, learning as acquisition. In that structurelearning was not a dom ain of individual creative agency; individual agency aswork of acquistion, yes, individual agency as reshaping, no. `To learn’ was notsupposed to m ean `to change’ : authority relations attem pted to guarantee theunchanged replication of knowledge in learning. The link between the schoolsubjects, on the one hand, and work and professions, on the other, was alsoclear: theoretical elaboration for those who went beyond the years of com pulsoryschooling, practical training for those whose trajectories would take them intothe world of m anual, physical labour. Econom ies founded on services and inform ation do not (necessarily) needthe knowledge of the subjects of the older curriculum . Instead of attitudesand dispositions to ® xed knowledge, both the econom y of services and theeconom y of inform ation dem and the ability to design: to design objects(whether as texts or as com m odity of any kind) and to design processes (whetherin entertainm ent, in business or in education). The ability to design, an aptitudein using the resources available for m aking (whether the m aking of representa-tions for com m unication or the m aking of objects for consum ption) differsfundam entally from the aptitudes and dispositions previously needed, prizedand rewarded. `Design’ rests on agency; it takes agency for granted, still as work, but nolonger as acquisition but now de® nitely as `shaping work’ . In this, designproceeds on the basis of a full knowledge of the resources available to thedesigner and the capacity of the designer to assem ble these m aterials intodesigns expressing her/his intentions and interests in relation to particulardem ands. This suggests a very different curriculum, a very different pedagogy and afundam entally different notion of learning. It sees the learner as fully agentive,
  9. 9. A Curriculum for the Future 141as becom ing fully aware of the potentials, capacities and affordances of them aterials to be used in the designs. It sees design as the m aking of signs(whatever the materiality in which they appear: m aterial/three-dimensional,spoken/tem poral, written/two-dim ensional) whether in the science classroom , inE nglish or in art. Of course, this is a fundam ental realignm ent of the curriculum :a realignm ent from a curriculum focused on knowledge as a stable, even ifcom plex, `entity’ , to a curriculum focused on uses of knowledge-as-inform ationin relation to speci® c dom ains of application. `Design’ as a central category of the school curriculum and as a goal of itspurposes places the student-as-learner very differently to the place he or sheoccupied in the traditional curriculum. There com petence in relation to the`m aking’ of knowledge was central, and `learning’ was seen in the light of that.D esign m akes the learner agentive in relation to her/his interests in a speci® cenvironm ent and in relation to the resources available for the production of thatdesign. He or she is transform ative, creative and innovative. Design asks forproduction of the new rather than replication of the old. Thus putting `design’at the centre of the curriculum and of its purposes is to rede® ne the goal ofeducation as the m aking of individual dispositions oriented towards innovation,creativity, transformation and change. In m y view these are the dispositionswhich will be essential to m eet the dem ands of the new form s of the econom yand of the now culturally plural societies and the conditions of globalisingcapital. They are also, som ewhat paradoxically, dispositions which would in anycase recognise the real potentials of hum ans as always creative, always innova-tive, always transform ative. Let m e m ake one last point here before I discuss, brie¯ y and very generally,what this m ight look like in relation to a curriculum subject such as E nglish.That point concerns the effects of globalisation of capital on the curriculum .The curriculum has always had a m ore or less direct relation to the econom y.The globalisation of ® nance capital m eans that the conditions of labour arebecom ing globally uniform, and any curriculum has to be designed with that inview. If som eone seeks work in a sector of the econom y which has becom eglobalised (say in working for a transnational com pany) then it is the conditionsof the global econom y which will m ake their dem ands on the curriculum . At the`lower end’ of the em ploym ent scale, the exporting and im porting of jobs m eansthat the conditions of and dem ands m ade of labour in any one locality on theglobe in effect becom e the conditions and dem ands of labour everywhere. Thecurriculum in any locality will have to be attuned to these global dem ands; whatis taught and how it is taught will need to take the globe not just as the relevantbut as the necessary dom ain of thinking and practice. Of course, there arealways local in¯ ections: the `global’ appears in Corsica and in Bangladesh andit is transformed by Corsicans and Bangladeshis in the environm ent of localhistories, values, dispositions and contingencies. And of course, as a reciprocaleffect of globalisation there will be (the possibility of) a newly intense concernwith the local. W ithin the E uropean U nion this is m anifesting itself in the formof the (re)em ergence of regions and nations, whether the Toscana or Burgundy
  10. 10. 142 G. Kressor Scotland. That too will have to be accom m odated in the curriculum of thefuture.A N EW CURRICUL UM OF COMM UN ICATIONThe new requirements m ade by globalisation of education and its curricula arethe basis of the work of the New L ondon G roup and its work on `M ultilitera-cies’ (N ew London G roup, 1996). Here I will brie¯ y sketch just som e of thefeatures of the curriculum that would take the place of the E nglish curriculumin England. For m e it is clear that, whatever it m ight be called, and for the tim ebeing the nam e and label English is perhaps the one that needs to stay, this hasto be a full, rich curriculum of com m unication. To discuss that I will use thenotions of `m ultiliteracy’ and of `com m unicational webs’ . As responsibility foreducation shifts from the state to the m arket, a whole new set of questions arisesaround values and ethics, and I will m ake a com m ent on that, in relation to thecategories of style and aesthetics as essential underpinnings of the purposes ofa curriculum of com m unication. The term `m ultiliteracies’ was coined by m em bers of the New L ondonG roup (1996) (N ew London after the town in N ew Ham pshire where the groupheld its ® rst m eeting). It is a term which attem pts to capture and recognize them ultiple form s, the m ultiple sites and the m ultiple purposes of com m unication,to show them in their social/cultural environments, link them to the dem ands ofthe society and its econom y and to show them as the effects of the agentive,creative, transform ative, designing action of individuals com m unicating in theirsocial lives. A focus on m ultiliteracies at once m oves away from concern withlanguage alone, whether as speech or as writing, and focuses instead on theensem bles of com m unicational m odes which are in use in a particular situation,on a particular occasion of com m unication, and on the shaping/designing actionof those producing their com m unicational ensem ble, and on their purposes.This approach does not privilege any one of the m odes of representation whichare in use, but rather focuses on what goes on and on the purposes of what isgoing on. This rhetorical approach of course has to be attuned to the effects ofpower in com m unication. It is also the necessary approach in culturally pluralsettings: by focusing on what actually goes on and why, by not privileging im ageover language or gesture over sound or action over a three-dim ensional model,it is an approach which is, potentially at least, culturally `open’ : it is open to thevarying com m unicational practices of any group. `Design’ is central to this approach, i.e. the recognition that in all com -m unication we work with culturally already shaped m aterial (as `sem ioticm odes’ with gram m ars: writing, im age, gesture, speech, m usic) but in workingwith these m aterials constantly reshape them , remake them , in line with thecharacteristics of our designs. In this way the approach puts forward a quitenew, radically different theory of m eaning, of sem iosis, in which the individualis always shaping (the etym ology of the word points to both `creating’ and to`work’ , both present in the G erman word `schaffen’ ) and never sim ply `using’ ,
  11. 11. A Curriculum for the Future 143as in `language users’ . This provides the necessary theory of m eaning and oflearning for the new curriculum of com m unication, and indeed for othercurricula as well. Multim odality is a given in the Multiliteracies approach; the task then is touncover, describe and theorise what the different m odes are which appear incom m unication and what m eaning potentials they m ake available to those whointegrate them and draw on them in their designs. (Som e work is now availableon this; see for instance K ress & van L eeuwen, 1996; van Leeuwen, 1999;K ress, 1999). Designs speak of choices: choices which re¯ ect the interests oftheir designer, choices of m ode: `I will represent and com m unicate this elementor these elem ents in im age, these elem ents in writing, to produce this ensem ble’ .Choice is action which represents the interests of the chooser (or the constraintsunder which the chooser chooses). In a society in which the state has begun tolose (or cede) power to the m arket, choice in any case becom es the criterialprinciple of action. In the 19th century nation state, with its clear (even if oftennot clearly, overtly, articulated) value system s, choice was not the issue, andoften hardly possible. The taken-for-grantedness of social form s had m ade themseem natural and, hence not am enable to choice and to change through choice.Adaptation to, ® tting into, the structures of the society supported by the statewas the required disposition, m irrored, of course, in so m any ways by thecurriculum of that era (and present still, as I said earlier, in so m any ways, inthe backward looking and backward m oving curriculum of today). Now com m unication happens in new com m unicational webs. The 12 yearold boy who spends m uch of his leisure tim e either by him self or with friendsin front of a playstation, lives in a com m unicational web structured by a varietyof m edia of com m unication and of m odes of com m unication. In that, the`screen’ m ay be becom ing dom inant, whether that of the TV or of the PC, andm ay be com ing to restructure the `page’ . The visual m ode m ay be com ing tohave priority over the written, while language-as-speech has new functions inrelation to all of these. The m edia in this web would be TV, PC, playstation,m agazine, book, talk and Internet web sites. The m odes of com m unicationwould be, probably dom inantly, im age, then writing, then talk. In contrast, the12 year old’ s 10 year old sister is likely to live in a quite differently structuredcom m unicational web; yes TV and PC ® gure, but quite differently. Instead ofthe books on science ® ction (derived from playstation gam es) or books on gam esthem selves, there m ight be much m ore conventional narratives, and them agazines m ight be absent. Talk would ® gure m ore prom inently, as would playof a self-initiated kind. The comm unicational webs of school and beyond school would also differ,m ore so for the 12 year old than for his sister. The notion of the `com m unica-tional web’ would allow us to look at sites of work and sites of leisure and at the® t or lack of it between the school and the world beyond the school. That would allow the new curriculum to (re)connect with the world of its dom ain. The state’ s purpose for the education system was to produce citizens and the requisite labour force for its econom y. The dem ands of the market are to
  12. 12. 144 G. Kressproduce consumers, ® rst and forem ost, and perhaps a labour force for itseconom ies, though that aim is a m uch m ore diffuse one for the m arket. Thestructures of the nation state and of its econom y had provided the m eans ofconstructing identities for individuals, via their place in its structures: `I amworking class’ , `I am an academ ic’ , `I am a welder’ , `I am ¼ ’ , etc. The m arketprovides for those who have the m eans to participate, the possibility of identitym aking via choice-in-consumption: `we prefer French brie’ , `I like wearing Gapclothes’ , `we always buy a French car’ . The still active realities of `class’ give wayin this environm ent to the m etaphor of `lifestyle’ , and lifestyle is constructed outof the work of choice in the m arket of com m odities (those who cannotparticipate in consumption in the m arket cease to m atter, for the m arket at anyrate). Choice-in-consum ption is the expression of the individual’ s interest(shaped, of course, in the environm ent of the society and its m arket) andbecom es the expression of an individual aesthetic (shaped, of course, and m etby the aesthetic of the m arket). Style-as-aesthetics is now the condition of all ofthose in consum er capitalism who are not excluded from consum ption. That hasm oved the dom ain of aesthetics from its reference to the objects of the elite toall practices of the everyday. Com m unication is no exception: the look of thenewspaper which I read relates to the look of the supermarket that I shop in andthat relates to the clothes that I wear to go to work in or for leisure, etc. Texts,whether linguistic or linguistic and visual or musical, texts of every kind andcertainly not just the texts of the canon of the elite, are entirely related toconsum ption of com modities of all kinds. Contem porary school textbooks, inE ngland as around the globe, are also subject to the sam e aesthetic dem ands. Which school subject is likely to deal with this as an issue, both as an issueof preparing the young appropriately for their societies and as an issue of m akingovert the principles of design which suffuse every aspect of the aesthetics of them arket? For m e the answer is quite clear: if the subject E nglish in the Englishschool curriculum does not do so, then there is nowhere else at the mom entwhere this will happen. But it is an issue which is both essential for the designof a new form of com m unication and for the understanding of life in a consum er(i.e. m arket dom inated) society. As I said, whether this newly (re)conceived subject rem ains English orbecom es, m uch m ore appropriately `com m unication’ (or som ething else en-tirely, as in the new curriculum 2005 in South Africa, where it has becom elanguage, com m unication and literature), the tasks for that subject rem ain.Preparing young people for their lives in a society dom inated by consumptionstructured by the m arket dem ands that aesthetics, as the politics of style (itselfthe result of work by individuals), whether of the banal text or the valued textsof the elite, be at the core and as the foundation of that curriculum. Aestheticsas the politics of taste, whether of the everyday or the exceptional, or thebringing together of the two, allows and entails the developm ent of notions ofthe potentials of individuals, of representational resources, of agency, of thetransform ative action of design, of innovation, of a taken-for-granted creativityof all com m unicational action/work. Im plicit in it is the notion of critique, i.e.
  13. 13. A Curriculum for the Future 145full awareness of the representational and com m unicational potentials of form sof com m unication will always allow the recipients of `texts’ to hypothesize ininform ed fashion as to what the interests and intentions of the m akers of the textm ight have been. In the world of m arket-dom inated consum ption, as m uch as in the worldof an econom y of inform ation and services, m eaning resides in com m odities ofall kinds, both because com m odities have been constructed as signs and becausecom m odities are taken as signs by those who construct their identity throughchoice-in-consum ption. M eaning is therefore no longer con® ned or con® nableto `texts’ in a traditional sense, nor is com m unication. A curriculum of com -m unication which is to be adequate to the needs of the young cannot afford torem ain with older notions of text as valued literary object, as the present Englishcurriculum still does, by and large.CON CL USIO NI have not discussed one of the m ost burning issuesÐ will there be a school atall in 30 years tim e or will ICTs becom e such that fram ings of site, tim e andauthority have becom e super¯ uous or irrelevant? I have assum ed the continuedexistence of the school, even if in greatly changed form , but the school will onlyretain its place if it, or those who are responsible for it, face the question of the® t between curriculum and the new shapes of work and leisure around the school and if the question of wider purposes for each subject in the curriculum can be satisfactorily answered.Correspondence: G unther K ress, University of London Institute of E ducation, 20Bedford W ay, London WC1H 0AL , U KREFERENCE SC OPE, B. & K ALANTZIS , M . (1999) Multiliteracies (London, Routledge).G EE , J.P, H ULL , G. & L ANKSHEAR , C. (1996) The New Work Order; behind the language of the new capitalism (Boulder, CO, Westview).K RESS, G.R. (1995) Writing the Future: English and the making of a culture of innovation (Shef® eld, National Association of Teachers of English).K RESS, G .R. (1997) Before Writing: rethinking the paths to literacy (London, Routledge).K RESS, G .R. (1999) Early Spelling: between convention and creativity (London, Routledge).K RESS, G.R. & VAN L EEUWEN , T. (1996) Reading Images: the grammar of visual design (London, Routledge).N EW L ONDON G ROUP (1996) A pedagogy of multiliteracies, Harvard Educational Review, 60(1), pp. 66± 92.VAN L EEUW EN , T. (1999) Speech Music Sound (London, Macm illan).