My presentation at the Bishop Grosseteste University, Learning and Teaching Conference, 22 June 2015. Notes here: http://www.richard-hall.org/2015/06/19/on-dismantling-the-curriculum-in-higher-education/
1. dismantling the curriculum in
Professor Richard Hall
Bishop Grosseteste University // 22 June 2015
2. 1. The curriculum amplifies crises of sociability
2. The curriculum reinforces relations of
production and therefore power
3. Is it possible to enact #educationalrepair?
6. 1. Technological and organisational forms of production,
exchange and consumption.
2. Relations to nature and the environment.
3. Social relations between people.
4. Mental conceptions of the world, embracing knowledges
and cultural understandings and beliefs.
5. Labour processes and production of specific goods,
geographies, services or affects.
6. Institutional, legal and governmental arrangements.
7. The conduct of daily life that underpins social reproduction.
Harvey, D. (2010), The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism. London: Profile Books.
7. Value emerges as a form of sociability (as capital) from the
unity of three circuits. It is formed of moments of the
circulation of money, of production, and of commodities.
The self-expansion of value is “the determining purpose,
as the compelling motive.”
Marx, K. 1885. Capital, Volume 2, Chapter 4. London: Penguin.
Accumulated value, and the power that flows from it,
means that other forms of human or humane value in the
production of commodities are marginalised.
Jappe, A. 2014. Towards a History of the Critique of Value. Capitalism, Nature,
Socialism. 25(2): 11
8. Without radical changes to how universities were financed
however it was going to be difficult to change their behaviour.
Now there is an opportunity to use our funding changes to push
a real cultural change back towards teaching
Willetts, D. 2013. Robbins Revisited: Bigger and Better Higher Education. London:
Social Market Foundation. http://bit.ly/1mhl2By
substantial cuts to departmental spending – even in areas of
previous policy priority such as science or education – may be
needed in order to deliver the level of fiscal consolidation
required under the government’s current plans.
Crawford, C., Crawford, R., and Jin, W. 2014. The Outlook for Higher Education
Spending by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Institute for Fiscal
Studies, Report R86, p. 30.
9. personal tutoring; peer mentoring;
internationalisation/MOOCs; learning analytics;
teaching excellence framework; learning gain/the
HEAR; NSS, and assessment and feedback; DSA;
employability/the FEER; scholarship/REF; and on;
and on; and on; and on; and on.
without considering pedagogical design and delivery
rooted in: communities of practice; social learning
theory; assessment for/of learning; autonomous
learning; student-as-producer; constructivism or
connectivism; or whatever tickles us.
10. c.f. IFS. 2015. Reforms to student finances will have complex and far-reaching effects.
11. Zerohedge. 2015. The Treasury's Worst-Case Scenario: Over $3.3 Trillion In
Student Loans In A Decade. http://bit.ly/1JREBlf
16. “At the heart of it all is a new sociological type:
the graduate with no future”.
Mason, P. 2011. 20 reasons why it is kicking off everywhere: http://bbc.in/hSZ3Ak
17. • counter-measures cannot resolve the
underlying problems of the system, rooted in
expansion and accumulation
• counter-measures undermine capitalism’s
c.f. Krugman, Roberts, Summers
Cleaver, H. 1993. Theses on the Secular Crisis. See: http://bit.ly/1Bfywwl
18. “a new disease… technological unemployment.”
“This means unemployment due to our discovery
of means of economising the use of labour
outrunning the pace at which we can find new
uses for labour.”
J.M. Keynes. 1930. Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.
21. A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive
expansion of production and refining capacity.
While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic,
political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might
produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth
in both the developing and developed worlds.
Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other
US Joint Forces Command. 2010. Joint Operating Environment.
22. USA Energy Information Administration, International Energy
Outlook 2013. http://1.usa.gov/1i7iyWn
USA Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy
Outlook 2009. http://bit.ly/1hSKa01
23. our prediction of small further increases in world oil
production comes at the expense of a near doubling,
permanently, of real oil prices over the coming decade.
This is uncharted territory for the world economy…
the macroeconomic effects of binding resource constraints
could be much larger, more persistent, and they would
extend well beyond the oil sector.
IMF Working Paper WP/12/109. 2012. The Future of Oil: Geology versus Technology.
30. Education markets are one facet of the neoliberal
strategy to manage the structural crisis of
capitalism by opening the public sector to capital
Lipman, P. 2011. Neoliberal Education Restructuring
Dangers and Opportunities of the Present Crisis. Monthly Review, 63(3).
31. 1. Networks of power and affinity, that enable the re-production of
‘geographies of social relationships’.
2. Networks form shifting assemblages of activity and
relationships that reinforce hegemonic power.
3. Transnational activist networks consisting of:
i. academics and think tanks;
ii. policy-makers and administrators;
iii. finance capital and private equity funds;
iv. media corporations and publishers;
v. philanthropists/hedge-funds interested in CSR.
Aim to regulate the state for enterprise and the market.
Ball, S. 2012. Global Education Inc. London: Routledge.
32. the sociability of academic work is altered:
1.for exchange > use
2.university reorganisation = efficiency +
3.a structural adjustment policy that reshapes the
relationships between academics and students
34. Lord Young, adviser to the Prime Minister on small
business and enterprise: http://bit.ly/1l5iY3Z
36. The Coalition government has quietly put in place a series of
measures designed to support a new performance metric: repayment
of loans by course and institution. It could become the one metric to
dominate all others and will be theorised under the rubric of ‘human
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employability Act received Royal
Assent at the end of March 2015. Section Six of the bill is
titled ‘Education Evaluation’…:
[The measures] will also help to create an incentive and reward
structure at universities by distinguishing the universities that
are delivering the strongest enterprise ethos and labour market
outcomes for their students.
McGettigan, A. 2015. The Treasury View of HE: variable human capital investment.
Political Economy Research Centre.
37. At Pearson, when we ask ourselves how we can help to achieve
that goal of doubling the amount of really high value learning, we
think about four things:
being more global; being more mobile; thinking holistically; being
absolutely obsessed with learning outcomes
“building an ever-wider range of bigger and more complex
standalone products and services to participating in more open,
interoperable educational ‘ecosystems’, centered around learners”
Pearson’s Five Trillion Dollar Question: http://bit.ly/1iaRaMp
39. Bain and Company (2012, http://bit.ly/11h3YsD):
• seize opportunities to use exportable services to increase
revenues and profits [MOOCs; accreditation; student support]
• upgrade low-tech products into premium consumer goods and
services [curriculum content; learning analytics]
• services bound by physical geography made portable [mobile]
• leading universities in the advanced economies can
accelerate the training of home-grown specialists in emerging
• by importing the talent of highly-skilled professionals from
companies in developed markets, businesses in the emerging
markets will not need to wait a generation for their own
education systems to produce a skilled workforce
40. Curriculum innovations sold to higher education as
personalisation, or retention, or employability, or whatever:
•in response to the development of a world market;
•making previously marginal sectors of the economy explicitly
productive, including the family;
•as a way of leveraging the ratio of the total surplus-value
produced in society to the total capital invested; and
•as a revolutionising of the means of production.
42. The difficulty of living in a society dominated by
value necessarily leads to the creation of all sorts
of ideologies to explain the suffering caused by
such a society and that enable the subjects of
labour to project onto others the qualities that they
are forced to expel from themselves.
[e.g. uncreative, luddite, poorly performing, failing,
coasting, disruptive, troubled, whatever]
Jappe, A. 2014. Towards a History of the Critique of Value. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.
46. Culturally acceptable self-harming acts or activities
Turp, M. 2001. Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy. London: Jessica Kingsley
the University’s functions now are being redesigned
so that they reproduce a sense of anxiety as a
permanent state of exception inside teams and
Hall, R. 2014. Notes on the University as anxiety machine. http://bit.ly/1vK36sN
49. Dismantling the Masters house: http://www.dtmh.ucl.ac.uk
c.f. Why isn’t my professor black? Why is the curriculum white?
50. Canonical curriculum... gives rise to a very narrow and particular
epistemology designed to maintain control of information, of
knowledge, of history, of society, and of self.
Whiteness, in the singular way in which it was constructed, is
itself an bastardization of a wide variety of European cultures; it
is itself a distorted reflection. It can only give rise to a monstrous
There is currently a movement on both sides of the Atlantic in
which university students... are urging their institutions of higher
learning to actually lead society in cultivating safe spaces for
higher levels of conversation around racial equality.
Boyd, Z. 2014. Reflections on a #WhiteCurriculum. http://bit.ly/1MZkmAI
51. 1. de-valuing diverse contributions
2. mainstreaming a narrower perspective on the world
3. characterizing academic thought as not ‘for’ thinkers
from other traditions
4. limiting classroom discussions
5. fostering the myth of white epistemological superiority
6. cultivating false connections between representation and
7. silencing/alienating students that value concepts and
ideas not espoused by a white curriculum
Boyd, Z. 2014. Reflections on a #WhiteCurriculum. http://bit.ly/1MZkmAI
52. The universal power of education to transform lives for the better feels
more urgent in Africa, too... In a PWC survey of 1,330 global CEOs,
over half report concerns about finding the right talent to reach
Fallon, J. African Outcomes. http://bit.ly/1feY1E3
53. A critical question is whether the Western tradition has the
intellectual resources within to transform itself and come to
terms with the historical effects and traces of racism that are
invested in our institutions and in our knowledge traditions.
we are only at the very beginning of this process of
transformation and the UCL collective has initiated a student-
led movement that has the potential to provoke and demand
Peters, M. 2015. Why is My Curriculum White?, Educational Philosophy
and Theory, 47:7. DOI:
•place and context specific
•complementary actions across levels, from individuals to governments reducing
vulnerability and exposure to present climate variability
•contingent on societal values, objectives, and risk perceptions. Recognition of
diverse interests, circumstances, social-cultural contexts, and expectations
•sensitive to context and the diversity of decision types, decision processes, and
•economic instruments can foster adaptation by providing incentives
•constraints can interact to impede adaptation
•short-termism or failing to anticipate consequences can result in maladaptation
•limited evidence indicates a gap between global adaptation needs and funds
•co-benefits, synergies, and tradeoffs exist between mitigation and adaptation
IPCC. 2014. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.
56. • academics and activists
• a network of learning groups designed to promote political-
• democratise discussion over how and why our society is
organised, and what can be done
• to cultivate critical political economic literacy
• concrete social action
• all knowledge is co-produced
• no teachers or students: self-critical scholarly communities
• open, critical dialogue is foundational
• all feel entitled and able to teach
• all feel safe, respected, and supported
57. to trigger and coordinate a global participatory process and
immediate national application for the change of productive matrix
towards a society of open and common knowledge in Ecuador
The conceptual, philosophical and economic process and the
historical and socio-cognitive context framework, the
organizational principles governing the process, collaborative and
communicative digital tools and advance planning of the whole
FLOK Society. 2014. General Framework Document to implement the
Ecuadorian National Plan for Good Living (2009). http://bit.ly/1pYHW7w
58. Might we build a curriculum that is engaged and
full of care, and where we no longer simply
learn to internalise, monitor and manage our
59. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who also believe that our work
is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth
of our students.
To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is
essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most
deeply and intimately begin.
bell hooks. 1994. Teaching to Transgress, p. 13.
60. [To be engaged] invites us always to be in the present, to
remember that the classroom is never the same.
Traditional ways of thinking about the classroom stress the
opposite paradigm—that the classroom is always the same
even when students are different.
To me, the engaged classroom is always changing. Yet this
notion of engagement threatens the institutionalized
practices of domination.
When the classroom is truly engaged, it’s dynamic. It’s fluid.
It’s always changing.
bell hooks. 1994. Teaching to Transgress, p. 158
61. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International License.