23 SES 12 D, Curriculum Policies, Democracy and Social Justice
During the last two decades, the transnational networks and organizations are increasingly important as actors and shaping forces in curriculum-making (Andersson-Levitt 2008), and this also applies to the formation of the Swedish curriculum. Factors like the Lisbon strategy, Europe 2020 and a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training “ET 2020” open for the Member States to formulate “European benchmarks” for monitoring progress and challenges and for an increasing convergence of curricula and school systems as a result of what within EU is called ‘evidence-based policy’. The OECD PISA surveys serves as evaluation of national comparison and the “flow of Europeanization is enhanced and shaped by the indicators and data produced in the construction of Europe as a legible, governable, commensurate policy space” (Lawn & Grek 2012, p. 83). Against this backdrop of an ongoing ‘Europeanization’ of educational policy, we analyze the development of the Swedish curriculum reform for compulsory school Lgr 11, drawing on a “classical” theoretical framework of curriculum theory, with its different levels of analysis – the societal/ideological level, the curriculum level and the teaching and classroom level (Lundgren 1989, Englund 2005).
With reference to Bernstein (2000), the three different discursive levels can be related to each other, by the concept of recontextualisation. The dominant and challenging discourses are contested at the official recontextualising field, and are related to, but not identical with, the struggle for the establishing discourses at the pedagogic recontextualising fields (the curriculum and classroom arenas). Education reform discourses selectively relocates, refocuses and reconnects the reform discourse to other discourses to constitute its own order and orderings, according to Bernstein (2000). The concept of recontextualisation thus addresses crucial assumptions of curriculum reforms. First, it challenges an assumption of curriculum as a means for direct policy control and secondly, it challenges the assumption that larger global macro-social contexts have unmediated impact on the local context.
The key question that forms the foreground in this paper is the following: How is the transnational/national curriculum reform Lgr 11in Sweden understood and enacted by the teachers, and with what implications concerning the organizing of learning tasks and assessment practices? This question needs to be understood against a background of an analysis of what factors and aspects in the curriculum Lgr 11 that are in accordance with a transnational coordination of curriculum reforms and what factors can be understood in line with national curriculum traditions and national policy. Consequently, in this paper we will outline a background of transnational educational policy implications for this specific national curriculum reform while focusing on the recontextualisation of the reform from curriculum text to the teachers' apprehension of the reform; that is, we are taking all three levels of classical curriculum theory into account for the analysis (the transnational ideological level, the curriculum level and the teaching level).
Sweden can be regarded as a representative example of a nation located in the field of tension between what Hopmann (2003) designates as two basic patterns of curriculum control: process control and product control. With a history in line with Continental Europe and the German Didaktik tradition of process control, characterized by its licensing model, professional self-control and self-evaluation, Sweden – as several others European countries – is now moving quickly in the direction of a performativity product-centered approach that for long has dominated the English-speaking world, characterized by its focus on outcomes and efficiency. Does this movement towards product control of education mean that the curriculum (and policy) will gain a greater impact on teachers' teaching? This is a valid research question with relevance for most of the European countries and not only for Sweden.
Anderson-Levitt, Kathryn, M. (2008). Globalization and Curriculum. In: Connelly, F. Michael F. He, Ming Fang & Phillion, JoAnn (Eds.). The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. Sage Publications. Alexander, Robin (2001). Culture and Pedagogy – International comparisons in primary education. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Bernstein, Basil. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control & Identity: theory, research, critique. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Englund, Tomas (2005). Läroplanens och skolkunskapens politiska dimension [Curriculum as a Political Problem]. Göteborg: Daidalos. Furlong, John. & Lawn, Martin. (2011). Disciplines of education and their role in the future of educational research. In J. Furlong & M Lawn (Eds.): Disciplines of Education. Their Role in the Future of Education Research,pp. 173-187. London and New York: Routledge. Hopmann, Stefan Thomas (2003). On the evaluation of curriculum reforms. Journal of Curriculum Studies (35) 4, p 459-478. Lawn, Martin and Grek, Sotiria (2012) Europeanizing Education: governing a new policy space Oxford Symposium. Lundgren, Ulf P. (1989). Att organisera omvärlden [Organising the World Around Us]. Stockholm: Utbildningsförlaget. Sundberg, Daniel & Wahlström, Ninni (2012). Standards-based Curricula in a Denationalised conception of Education – the case of Sweden. European educational research journal,11(3), 342-356. Swedish National Agency for Education (2011). Curriculum for the Compulsory School, Preschool Class and the Leisure-time Centre. Lgr 11. Stockholm: National Agency for Education. Swedish National Agency for Education (1994). Curriculum for the Compulsory School System, Pre-school Class, and the Leisure-time Centre. Lpo 94. Stockholm: National Agency for Education.
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