ERG SES C 10, Curriculum and Education
Since the late 90s, important reforms aiming at transforming the content of compulsory education have been implemented in many industrialized countries. Such developments have taken place in a context where the work of the OECD, comparing education systems and measuring pupils’ competences, has increased concerns about the requirements of the ‘knowledge society’, shifting the attention of policy makers to the curriculum and its content (Robertson, 2005; Yates & Young, 2010).
Recent curriculum reforms take various forms but share important common points. Marking a shift from knowledge-based to competence-based curricula, they display characteristics such as the definition of key learning outcomes to be attained by students, an emphasis on cross-curricular competences and interdisciplinary learning, new approaches to assessment as well as pedagogies centred on ‘learners’. On the contrary, ‘traditional’, ‘elite’ curricula displaying features such as norm-referenced assessment and subject-specific contents are being dismissed.
One the one hand there seems to be a wide consensus at the global level on what the content of curriculum should be in order to equip citizens for the 21st century. Looking at worldwide patterns in secondary education curricula, it has been argued that much of the formal content of these curricula have become standardised (Meyer & Ramirez, 2000). On the other hand the legitimacy of such reforms at national and local level is far from being secured. Curricular models taken for granted by supranational organizations, and by national policy-makers, are giving rise to heated debates and controversies among national and local actors. In certain cases curricular policies seem to be moving ‘back’ to older forms, creating a much more blurred picture than a single global model would suggest. Moreover, actual forms taken by national curricula may be much more varied than what neo-institutionalist theories would predict (Anderson-Levitt, 2003). However few empirical, in-depth comparative research have been carried out on recent reforms, whilst macro-level, cross-national comparisons only allow to identify broad, common trends.
The aim of this research is to compare the implementation of curriculum reforms in the specific contexts of France and Quebec. In both cases reforms followed large-scale public consultations providing as assessment of the education system and reviewing the curriculum in order to prepare students for a ‘knowledge society’. In Quebec the reform implementation started in 2005 at secondary level. In France, a common base consisting of a set of knowledge and competences was adopted in 2005. In both countries, the ‘new’ curricula remain highly contentious ten years after the reforms were launched. Successive governments have taken a variety of initiatives to steer the curricula in various directions, but the seemingly high level of instability contrasts with what appears to be a resilience of old curricular forms, both in France (Gauthier & LeGouvello, 2010) and Québec (Lessard, 2010).
We develop a framework to compare curriculum reforms in two education systems. We analyse the two policies, drawing on the concept of ‘policy narratives’ (Radaelli, 2006), looking at the discourse justifying curriculum change between 2000 and 2010. Secondly we draw on Basil Bernstein’s (2000) theoretical concepts to characterise and analyse the models that informed the two reforms and the resulting curricula. We use the distinction between visible and invisible models of pedagogy and between performance and competence models to build our comparative analysis, moving away from the normative language used by the actors themselves. Such theoretical foundation allows us to compare the structure of pedagogical discourse expressed by official curricular texts in both societal contexts, whilst at the same time providing a much more refined analysis of the curricular models across all their dimensions.
Anderson-Levitt, K. (2003). A world culture of schooling. Dans K. Anderson-Levitt (dir.), Local meanings, global schooling: Anthropology and world culture theory (p. 1-26). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control, and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique. Boston: Rowman & Littlefield. GAUTHIER, R. F., & Le Gouvello, M. (2010). The French Curricular Exception and the Troubles of Education and Internationalisation: will it be enough to ‘rearrange the deckchairs’? European Journal of Education, 45(1), 74-88. Lessard, C. (2010). La difficile légitimation des réformes curriculaires. Dans V. Téhio (dir.), Politiques publiques en éducation: l'exemple des réformes curriculaires (p. 58-79). Paris: CIEP. Meyer, J. W. (2007). World models, national curricula, and the centrality of the individual. Dans A. Benavot & C. Braslavsky (dir.), School Knowledge in Comparative and Historical Perspective (p. 259-271). Dordrecht: Springer. Robertson, S. L. (2005). Re-imagining and rescripting the future of education: Global knowledge economy discourses and the challenge to education systems. Comparative Education, 41(2), 151-170. Yates, L., & Young, M. (2010). Globalisation, knowledge and the curriculum. European Journal of Education, 45(1), 4-10.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
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Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
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Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
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