07 SES 11 A JS, Curriculum Spaces and Strategies for Social Change through Education
Symposium Joint Session NW 03 with NW 07 and NW 23
In European countries we see different policies in central regulation and deregulation of the curriculum, providing different roles to e.g. curriculum guidelines/frameworks, textbooks, national compulsory tests and control activities by the inspectorate (cf. Kuiper & Berkvens 2013). These policies influence the spaces for change in the schools.
These national (de)regulation policies have been accompanied during the last decades with a move towards standards on literacy, numeracy, mathematics and general skills. National and international debates on education focus nowadays on measurable outcomes, efficiency and qualification for labour markets, leaving less or even no time for social subjects like intercultural education, education on human rights, critical approaches to democracy, etc. (cf. Biesta, 2010).
Nevertheless in many European countries in recent decades, the social objectives of education have been more explicitly formulated as a task of education. Citizenship education for example is in some countries on the policy level given a well-defined place in curricula of schools but it is in other countries considered as an aspect of the curriculum that has to be integrated in existing subjects and the schoolculture (Eurydice, 2005) Stakeholders like parents, special interest groups and communities, but also societal incidents with a lot of impact (e.g. school shootings), have their influence too on the choice for social and cultural subjects in the curriculum. In case schools and teachers wish to pay more attention to these subjects aiming at social change, they need to make local adaptations in the curriculum, for instance by integrating these issues in existing subjects. This site-specific endeavor depends heavily on the moral strength, competencies and organizational creativity of school leaders and teams of teachers.
Such local curriculum development efforts could especially flourish in those countries that provide at least some autonomy to schools and teachers to make curricular choices and work on curriculum renewal in their schools. However there is some evidence, at least in the Netherlands (a country that provides schools and teachers with curriculum autonomy) that the curriculum design competencies of teachers and school leaders and the school culture (hidden curriculum of performance-related pressure and absence of democratic decision-taking) and school infrastructure (time, budget, etc.) are oftentimes not sufficient to take the lead in these.
With this symposium we will compare the possibilities for social change through education by comparing the spaces for social subjects with aims related to social change in the curriculum across Europe. What are the experiences with curriculum renewal on these critical social subjects across Europe? What is needed to lever successful local curriculum development for these? The symposium will exist of contributions from the Netherlands, Sweden and Scotlandand followed by a discussion.
Biesta, G. (2010) Good Education in an Age of Measurement: Ethics, Politics, Democracy. Eurydice (2005). Citizenship education at school in Europe. Survey. Brussel: European Commission. Kuiper, W., & Berkvens, J. (Eds.). Balancing curriculum regulation and freedom across Europe. CIDREE Yearbook 2013. Enschede, the Netherlands: SLO. http://www.cidree.org/publications/yearbook_2013
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