03 SES 05.5 PS, Posters on Curriculum Related Issues
General Poster Session
Many countries have implemented education policies in which the central government prescribes a curriculum for schools and teachers to follow. The pace of introduction of state-led curriculum policies has increased since 2000, when the OECD initiated international comparisons of student educational achievements through the PISA. However, this national curriculum model in which the central government prescribes curricular content and teaching methods in detail has been strongly criticized for forcing teachers to become technicians, carrying out a predefined process (Masuda, 2010; Priestley & Biesta, 2013; Taylor, 2013).
Recent discourses affecting world education policy have emphasized the role of teachers (OECD, 2005; Barber & Mourshed, 2007). Accordingly, countries with national curriculum systems have reduced the amount of content prescribed at the national level and developed policies that increase school-level autonomy (Sinnema & Aitken, 2013). This is a crucial change that breaks free from the policy direction of the past that de-professionalized teachers through prescriptive curricula and strict control (Priestley & Biesta, 2013). This new form of national curriculum policy allows teachers to become active developers of the curriculum (Priestly, 2011). However, as these new policies include gradually expanding systems of accountability, there is controversy over whether the new approach really guarantees teachers any more autonomy than the previous prescriptive approach.
South Korea introduced the national curriculum in the 1950s. Since then, Korea has achieved rapid educational growth, resulting in having consistently been ranked at the top in all areas from PISA since 2000 (So & Kang, 2014). In achieving such remarkable educational results, the national curriculum has played a crucial role. In the early days, the national curriculum documents contained highly detailed prescriptions for educational content, leaving schools and teachers with little flexibility or autonomy to make decisions about the curriculum. However, since the early 1990s, the Korean government has gradually provided regions and schools with the autonomy to make decisions about their curriculum. Recently, there have been efforts to reform the curriculum to increase student happiness and wellbeing. This proposed change highlights a policy discourse that calls on teachers to be agents of change. However, despite several revisions of the national curriculum to improve school performance, there has actually been little change in schools. The issue of reform without change (Cuban, 1988; Spillane, 1999; Tyack & Cuban, 1995) is becoming controversial in Korean society as in other countries.
Education policy reflects the values and intentions of policymakers, not only providing the means to govern the actual actors of education, but also influencing their thoughts and behaviors (Grimaldi, 2012; Popkewitz, 1991). In particular, the national curriculum exerts diverse and subtle forms of influence over school settings because the framework itself is seen as constraining teachers (Ball, 2006). The Korean national curriculum has constantly been revised in various historical and social contexts for the last 60 years, maintaining a powerful influence over schools and teachers; thus, a rich discourse on the national curriculum system exists. Therefore, a review of Korea’s national curriculum system can help us understand how tension and controversy work around the national curriculum and how the system can influence schools.
This study aims to provide insight into the complicated and sometimes contradictory role of the national curriculum and its impact on actual school settings by reviewing Korea’s national curriculum reform process. To this end, the present study focuses on the following two topics. First, it reveals the politics of national curriculum reform by providing historical-sociological explanations of Korea’s national curriculum reform. Second, it explores how the national curriculum system influences school education.
As curricular reform is highly contextual and often political, it is always tailored to the society, culture, and education system of the country in which it occurs. The South Korean national curriculum was established in a unique historical and social context; it has been revised every time there has been a change in political power. Korea had a ruling dynasty until the early 20th century and was ruled by Japan from 1910 to 1945. Following three years of US military administration after liberation in 1945, Korea officially formed the government of the Republic of Korea in 1948. The Education Act, enacted in 1949, gave the new government the authority to implement an independent and democratic system of education. However, the Korean War broke out in 1950 and lasted until 1953, when South and North Korea reached an armistice agreement. Finally, the 1st national curriculum was established in 1954, and since then, it has been revised in every political regime. For the last 60 years, the Korean national curriculum has been revised, affected by various historical and social contexts; thus, a rich discourse on the national curriculum system has been cumulated. Therefore, this study collected the Korean national curriculum documents that has been revised 10 times for the last 60 years as well as related government documents. Especially, it reviewed consistency and contradictions between curriculum policies suggested in each document.
South Korea has established the basis for many changes by reforming the curriculum to ensure a more flexible, autonomous system of education that prioritizes student happiness. However, these reforms in reality have not been followed by actual changes. By analyzing the impact of the Korean national curriculum system on actual school practice, the research findings revealed the reasons. First, the national curriculum reforms have been for politicians, not for schools. The revision is triggered by the political demands of new governments rather than by the educational demands in schools (Gim, 2002). Many teachers regard Korea’s frequent reforms of the national curriculum as mere political plans, implemented by the government for its own benefit (So, 2013). In such a political maelstrom, teachers tend to stick to familiar approaches. Second, the reforms have more focused on introducing new prescriptions, rather than how they are enacted in schools; thus, teachers have not been interested in the prescribed duties. In a national curriculum system focused on new prescriptions, few policymakers care how the prescribed curriculum is enacted by teachers or experienced by students. For this reason, Korean teachers do not react strongly to new reforms prescribed by the national curriculum. Instead, the college entrance examination (not implicated by the government) actually controls both teachers’ classes and students’ lives. Third, teachers have been disciplined by the national curriculum for the long period of time, which hampers them from being agents of change when they are given autonomy. The old school grammar that required teachers to follow the national curriculum has forced them to constantly reflect on their teaching, based on the national curriculum. In addition, the unchanging textbook system and college entrance exam have limited teachers’ agency. Although their autonomy has increased, teachers disciplined by the national curriculum cannot easily discard conventional school rules.
Ball, S.J. (2006). Education and social class: The selected works of S.J. Ball. London: Routledge. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world's best-performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved November 23, 2018, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/how-the-worlds-best-performing-school-systems-come-out-on-top. Cuban, L. (1988). Constancy and change in schools (1880s to the present). In P. W. Jackson (Ed.), Contributing to educational change: Perspectives on policy and practice (pp. 85–105). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan. Gim, C. (2002). A critical examination of the Korean national curriculum research and development system. The Journal of Curriculum Studies, 20(3), 77-97. Grimaldi, E. (2012). Analysing policy in the context(s) of practice: A theoretical puzzle. Journal of Education Policy, 27(4), 445-465. Masuda, A. (2010). The teacher study group as a space for agency in an era of accountability and compliance. Teacher Development, 14(4), 467-481. OECD (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: OECD. Popkewitz, T. (1991). A political sociology of educational reform: Power/knowledge in teaching, teacher education, and research. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Priestley, M. (2011). Whatever happened to curriculum theory? Critical realism and curriculum change. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19. 221-238. Priestley, M., & Biesta, G. (2013). Introduction: The new curriculum. In M. Priestley & G. Biesta (Eds.), Reinventing the curriculum: New trends in curriculum policy and practice (pp. 1-12). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Sinnema, C., & Aitken, G. (2013). Emerging international trends in curriculum. In M. Priestley & G. Biesta (Eds.), Reinventing the curriculum: New trends in curriculum policy and practice (pp. 141-163). London: Bloomsbury Academic. So, K. (2013). Issues of national curriculum revision: From a view of a general guideline researcher. Education Research and Practice, 79, 87-100. So, K., & Kang, J. (2014). Curriculum reform in Korea: Issues and challenges for twenty-first century learning. Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 23(4). 795-803. Spillane, J. (1999). External reform efforts and teachers' initiatives to reconstruct their practice: The mediating role of teachers' zones of enactment. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31, 143–175. Taylor, M.W. (2013). Replacing the ‘teacher-proof’ curriculum with the ‘curriculum-proof’ teacher: Toward more effective interactions with mathematics textbooks. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 45, 295-321. Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Some networks have already started to plan their chairperson(s).
But at the moment chairpersons are only pencilled in, as we will still need to check for time conflicts between presentation and chairing duties. EERA office will work on this in due course and then officially let chairpersons know about their chairing duties.
Meanwhile, thank you for your patience.
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
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
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
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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