03 SES 12 A, Curriculum Making by Teachers
Kelly (2009) outlines that there are three archetypal models of curriculum and these offer underpinning educational purposes and pedagogical practices:
- Curriculum as content and education as transmission.
- Curriculum as product and education as instrumental.
- Curriculum as process and education as development.
This paper argues that to respond to the turbulence, uncertainty and risks experienced by education in the twenty-first century, a different approach to education and curriculum is needed. It proposes that curriculum as rhizome and education as becoming might open up possible trajectories for deliberation. It bases its findings on a study of the design, development and enactment of reforms in lower secondary education in Ireland . It defines education as an expanding, non-linear process of strong emergence and becoming (Osberg, 2008, Davis and Sumara, 2008, Deleuze and Guattari, 2003). The theoretical framework combines Complexity Theory and also the concept of becoming from “A Thousand Plateaus” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2003). The concept of emergence from Complexity Theory offers the ideas of how an educational system self-organises and changes. Becoming, presents the concepts of multiplicity, difference, time/duration and affirmation. Sellers explains that becoming involves a dynamic process, through/with/in which an assemblage is constantly changing through connections it is making (Sellers, 2013, p.14). Education as becoming is located in a dynamic intra-action and relationality between the human, non-human and more-than-human world which demands a responsible responsiveness (Guattari, 2000, Braidotti, 2013).
If education is perceived as becoming, then curriculum must be viewed not as a linear process but as rhizome. Rhizome is a form of plant that can extent itself through its underground horizontal tuber-like root system and develop new plants (Colman, 2005). For Deleuze and Guattari (2003), rhizome acts as an alternative possibility to conventional arborescent (tree-like) thought and it is this alternative that this paper wishes to explore when considering curriculum. Curriculum as rhizome offers a robust ideology, the potential to offer a complex curriculum map or framework with the implications for pedagogy. It promotes the idea of the creativity, agency and professional judgement of all actors at all levels of curriculum making.
The Irish Junior Cycle Framework is offered as a lens to study the possibilities and challenges that confronts lower secondary education as it opens itself to education as becoming and curriculum as rhizome. It highlights a system that insisted on a linear, deterministic and narrow process of education and curriculum and the complexities that emerged in its refusal to learn. The study advances glimpses of the emergence of a more non-linear, connected and collaborative process of emergence. Curriculum as rhizome maps how this trajectory opens up education and curriculum to confront the risks and uncertainty of the world. It moves into a landscape that celebrates the unpredictable, the diverse and the complex. The Junior Cycle Framework requests the curriculum maker to map new ground, initiating the emergence of the as-yet-unimagined (Davis and Sumara, 2008, p.135).
The methodology for this paper looks at lower secondary in Ireland as an “assemblage” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2003). Assemblage refers to the complex and dynamic flows, connections and becomings that emerge and disperse relationally between the different bodies and actors that occupy this space. It allows the research to be mapped by its interconnections and interrelationships on a holistic and on a local level. To gather a holistic and multi-perspectival understanding of the emerging story of the process of curriculum reform in the open and complex system of second level education in Ireland, the research engaged in the following: a. Twenty-one semi-structured interviews with policy stakeholders across the lower secondary education system in Ireland. b. Ten semi-structured interviews with four principals and six teachers in four lower secondary schools in Ireland. c. Six focus group interviews with 10 pupils in each of the 3 selected schools. The data emerged from the middle/between these voices and the study proffers the richness of the sum of these voices together and does not centrally focus on any one agent. The analytic process that was used to capture this holistic approach, was the use of rhizo-analysis. Rhizo-analysis ceaselessly establishes connections between the agents in the assemblage and has no beginning or end but rather the rhizome is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo (Deleuze and Guattari, 2003, p.25). This type of analysis allows the researcher to offer the map of the connected landscape of lower secondary during curriculum reform. This map is not a tracing or a reproduction which produces more of the same by following a sequentially ordered process through links between points and positions that are restricted to a particular place, reaching conventionally logical and coherent conclusions (Sellers, 2015, p.11). Its function was to perturb conventional ordering, sequencing, categorizing and linearity. The rhizome allowed multiple entryways and multidimensional spaces of exploration and discovery in the open complex system of lower secondary education in Ireland.
1. Developing momentum for a new trajectory for education and curriculum demands a deep knowledge and understanding of the educational system – its culture, history, context and structure but particularly it must engage with the mindsets and dispositions of the people that inhabit the system. 2. The purposes of lower secondary are a multiplicity of desires and collaborative value judgements need to be made about these purposes. These value judgements are highly political. However, new purposes must make connections with old purposes, otherwise the system will seek equilibrium and reset back into old modes of desire. 3. Curriculum is concerned with the space to run (Pinar et al., 2008), the inner and outer journey of the runner and their running with other runners. The model that perhaps grasps the energy and complexity of the ideology was the metaphor of rhizome as suggested by Deleuze and Guattari (2003). Through mapping the main tubers or intensities of the junior cycle curriculum, it was possible to follow their connections and allow for the space for the teacher/student to run. This mapping as rhizome has pedagogical implications for teaching, learning and assessment. It encourages the teacher to move from curriculum deliverer to curriculum maker. 4. Education as becoming demands a new thinking about the concepts of difference – both degree and kind. It highlights the importance of reality as actual and virtual but also suggests a different approach to thinking about time. These concepts open up thresholds for unfolding new roles and relationships in the classroom.
BRAIDOTTI, R. 2013. The Post-Human, United Kingdom, Polity. COLMAN, S. 2005. Rhizome. In: PARR, A. (ed.) The Deleuze Dictionary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. DAVIS, B. & SUMARA, D. 2008. Complexity and Education: Inquiries into Learning, Teaching and Research, New York, Routledge. DELEUZE, G. & GUATTARI, F. 2003. A Thousand Plateaus, Minneapolis, University of Minneapolis Press. GUATTARI, F. 2000. The Three Ecologies, London, The Athlone Press. KELLY, A. V. 2009. The Curriculum: Theory and Practice, London & California, SAGE. OSBERG, D. 2008. The Logic of Emergence: An Alternative Conceptual Space for Theorizing Critical Education. Journal of the Canadian Assessment for Curriculum Studies, 6. PINAR, W. F., REYNOLDS, W. M., SLATTERY, P. & TAUBMANN, P. M. 2008. Understanding Curriculum: An Introduction to the Study of Historical and Contemporary Curriculum Discourses, United States, Peter Lang. SELLERS, M. 2013. Young Children Becoming Curriculum, New York, Routledge. SELLERS, M. 2015. ...working with (a) rhizoanalysis...and working (with) a rhizoanalysis. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 12, 6-31.
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