03 SES 01 A, Curriculum Making and Subject Traditions
Renewed interest in curriculum policy and practice led to the study of the curricular processes and resulting artefacts in different country-cases (see eg. Priestley & Philippou, 2018). Emergent scholarship tends to study supra, macro, meso and micro contexts (or to regional, international, transnational and global arenas) of curriculum making and links between them. This symposium intends to enrich this debate by focusing on commonalities and differences in curriculum making in the two subject areas, namely the science (more specifically physics) and social studies.
In the past decade, we witnessed the rise of “new curricula” that emphasized generic key skills or capabilities and tended to diminish the subject knowledge and skills (Priestley & Biesta, 2013). On the other hand, we have witnessed, too, a renewed theoretical interest in subject-specific knowledge and its role in general education (Young & Muller, 2010), and the emergence of new curriculum policies following the approach of conservative modernization (Apple, 2004). One cannot step into the same river twice, however, and the subjects of today are different from the past ones as well as contemporary legitimate domain knowledge does not overlap with traditional canon. It is more likely that the most recent curricula are hybrid, merging goals expressed in terms of the competences/literacies and canonical knowledge. One can also expect that within on national framework or policy, the different subject can follow the different trajectories. As Bernstein (1990) and many others noted, there are fundamental differences between the science and social sciences / humanities. Moreover, the school science is under a strong transnational influence due to PISA and TIMSS programmes, while the equivalent international studies in the social studies area (as ICCS in civics) either are much less visible or do not exist at all. Last but not least, the social science subjects are perceived as a tool to build the national identity. This all fuels the expectation that the development of subject curricula might exhibit different features (Ramirez & Meyer, 2002).
In our symposium, we will study the curriculum making in the three European countries – Sweden, Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands, and in two different school subjects – physics/science and social studies, across the different levels: from the national documents down to teachers and classrooms. The papers will shed some light on following questions: How does the subject communities (e.g. curriculum developers, textbook authors, teachers) cope with demands to take responsibility not only for the subject knowledge transmission, but also for overarching skills and literacies development? What is the role of the different actors (Popkewitz, 2010)? How does the subject epistemological understanding and canonical knowledge change? And do school subjects have any future (cf. Young & Muller, 2010)?
Apple, M. (2004). Creating difference: Neo-liberalism, neo-conservativism and the politics of educational reform. Educational Policy, 18, 12–24. Bernstein, B. (1990/2003). Class, codes and control. Volume IV. The structuring of pedagogic discourse. Abingdon: Routledge. Popkewitz, T. (2010). The limits of teacher education reforms: school subjects, alchemies, and an alternative possibility. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 413–421. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487110375247 Priestley, M., & Biesta, G. (Eds.). (2013). Reinventing the curriculum: New trends in curriculum policy and practice. London: A&C Black. Priestley, M., & Philippou, S.(2018) Curriculum making as social practice: complex webs of enactment. The Curriculum Journal, 29(2), 151-158, DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2018.1451096 Ramirez, F. O., & Meyer, J. W. (2002). National curricula: World models and national historical legacies. Palo Alto: Stanford University. Young, M., & Muller, J. (2010). Three educational scenarios for the future: Lessons from the sociology of knowledge. European Journal of Education, 45(1), 11–27.
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