03 SES 01 A, Curriculum Making and Subject Traditions
In Sweden, a knowledge debate was initiated in the early 1990s through the official report School for Bildung (SOU 1992:94). The purpose of the report was two-fold: to widen the concept of knowledge from a one-sided cognitive meaning and to offer ‘new’ concepts of knowledge adapted to a performance model (Bernstein 2000) of school curriculum. Since this official investigation in the early 1990s, a new grading system and a standards-based and subject-based model of curriculum with prescribed ‘knowledge requirements’, have been implemented, but the knowledge base in the first part of the curriculum has remained the same. Two overarching issues are addressed in this paper: i) The transnational influence on educational knowledge concepts and ii) the transnational influence on curriculum structure resulting in standards-based curriculum. Both aspects are explored in relation to the implications for the subject of social science (civics). Thus, we especially examine what education is for (Biesta 2011) in social science, as it is expressed within the Swedish framework of curriculum. Aim The purpose of this paper is to analyse the Swedish ‘hybrid’ curriculum, composed of a content- and subject based idea on the one hand and an idea of a result-focused, ability-centered curriculum on the other hand, in relation to social science. In the study, the following research questions, focused on curriculum making, are explored: How is knowledge in civics expressed in the Swedish curricula for compulsory and upper secondary school? What are the implications of transnational influences of the concepts of standards and competences for the subject of civics? Theoretical framework and method In the theoretical framework, we draw on Bernstein’s (2000) two pedagogical models, as well as his understanding of horizontal and vertical knowledge in order to relate the Swedish curricula Lgr 11 (compulsory school) and Lgy 11 (upper secondary school) to a theoretical model of curriculum. Following Deng & Luke (2008), we explore the character of the knowledge concept in the school subject of civics. The dominating knowledge discourse is related to a typology of civics (Barr; Barth & Shermis 1977; Englund 1997; Wahlström 2014). We specifically discuss the assessment practice and its consequences for how the knowledge in the subject is understood (Adolfsson 2018, Vogt 2017). In the analysis, we illustrate the subject tradition of social sciences in Sweden, as representative for the Nordic countries, as well as the subject’s current dilemmas in a standards-based curriculum.
Adolfsson, C.-H. (2018). Upgraded curriculum? An analysis of knowledge boundaries in teaching under the Swedish subject-based curriculum. The Curriculum Journal (29)3, 424-440. Barr, R.; Barth, J & Shermis, S (1977). Defining the social sciences. Washington D.C. National Council for the Social Studies. Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Biesta, G. (2011). Good education in an age of measurement: ethics, politics, democracy. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Deng, Zongyi & Luke, Allan (2008): Subject matter. Defining and theorizing school subjects. I F. Michael Connelly; Ming Fang He & JoAnn Phillion, red: The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction,s 66-87. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Englund, Tomas (1997). Undervisning som meningserbjudande [Teaching as an offer of meaning]. In Michael Uljens (red.): Didaktik [Didactics]. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Vogt, Bettina (2017). Just assessment in school – a context-sensitive comparative study of pupils’ conceptions in Sweden and Germany. Växjö: Linnaeus University Dissertations Nr 298/2017. Wahlström, Ninni (2014): The changing role of the state in a denationalized educational policy context. In Andreas Nordin & Daniel Sundberg (Eds.): Transnational Policy Flows in European Education: the Making and Governing of knowledge in the Education Policy Field, pp.159-182. Oxford: Symposium Books.
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