03 SES 06 A, Can Educational Knowledge Be Powerful? Part 2
Symposium continued from 03 SES 04 A
Is educational studies practiced the same way in different countries? Despite significant commonalities – how else would international gatherings like AERA and ECER work, for example – there are distinct paths of development discernible that define and frame different national or regional kinds of educational ‘wissenschaft’ (an excellent example provided in Furlong & Whitty, 2017). Muller & Hoadley (2018) tried to unpick the formative influences in South Africa’s educational studies across a range of universities, discerning influences from the German ‘didaktik’ tradition, the American progressive tradition, and the British critical (NSOE) tradition. In each case, the influence is not linear or simple because traditions are contested in their country of origin. In the US, for example, Labaree (2005) suggests that the administrative progressives prevailed in the policy sphere, the pedagogical progressives in the teacher education schools. Lineaments of both were clearly evident in some of the South African curricula we examined, where they displayed the same sort of contestation. Unexpectedly, we also found that the ‘didaktik’ tradition, dominant in some of the former Afrikaner institutions, had shed their overt ‘apartheid’ trappings. These institutions seemed to retain a knowledge-centred core which was at odds with the more progressive and relativistic lineaments in the English universities which had more strongly been influenced by the progressive and critical traditions of their Anglophone confreres. The question then arises: what affordances do these inherited US, UK and European traditions offer? Are some on the way to ‘powerful knowledge’ as defined by Young & Muller (2013), or are some a ‘wedding of the weak’ as Labaree (2005, 275) put it? Are their possibilities for change equally enhanced or inhibited? How do the different traditions relate to one another in addressing critical issues of theory and policy (such as, decolonising the university curriculum)? Can differences between traditions all be accommodated through reasonable negotiation? In this paper we seek an account of how traditions weigh on the present that is neither path-dependent and deterministic (we can’t escape our past) nor voluntaristic (we can change it to whatever we want). It is somewhere in between, where things are decided in contest. But the terms of this contest, we argue, are set by our past.
Labaree, D. (2005). Progressivism, schools and schools of education: an American romance, Pedagogica Historica, 41 (1-2), 275 – 288. Muller, J. & Hoadley, U. (2018). Pedagogic modality and structure in the recontextualising field of curriculum studies: the South African case, in B. Barrett, U. Hoadley & J. Morgan (eds), Knowledge, Curriculum and Equity: Social realist perspectives, 80 – 101, London, Routledge. Whitty, G. & Furlong, J. (2017). (eds) Knowledge and the study of Education: An international exploration, Oxford, Symposium Books. Young, M. & Muller, J. (2013). On the powers of powerful knowledge, Review of Education, 1(3), 11 – 27.
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