03 SES 06 A, Can Educational Knowledge Be Powerful? Part 2
Symposium continued from 03 SES 04 A
About forty years ago, American curriculum theorist Joseph Schwab made a diagnosis of the ‘moribund’ state of curriculum studies and called for the adoption of ‘new principles’ and ‘new methods’ in the field: • Symptoms: ‘The field of curriculum is moribund.’ The symptoms of the moribund state are ‘six flights’. • Diagnosis: The field of curriculum is experiencing a crisis of principle. ‘[It] is unable, by its present methods and principles, to continue its work and contribute significantly to the advancement of education’. • Prescription: The field of curriculum ‘requires new principles which will generate a new view of the character and variety of its problems. It requires new methods appropriate to the new budget of problems.’ (Schwab,1970/2013, p. 591) As a response to the call, American curriculum theorists in the 1970s launched a re-conceptualist movement which has eventually altered the curriculum field fundamentally – from one that is centrally concerned with curriculum development to one that is preoccupied with curriculum theorizing characterized by a multi-discursive academic effort to understand a variety of experience. Using the above ‘medical’ framework (symptoms, diagnosis and prescription), I analyse the current state of curriculum theorizing. I argue that contemporary curriculum theorizing is in serious crisis due to the loss of the original subject of curriculum studies – practice and the inner work of schooling as a complex institution. Furthermore, I contend that the crisis has to do with the task of theorizing being mistakenly viewed as the pursuit of ‘complicated’ curriculum understanding, together with an uncritical embrace of postmodernism and related discourses. As a result, much contemporary curriculum theory has become ‘powerless’ in the real-world practice of schools and classrooms and been increasingly ignored by policymakers, curriculum developers and classroom teachers. Based on Schwab’s the Practical and informed by the German Didaktik tradition, I propose a way forward to overcome the crisis and to revive curriculum theorizing that matters in practice and in the world of schooling in terms of three propositions. First, curriculum studies is a distinctive field centrally concerned with practice for the advancement of education. Second, practice and the inner work of schooling provide the essential starting point and subject matter for theorizing. Third, curriculum theorizing requires the use of theories from various sources in an eclectic, critical and creative manner. In concluding I discuss how this way of theorizing can yield ‘powerful’ curriculum knowledge and in what sense this curriculum knowledge is ‘powerful’.
Schwab, J. J. (2013). The practical: A language for curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 45(5), 591–621. (Reprinted from The practical: a language for curriculum by J. J. Schwab, 1970, Washington, D.C: National Education Association).
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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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