03 SES 11 A, Teachers as Policymakers in British Columbia, the Netherlands and Wales
Context and research question The renewal of the 4-18 curriculum framework in the Netherlands relies profoundly on teacher agency. After a countrywide debate, nine teacher teams are developing building blocks of knowledge and skills at various stages in education for nine curriculum areas. These will form the basis of the redesign of core objectives. The teacher teams met during five three-day sessions in 2018/early 2019. In between, they consulted schools, experts and stakeholders. All teams have a curriculum coach. The question is, "What are experiences with this profound role for teachers in the curriculum renewal process?" The study adopts an ecological approach to teacher agency (Priestley, Biesta & Robinson, 2015), emphasizing the interplay of individual capacity based on past experiences, abilities to envisage future opportunities and present possibilities and constraints. Study design The study uses a case study approach with teacher teams as cases. With respect to teachers' experiences and future aspirations data were based on external process evaluations, school visit reports and interviews with all coaches. Data on the present constraints and possibilities were based on external process evaluations, session questionnaires and interviews with coaches. Findings and conclusions Analysis show diversity in outcomes. For example, the digital literacy team came up with rather extensive outcomes early on, whereas the social sciences team needed more time to develop first drafts. Relating results to teacher agency brings in nuances. None of the teachers could rely on national curriculum design experiences and all teachers had future aspirations. However, the digital literacy team was able to act freely as their area is a new field. The social science team, responsible for an area consisting of various subjects with longstanding histories, needed more time for sense-making. Differences between the curriculum areas led to differences in teacher agency, that need to be addressed. Significance This study examines national curriculum renewal in the Netherlands by relating the approach to the concept of teacher agency. We also reflect on what this endeavor ‘brings’ to participating teachers, e.g. resources, constraints, that stimulated or hindered teacher agency. Lessons learned are insightful to similar efforts in countries around the world. The scholarly significance sits in the contributions to the conceptualization of teacher agency in curriculum design efforts at the national level.
Priestley, M., Biesta, G. & Robinson, S. (2015). Teacher Agency: An Ecological Approach. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
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