03 SES 02, Symposium and Book Launch: Reinventing the Curriculum - Part A
In recent years, new curricular models have emerged in policy across Anglophone countries, and arguably more widely. Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, Australia’s proposed national curriculum, and recent changes to the New ZealandCurriculum provide telling examples of the emergence of a set of common trends in curriculum prescription. These trends seem to indicate a significant departure from several decades of central curricular prescription; however these newly emerging forms of national curriculum theory, policy and practice are also problematic. The main aim of this double symposium is to provide a critical analysis of these new forms of national curriculum. The symposium features some of the chapters contributed to a new book, which offers such an analysis: Priestley, M. & Biesta. G.J.J. (Eds.) (2013 Reinventing the Curriculum: New Trends in Curriculum Policy and Practice.
The first part of the symposium (this session) comprises three papers. (1) Mark Priestley (University of Stirling) will present an overview of trends in the development of national curricula and an outline of the key issues, providing the context for the book and an outline of its content; (2) Gert Biesta (University of Luxembourg), drawing upon Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence, will explore the emerging tendency to define the aims of education in terms of the personal qualities that students need to acquire, rather than in terms of what they need to know or need to be able to do; and (3) Jenny Reeves (University of Stirling) will examine the concept of the 'successful learner', as it is defined in Scotland's new curriculum, exploring the genealogy of discourses that surround the term 'learner'.
The second part of the symposium will commence with a brief recapitulation of the first session by the session chair Gert Biesta (University of Luxembourg), before featuring three papers: (1) Claire Sinnema (University of Auckland) will present a detailed look at emerging commonalities and trends in curriculum development across several Anglophone countries; (2) Mark Priestley (University of Stirling) will explore teacher agency and curriculum change, drawing upon an ecological view of agency, supported by findings from an ethnographic study of teachers' working practices; and (3) Gert Biesta (University of Luxembourg) concludes the symposium with some reflections on recent transformations in educational research and curriculum studies, in order to highlight trends and patterns and to ask questions about the future of curriculum studies.
It is remarkable that, in a relatively short time and in quite different geographical locations, quite similar ways of thinking about national curriculum frameworks, policies and practices have emerged. It is likely that the ideas informing these trends will spread more widely, which makes a critical examination of key issues and dimensions important, both from an academic perspective but also in order to develop ways of critical understanding that can empower teachers in engaging with new frameworks which, at least at the rhetorical level, provide them with more space for professional agency, judgement and decision making.
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