03 SES 13 B, Defining Curriculum Quality
In the transnational arena, organizations like the OECD and the European Union, but also private actors as McKinsey & Co, have increased their efforts in the field of educational policy (e.g.Dale & Robertson 2009, Grek & Ozga 2010, Lawn & Grek 2012, Robertson 2012). A ‘global education policy’, circulating, transformed and ‘borrowed’ between international education policy arenas and nations (Ball 1998), has emphasised concepts such as ‘quality assurance’ and ‘teacher quality’ with the effect that teacher training has become a focal point for policy interest. Research on transnational educational policy, exemplified above, is mostly centred on concepts of ‘globalization’, ‘neo-liberalism’ and ‘marketization’. The paper complements this current research with a cosmopolitan perspective; and more specifically, with a perspective of ‘capablities approach’ on transnational policy of teachers’ professional development and its consequences for the teachers' creative participation in local curriculum work.
Purpose and research question
The purpose of the study is to contrast a transnational perspective on teacher education from a mainly economic perspective, and a perspective on teacher education from a 'capabilities approach', developed by Amartya Sen (1999, 2009) and Martha Nussbaum (2000, 2007), to examine how ‘new’ and creative questions can generate new discourses concerning teacher competences that include, but is not dominated by, economical conditions. The research question is: How can the ‘capabilities approach’ contribute to develop a deepened understanding of teacher education policy as an important factor in the European struggle for reducing inequalities in curricula and learning?
From the perspective of education as a basic need and a key to all the human capabilities (Nussbaum 2007), teacher education concerns all nations, and we can ask, from a cosmopolitan perspective, which 'sets of capabilities' does a specific teacher education discourse promote? As Sen (1999) notes, a capability is based on the freedom and power to do something and this power also can make room for demands of duty. Hence, the analytical question can be formulated as: what professional duties can be distinguished in transnational policy texts on teacher education? Both Nussbaum and Sen try to create a space for understanding quality of life as what people are actually able to do or to be. While Nussbaum (2000) relates the capabilities approach to rights for each person and emphasizes human dignity, Sen stresses the notion of “public reasoning”, i.e. a person’s capacity to read, communicate, participate, argue, being listened to, being able to make informed choices and decisions and to participate in democratic deliberations (Sen 1999). The link that can be drawn between the capabilities approach and cosmopolitanism is that the scope of the capability approach (as a philosophical work) applies “to all human beings independently of their country of birth or residence, and not only to social institutions but also to the social ethos and to social practices” (Robeyns 2011, p. 18). Thus, I place the capabilities approach in the strand of cosmopolitanism that primarily understands cosmopolitanism as a moral claim of justice (Scheffler 2001).
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