23 SES 12 C, Knowledge Agendas, Humanities Subjects and Equity: Examining Curriculum Policy Reforms in Three National Contexts
The school curriculum is increasingly influenced by economic and political forces, creating tensions about how to construct a just curriculum for policy and practice. It is argued that curriculum liberalisation since 2000 in England made qualifications and school knowledge accessible to a wide range of students. But following criticism by the Coalition government for ‘dumbing-down’ the curriculum and preventing ‘disadvantaged’ students from acquiring the ‘powerful’ subject knowledge, radical reform of school curriculum policy for 14-16 year-olds is now underway (DfE, 2010). Reform consists of a traditional subject - based curriculum framework (EBC) and ‘core knowledge’. I draw on Derridean deconstruction to examine the possibility of justice in the new policy, with specific attention to geography. Findings suggest that focusing on performance in a narrow range of traditional subjects will increase both differentiation between students and selection for future opportunities. ‘Core knowledge’ engages geographical concepts and language that constrain students’ constructions of the world and relations between people. I enquire about the role of creativity and innovation and wonder whether the policy focus on traditional subject knowledge will assist the government’s quest for top position in global performance tables. DfE (2010) The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper. London: HMSO.
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