23 SES 12 C, Knowledge Agendas, Humanities Subjects and Equity: Examining Curriculum Policy Reforms in Three National Contexts
The C21st entrance of the federal government into curriculum, authority for which still resides with the six states and two territories, has changed venues and processes for public and professional debates in Australia. Links between debates on curriculum, equity and teaching practices have thus become more problematic. This paper aims to i) link the decisions which framed the structure of the new Australian Curriculum to previous decisions across the country, found in 30 years of policy documents; ii) chart differences in the structuring of knowledge, with emphasis on humanities disciplines; iii) examine teacher, student and community roles in knowledge co-production; and iv) interrogate policy decisions and their knowledge structuring, using Nancy Fraser’s (2005) tripartite framing of equity (recognition, redistribution and representation). The analysis suggests that significant shifts in defining curriculum have occurred, reducing teacher, student and community participation, thereby constraining democratic options for curricular debates, making it difficult to focus on equity except in terms of test outcomes of particular social groups. Wider debates on equity, such as contributions to debates about knowledge, linked to interests, capabilities and spheres of action, have few venues in which they can be addressed, and little capacity to influence policy.
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