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Article

Kelly P. Vaughan

The field of curriculum studies in the United States has transformed from an area of study primarily concerned with curriculum development in schools to one focused on understanding and theorizing curriculum inside and outside of schools. Since the 1960s, the field of curriculum studies also has become more historical. Curriculum history, as a subset of curriculum studies, originated during the reconceptualization of curriculum studies and debates about revisionism within those studying histories of education. The field of curriculum history emerged with a range of perspectives (revisionist, critical, international, postmodern), areas of focus (intellectual histories, single event accounts, biographies, institutional practices), and source materials. The differences in both theoretical perspectives and methodologies require that we move away from the idea of a singular account of curriculum history and toward the concept of a multiplicity of curriculum histories. In the period of post-reconceptualized curriculum studies, curriculum historians have moved the field in multiple methodological and theoretical directions. The areas of curriculum studies and curriculum history continue to develop and change. There are efforts to create a more international understanding of curriculum history. There are also efforts to move beyond linear narratives of progress and revisionist efforts to speak into this field’s silences. Within this complex field, curriculum studies scholars and curriculum historians will continue to grapple with the relationships of past, present, and future; with connections between theory and practice; and with expanding (both geographically and epistemologically) ways of understanding.

Article

Gabriel Huddleston and Robert Helfenbein

Curriculum theory is shaped and held within the larger field of curriculum studies, but its distinctive focus on understanding curriculum as opposed to developing it places it is stark contrast with other parts of the larger field. This focus is further distinctive when curriculum theory shifts to curriculum theorizing. Curriculum theorizing emerged in the United States, principally at Bergamo conferences and precursor conferences, in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), and through scholars associated with the reconceptualization. It has spread internationally via the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and its subsidiaries in many different countries and cultures. Some scholars hold that curriculum theory includes curriculum theorizing as well as normative and analytic conceptualizations that justify or explain curriculum decisions and actions. Curriculum theorizing attempts to read broadly in social theory so as to embody those insights in dealing with issues of curriculum, and can take philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or cultural studies approaches to analyses, interpretations, criticisms, and improvements. This approach has built upon what has become known as the reconceptualization, which began in the late 1970s and continues into the early 21st century. Increasingly, the field has taken up analysis of contemporary education policy and sociopolitical contexts as an outgrowth of its work. Issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, and the ways in which their intersectionality impact the lived experience of schools, continue to motivate and direct the field of curriculum studies. In so doing, criticism, analysis, interpretation, and expansion of such issues have moved the focus of curriculum theorizing to include any aspects of social and psychological life that educate or shape the ways human beings reflect upon or interact with the world.

Article

Curriculum studies has paid attention to its history through writings, conference presentations, and the development of professional and personal relationships in the field over the course of many decades. As contemporary scholarship and educational practices take shape, they are built on ideas and practices of the past, of course. One commitment of scholar-practitioners engaged in curriculum studies is to work across the field to understand the nature of movements in thought and practice as they manifest in the field’s literature and have an impact (or not) on educational entities where teaching and learning take place. The author offers a description of an ongoing curriculum project with doctoral students that has historical implications for the curriculum field and represents an example of this ongoing, complicated conversation in the field of curriculum studies. Students work with the author during a course on curriculum theory to create research essays examining books from the curriculum field, ultimately producing volumes of their work for current consumption by scholars. Their article treatments of past, historic curriculum books and the entire project are meant to challenge and reclaim the foundational ideas imbedded in the field of curriculum studies. The author discusses the nature of the work at hand, historical implications of the current work, and the potential the project poses for future work.

Article

John Rury and Susan Twombly

The American collegiate curriculum has undergone significant change in the past two centuries. From its beginning through much of the 19th century a classical curricular approach prevailed, focusing on ancient languages and the liberal arts, while favoring recitation and debate as instructional modalities. The rise of “land-grant” institutions with a focus on practical instruction in agriculture, engineering, and military sciences in the later 19th century was a harbinger of change. It was followed by the rise of research institutions and comprehensive universities that further emphasized the importance of practical and professional education. The adoption of an elective approach to course-taking and the development of college majors led to debates about core curricula and the need for general education. Following publication of the famous Harvard Red Book in 1948, a broad consensus regarding the need for a liberal arts core emerged in the postwar era and has broadly persisted. Since the 1980s, new debates have emerged about the content of the core and curricular innovations intended to augment student learning. Older content representing a “canon” of received knowledge or wisdom has been challenged by proponents of non-Western, feminist, or oppressed minority perspectives, not always successfully. New instructional modalities, including online and “flipped” courses, have also impacted longstanding curricular practices. New models for assessing and planning collegiate curricula also have emerged. But if a particular theme has predominated in such changes, it is that student and societal demands for more practical and marketable learning outcomes have continued to exert an outsized influence on the ever evolving American collegiate curriculum.

Article

Julie C. Garlen

Since the beginning of Western modernity, evolving perceptions of what childhood “should” be have shaped public discourse around what knowledge is of most worth and informed paradigms of curriculum development. Thus, “the child,” the discursive construct that emerges from dominant ideologies about the nature and purpose of childhood, is a critical artifact in understanding contemporary curriculum in the United States. Significantly, “the child” has operated as a key mechanism to reproduce and expand particular logics about who counts as fully human. In this way, curriculum is implicated in social injustices premised on the protection and futurity of “the child.” Tracing the history of conceptions of “the child” as they relate to curriculum development and theory illuminates the ways that childhood and curriculum are intertwined, and illustrates how childhood operates as a malleable social construct that is mobilized for diverse and sometimes contradictory political purposes.

Article

Petra Munro Hendry

Within contemporary, conventional, interpretive, qualitative paradigms, narrative and curriculum theorizing have traditionally been understood as primary constructs through which educational researchers seek to explain, represent, and conduct inquiry about education. This article traces shifting understandings of Western constructs of narrative and curriculum theorizing from a modernist perspective, in which they were conceived primarily as methods central to the representation of knowledge, to postmodernist perspectives in which they are conceptualized not as epistemological constructs, but as ethical/ontological systems of becoming through/in relationships. Historically, the emergence of “curriculum” and “narrative” (as phenomena) within a modernist, technocratic paradigm, rooted in an epistemological worldview, were constructed as “technologies” whose purpose was to represent knowledge. Current critiques of narrative and curriculum theorizing from the perspective of postmodern, poststructural, feminist, and new materialist perspectives illuminate understandings of these constructs as ethical-ontological-epistemological phenomena. From this perspective, narrative and curriculum theorizing have shifted from being understood as grounded in epistemology in order to provide “better” understanding/knowledge of experience, and alternatively are understood as ethical obligations to “be” in a web of relationships/intra-actions.

Article

Queer theory is a tool that can be used to reconsider sociopolitical, historical, and cultural norms and values. Similarly, in qualitative research, queer theory tends to analyze the narratives of LGBTQ+ people and groups in ways that seek to queer everyday experiences. Both the theoretical framework and the narratives collected and analyzed in qualitative research are significant to unpacking business-as-usual in and across sociocultural contexts. This is especially true for systems of schooling, whereby LGBTQ+ people and groups are marginalized through schooling and schools, a process of exclusion that is detrimental to queer youth who are learning in spaces and places specifically designed against their ways of being and knowing. The significance of qualitative research as it meets the framework of queer theory is that it offers a practically and institutionally queered set of voices, perspectives, and understandings with which to think about the everyday in schools. This becomes increasingly important as schooling has historically been a place in which LGBTQ+ students and groups have resided at an intersection, where the sociopolitical and cultural marginalization that keeps the status quo in place crosses with contemporary values that both interrupt and reify such histories.

Article

William H. Schubert

Curriculum studies can be characterized by dominant questions asked by those who have participated in the field over the years. Most of the questions that have dominated inquiry and praxis are variations on the central curriculum question: What is worthwhile? In the mid-19th century, the focus was on what knowledge was deemed most worthwhile, especially for elementary and secondary education, as nations began to take charge of what was taught and learned in schools. Most of the questions that characterize curriculum history continued to be debated and studied throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Arguments ensued about how developmental appropriateness, school and nonschool experience, and science or efficiency contributed to an understanding of what is worthwhile. Curriculum scholars and curriculum workers continue to address how to meet individual and social interests and needs and how curriculum of education should improve society. Curriculum studies offers guiding questions for studying, reflecting on, developing, or enacting curriculum derived from publications of curriculum scholars and policy makers. After the middle of the 20th century, many of the previously established questions were challenged by new generations of curriculum scholars who criticized the dominance of powerful political, racial, gender, and cultural groups in determining what should be taught and learned in schools; that is, the sources of what human beings should be and become. They questioned the capability of schools as institutions of nations that have become corporate states to guide this task for the benefit of all. Critiques have continued to proliferate regarding who benefits and who is harmed by questions that guide curriculum scholarship, policy, and practice in schools and all other societal institutions and relationships that educate. Much discrimination has been identified that provides markedly less educational benefit to those who are not part of the majority culture. The interests of wealthy White males are often privileged, and the needs of racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, those who have disabilities, and those who are otherwise different are harmed. Moreover, the purposes of education in schooling seem to be to advance the benefits accorded to powerful and privileged groups. To understand this situation, curriculum scholars have drawn upon questions derived from critical theory and cultural studies. Curriculum studies literature also offers ideas for creating curricula that benefit more of humanity throughout the world, as well as seeking insights from many different world cultures, including indigenous and grassroots ones. A larger question deals with the extent to which humans are able to construct educational opportunities wherein all are educated in worthwhile ways. Struggles over meanings of “worthwhile” continue to resound throughout curriculum studies scholarship and its influence on educational policy and practice and concomitant impacts on the world.

Article

Altering a dual system of education (special and ordinary) in South Africa to an inclusive system requires substantial change in terms of thinking and practice. After almost 20 years of implementing Education White Paper 6 (published by South Africa’s Department of Education in 2001), it is very important that theories, assumptions, practices, models, and tools are put under intense scrutiny for such an inclusive policy to work. Such a single system of education should develop the capacity to address barriers to learning if it wants to include all learners into the system. What are the main barriers that deprive learners from access to a single system of education and what changes should take place so that a truly inclusive system can be created? South Africa introduced seven white papers in education but all of them were implemented in ways that were not entirely influenced by the theory and practice of inclusive education. Inclusive education requires the system to change at a structural level so that mainstream education takes ownership of the ideology and practice of inclusive education. This change should bring about consistency in relation to other white papers; for example, curriculum development, early childhood education, and adult education. In implementing inclusive education, South Africa did not take seriously the various barriers to inclusion, such as curriculum, in providing access to learners who experience difficulties. Thus, an in-depth analysis of the history of special education is provided, with a view toward specifying recommendations for attempts to create the right conditions for a truly inclusive system of education in South Africa.

Article

Lisa Farley and Debbie Sonu

Childhood studies is an interdisciplinary area of theory and research comprised of intersecting fields that have evolved since the inception of childhood itself. Despite the pervasiveness of psychological frameworks that predominate early studies of childhood and that continue to dominate within teacher education programs, paradigmatic shifts within childhood studies have opened critical questions about the exclusive social norms, racial privileges, and unequal life chances maintained by the idea of childhood as a biologically determined and universal stage of life. Across a range of perspectives, critical scholarship in childhood studies begins with the idea that childhood is a social and historical construction tied to colonial discourses and ongoing injustices that have material effects on children’s lives. Drawing on the fields of history, sociology, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and educational theory, scholars of childhood show how childhood is inextricably bound to philosophical ideals, political forces, social constructs, and emotional conflicts. In identifying and interrogating the ways that race, class, ability, gender, and sexuality affect and limit meanings of childhood, scholars open new metaphors for rethinking social life, development, belonging, relationality, and existence as such.

Article

Mary Newbery

Since the 1960s, feminist curriculum scholarship and social and political activism have been entangled in mutually influential ways. Feminist engagements with difference demonstrate the complex ways the field of curriculum studies is immersed in the cultural, social, and political commitments of the wider communities in which it inhabits. As second-wave feminist scholars grappled with their understandings of and resistances to the “Man” of liberal humanism occurring in the United States amid the social and political upheavals occurring in the United States beginning in the late 1950s, feminist curriculum scholars engaged in related academic endeavors. For example, prevalent themes in these “early” feminist curriculum scholars’ work included taking up feminist themes of “the personal as political” and women’s solidarity as a political strategy enacted to resist patriarchy. By the 1980s, however, feminist scholars began to decenter the universal, humanist subject amid widespread critiques of the lack of inclusivity in second-wave feminisms. These efforts helped complexify our understandings of the “we” of feminism(s) and feminist curriculum studies. These decenterings led to what some have called an identity crisis in both mainstream and academic renderings of feminism(s), characterized by two distinct and oftentimes factionalized feminist approaches for understanding difference. The first was the adoption of identity politics as the foundation for theories and activisms directed toward emancipatory ideals and outcomes. From this perspective, solidarity within identity groups became a feminist strategy on which to build knowledge projects and activisms. The second, sometimes categorized under the umbrella of poststructural feminism(s), understood freedom as deriving from a rejection of identity as static, and instead dismissed the notion of foundational subjectivity as a precursor for both feminist scholarship and political activism. In feminist curriculum studies, these developments led to troublings of teachers’ autobiographical subjectivity and challenges to historical accounts that include the interrogation of humanist notions of representation, reflection, and linearity, for example. Not all relationships with feminism(s) fit into this category, however. The political and cultural environment of the 1980s included the rise of a highly mobilized New Right, characterized in the United States by the Reagan and Bush Sr. presidencies, a deteriorating job market in Western economies, deregulation, an acceleration of asymmetrical flows of global capital, transnational trade agreements, and the exploitation of non-Western job markets for cheap labor. This led to new and different intertwinings of feminism and neoliberal capitalism. As a result, both mainstream and academic feminism(s) were increasingly engaged with the paradoxes and contradictions of postfeminism, a concept utilized to characterize both an acknowledgment and rejection of feminism(s) during this era. By the second decade of the new millennium, a fourth wave seemed imminent, brought on by global responses to the September 11, 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and hashtag movements such as #me too and #Bringbackourgirls movements. As bodies, capital, and the material world mingle and flow in newly explored and complex ways, emergent trends in feminist curriculum studies include an increased interest in the non-human, posthuman, and more-than-human worlds and the ways they intra-act with feminist new materialist theories and post-anthropocentric worlds.

Article

Nicoletta (Niki) Christodoulou, Miranda Christou, and Maria Hadjipavlou

Oral history offers unique meaning for curriculum studies by presenting, analyzing, and interpreting experiences and memories of participants in an educational situation. The situation and context of Cyprus, an island with protracted conflicts and ethnical division, provides sites of illustration for oral history in curriculum studies. Couched in an historical background of oral history and definitions, as well as characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of narrative inquiry, the essence and application of oral history can be conveyed through the case of Cyprus. Oral history projects undertaken in Cyprus are conveyed, with prominent reference to the Cyprus Oral History Project (COHP), which has delineated the nuances of language, performance, and creation of pedagogical spaces. For example, COHP established a link among oral history, curriculum, instruction, and education, which has been used in Cyprus to understand memory as curriculum and to rethink issues of language and curricular questions in light of the knowledge drawn from oral histories. Further, oral history projects in Cyprus have delineated refugee trauma through the description of loss, painful memories, and silence; how narratives worked as significant evidence and material in conflict and reconciliation workshops; and the importance of the gender lens of oral history in Cyprus. The themes of cultivating historical consciousness, shaping responses to conflict, discomforting pedagogy, memory and trauma, and their role in the reunification process have been explored extensively through such projects; yet, more extensive work needs to be done. The number of oral history projects is still limited, yet there is still so much to be uncovered through people’s narrations. In the case of Cyprus, oral history is considered as a source of information about ordinary people’s lives but also for the role it can play in understanding how being dispossessed and returning to the homeland can reconstruct and reorganize education and culture. The uses of oral history to understand curriculum in Cyprus is offered as an example for modified use for exploring a broader sphere of curriculum studies in other settings.

Article

Malay philosophies of education refer to the educational thoughts of Malay philosophers from the period of the Islamization of the Malay world in the 13th century up to the present. Malay refers to an ethnic group with the Malay language as the major language of communication. The Malay world refers to the region in Southeast Asia comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, southern Thailand, pockets of Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), and the southern Philippines. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the region in the 13th century, the Malay people were influenced by Hinduism, and some remnants of Hindu practices such as the conduct of the wedding ceremony and yellow being the color of royalty are still visible today. Islamization revolutionized the Malay worldview with a new ontology, cosmology, and monotheism. Moreover, the Malay language was elevated as a scientific and literary language and became a lingua franca that was widely used for communication, while Jawi script (Arabic) was used in writing, such that the region became known as the Malay world. Malay philosophies of education are very intricately related to Islamic philosophy or the Islamic worldview. Hamka, a 20th century Indonesian scholar, states that his Malayness is totally integrated with Islamic elements. Thus, the Malays’ understanding of Islam determines the goals of education. Historically, the goals of Malay education developed from the focus on the hereafter and sufism due to the nature of Islam received by the Malays at this particular time. Al-Ghazali, al-Shafie, and al-Ash’ari were among the scholars who exerted great influence on Malay scholarship. The philosophy of Malay education changed as a result of colonization by Western powers that established schools offering a liberal, secular education. However, contact with Muslim reformers in Egypt, specifically Muhammad Abduh, led to the reform of Islamic traditional schools. Hence, there was a shift in focus to reason, philosophy, and science with a closer reading of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the goals of education emphasized the study of the acquired sciences and the use of reason. As a consequence, there were many efforts to change the existing educational institutions in terms of their curriculum. Finally, after independence, attempts were made to integrate the dualistic educational system—liberal, secular public school and traditional, religious schools—through an educational philosophy and curriculum that is holistic, integrated, and balanced, but that is also faith-based. It is not adequate to have both the acquired and revealed sciences merely coexisting but compartmentalized in the curriculum, for their values may still be conflicting. Thus, the concept of the Islamization of contemporary knowledge was deliberated and subsequently attempted. This is the climax of the unity of knowledge that is enshrined in the Islamic worldview. The educational landscape in the Malay world has been shaped by the thought patterns of Muslim scholars and the Islamic worldview.