Unnatural selection : curricular conversations in TIP 1962–2012

Doherty, Catherine A. & Briant, Elizabeth (2013) Unnatural selection : curricular conversations in TIP 1962–2012. Theory Into Practice, 52(S1), pp. 42-51.

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Our task is to consider the evolving perspectives around curriculum documented in the Theory Into Practice (TIP) corpus to date. The 50 years in question, 1962–2012, account for approximately half the history of mass institutionalized schooling. Over this time, the upper age of compulsory schooling has crept up, stretching the school curriculum's reach, purpose, and clientele. These years also span remarkable changes in the social fabric, challenging deep senses of the nature and shelf-life of knowledge, whose knowledge counts, what science can and cannot deliver, and the very purpose of education. The school curriculum is a key social site where these challenges have to be addressed in a very practical sense, through a design on the future implemented within the resources and politics of the present.

The task's metaphor of ‘evolution’ may invoke a sense of gradual cumulative improvement, but equally connotes mutation, hybridization, extinction, survival of the fittest, and environmental pressures. Viewed in this way, curriculum theory and practice cannot be isolated and studied in laboratory conditions—there is nothing natural, neutral, or self-evident about what knowledge gets selected into the curriculum. Rather, the process of selection unfolds as a series of messy, politically contaminated, lived experiments; thus curriculum studies require field work in dynamic open systems. We subscribe to Raymond Williams' approach to social change, which he argues is not absolute and abrupt, one set of ideas neatly replacing the other. For Williams, newly emergent ideas have to compete against the dominant mindset and residual ideas “still active in the cultural process'” (Williams, 1977, p. 122). This means ongoing debates. For these reasons, we join Schubert (1992) in advocating “continuous reconceptualising of the flow of experience” (p. 238) by both researchers and practitioners.

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ID Code: 61545
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: curriculum, knowledge, diversity, social change
DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2013.795441
ISSN: 1543-0421
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright © The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
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Deposited On: 28 Jul 2013 23:48
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2015 18:24

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