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Curriculum Studies

The Changing Curriculum: studies in social construction

Chariots of Fire

By the turn of the century the epistemology, with which we are familiar, was emerging. Thus:

By the 20th Century, the batch production rhetoric of the 'classroom system' (for example, lessons, subjects, timetables, grading, standardisation, streaming) had become so pervasive that it successfully achieved a normative status - creating the standards against which all subsequent educational innovations came to be judged (Hamilton 1980, p. 282).

The dominant epistemology, which characterised state schooling by the beginning of the twentieth century, combined the trilogy of pedagogy, curriculum and evaluation. The last of the pieces in the trilogy was the establishment of university examination boards and here the side effects on curriculum were to be both pervasive and long lasting. The classroom system inaugurated a world of timetables and compartmentalised lessons; the curriculum manifestation of this systemic change was the school subject. If 'class and curriculum' entered educational discourse when schooling was transformed into a mass activity in England 'classroom system and school subject' emerged at the stage at which that mass activity became a state-subsidised system with a secondary sector. And in spite of the many alternative ways of conceptualising and organising curriculum the convention of the subject retains its supremacy. In the modern era, in secondary schooling, we are essentially dealing with the curriculum as subject.

Whilst this system was inaugurated in the 1850s it was established on the present footing with the definition of the Secondary Regulations in 1904 which list the main subjects, followed by the establishment of a subject-based 'School Certificate' in 1917. From this date curriculum conflict began to resemble the existing situation in focusing on the definition and evaluation of examinable knowledge. Hence the School Certificate subjects rapidly became the overriding concern of grammar schools and the academic subjects it examined soon established ascendancy on these schools' timetables. In 1941 Norwood reported that:

a certain sameness in the curriculum of schools resulted from the double necessity of finding a place for the many subjects competing for time in the curriculum and the need to teach these subjects in such a way and to such a standard as will ensure success in the School Certificate examination.
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The Changing Curriculum
  • Date of publication: 08/08/1997
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 210
  • Publisher: Peter Lang
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    The Changing Curriculum: studies in social construction
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £20.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8204-2609-9
  • Buy used and new from: Amazon UK