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Selected Works

Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson

Coming to Curriculum

Life before teaching

My own vision and version of schooling in general and curriculum in particular was much influenced by my own social origins.  I was born in 1943 in Woodley near Reading in Berkshire.  My father was a Gas Fitter and my mother was at the time working in a munitions factory.  My dad was the youngest of 13 children and was preceded by 12 sisters. His father appears on most of the children's birth certificates as 'unemployed labourer', but twice, in moments of fortune, as 'railway platelayer'.  He died (in the old workhouse) before I was born.  The mother took in laundry and lived to be 98 years old.  On my mother's side, there were seven children.  Her mother and father worked in a variety of jobs and in 1929 they were running a cafe in a working class district of Reading where my mum and dad met.

When I first went to school at the age of six I couldn't read.  But I did find school a fascinating as well as disturbing experience.  In my village you did not go to school gladly.  I still remember that long walk to school on the first day and seeing one of my mates, Paul Sharp, clinging to the gatepost of his house and screaming blue murder as his mum tried to detach him and take him off to his first day of 'state edification' (an uncle's phrase!).

A few years ago, I tried to summarise my 'personal points of entry' into studies of schooling.  So let me continue the story with an extended quote:

My own parents viewed the achievement of 'their' Labour government after the war as most clearly demonstrated by the new schooling, which was offered to me and to other working people's children.  Here, I was told, was the chance to learn, a chance to start to understand the world in which I was growing up.

Yet, from the beginning I experienced odd contradictions, for while I was supposed to learn, most of the questions for which I sought answers were not on the school's agenda.  They were, it is true, mainly childish questions but they turned on my understanding of the world at the time.  They were things that we talked about at home:  Why did my father work so hard?  Why did I not see him in the mornings, or until late in the evening?  Why did my mother go to work to 'support me'?  Why were all the fields I played in being developed by more and larger 'council estates'?  Why did we have to walk (or later, ride) more than three miles to school?  Why was the school in a 'posh' village and not in my village?  Why were the children from my village treated differently to the children from the immediate school locality?

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  • Date of publication: 15/09/2005
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies, Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £27.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-35220-8
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