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Selected Works

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

Coming to Curriculum

Fundamentally the teachers' curriculum seems totally out of spirit with emergent patterns of authority and schooling.  Moreover the very nature of the knowledge transmitted through the teachers' curriculum is a source of further conflict because of its class-based and obsolescent characteristics.  In this situation the choice would appear to be between using more repressive methods in school in an attempt to reverse the emerging patterns, and testing new curriculum models (Goodson 1975).

By 1976 this optimistic posture had been redefined to a much more defensive tone - ruminating about 'the substantial forces maintaining transmission as the dominant pedagogy'.

Making Connections

The chapter begins to make links between my involvement in pedagogic and curriculum reform, my growing frustration at the more general obstruction of reform efforts and an emerging understanding of patterns of social and political organisation and control in British society in the mid-1970s.  This emerging sense of the link between knowledge and control was of course partially derived from the current work in the new Sociology of Knowledge but it also, as we have seen, was driven by a strong sense of personal quest.  Interestingly a review I did at the time of Whitty and Young's Society, State and Schooling speculated on this juxtaposition commenting on their contention that:

Neither the old-Left, nor the Fabian social democrats, seem to take seriously the suggestion that the educational policies they support merely provide more efficient means of maintaining the status quo.  Certainly neither group seems to have recognised that we need to examine 'what counts as education', and thus the way in which prevailing definitions of it sustain just that form of society which those on the Left, albeit in varying degrees wish to change.

I wrote:

To any working-class person who has experienced grammar school and university education (in this case both as child and teacher) this contention strikes one with all the force that a statement of the obvious can muster.  As Williams noted nearly two decades ago, when the University Local Examinations Boards that led to 'O' and 'A' levels were first established they were titled ‘Middle class examinations’.  Significantly it was this examination system which survived and that was built into the fabric of secondary education.  The alternative tradition developed by the working class in the mechanics Institutes and in adult education stressed all those things that the middle class examinations of abstract and classical knowledge played down-the relation of school knowledge to contemporary life, the students role in choosing and directing study, equality between general discussion and expert tuition.

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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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