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Selected Works

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

Coming to Curriculum

Anyone scrutinising contemporary comprehensive schools will find this alternative tradition alive and well.  Unfortunately a closer look will show that it is only the ‘less able’ of ‘CSE and non-examination’ students who receive the alternative curriculum.  The 'O' level and 'A' level examinations continue to stress precisely those traditional views of knowledge derived from the grammar school. So, if it's the working class alternative view of knowledge that turns you on take your place in the CSE and non-examination stream, otherwise take the schizophrenic route through 'O's and 'A's, BA's and PhD's away from home and kinship, away from roots and class (Goodson 1979).

My sense of biography was no doubt heightened by the teaching I undertook at the University of Sussex in 1975-77.  I was asked to teach a 'contextual' course on 'working class lifestyles'.  The course was optional but attracted a large number of students, mostly working class.  In the course the students were encouraged to write up their reminiscences of life and schooling in line with the course rhetoric 'that the most important resource will be the life histories of course participants'.  The course forced me to think long and hard about class, culture and curriculum and since I was at the time developing a scheme for my doctoral work the two tasks converged.  I certainly realised that my own views about pedagogy and curriculum were projected through a prism of social class that had much in common with other working class peoples' experiences.  I came across Albert Hunt's interesting book about his working class experience of schooling.

Hunt blamed above all the teacher's assumption that because he is deeply involved with a particular subject that subject must be of value and interest to everybody else.  So a subject is placed at the 'centre of all education' - and a failure to make that subject come to life becomes the teachers' failure.  But in Hunt's experience, as in mine and that of my students at Sussex, initially it was the subjects themselves which ensured nothing came to life:

Virtually nothing in the whole of my formal educational experience had ever connected with me in a way that involved me - me as a person.  I had feelings, convictions, commitments to ideas and people.  None of these seemed related to my work...  Everything existed for me in fragments (Hunt 1987).

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  • Date of publication: 15/09/2005
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Co-author: NAN
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies, Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
    English
  • 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
  • Purchase this book:
    Routledge
  • Buy used and new from: amazon