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Curriculum Studies

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

On Curriculum Form

A less theoretical justification for analyses of curriculum form is the pervasiveness of what Connell has called the "competitive academic curriculum". This form of curriculum sets the agenda and the discourse for schooling in many countries. The results are fairly generalizable:

To say it is hegemonic is not to say it is the only curriculum in those schools. It is to say that this pattern has pride of place in those schools; it dominates most people's ideas of what real learning is about. Its logic has the most powerful influence on the organisation of the school and of the education system generally; and it is also to marginal or subordinate the other curricula that are present: Above all 'the competitive academic curriculum makes the sorting and the hardening of hearts a central reality of contemporary school life’(Connell 1985, p.87).

Yet the continuing dominance of the competitive academic curriculum is the result of a continuing contest within school subjects.

Conceptions of ‘Mentalities’

By way of exemplifying a broader conception for studying school subjects I will examine the emergence of certain conceptions of ‘mentalities’ as they provide antecedent assumptions for our contemporary social construction of school knowledge. In doing this I am building on the work of others and am not following a consistent line of development. I might therefore be justifiably accused of raiding history, of dipping into periods without full knowledge or portrayal of the complexity of context. But my objective is not so much a sustained historical explanation as to show how antecedent factors could be a factor in contemporary construction and consciousness. The aim is to show how we might pursue a longer time perspective on current events and how in doing this we might provide a reconceptualization of the mode of curriculum study which will allow us to connect specific acts of social construction to wider social impulses.

The notion of 'mentality' owes a good deal to the work of the Annaliste School of historians. Following them, I take the view that in studying historical periods it is important to generate insights into the world views held by distinct cultural and sub-cultural groups. In this sense mentality is related to the micro-concept of 'habitus' as developed by Bourdieu and Passeron(1977) or 'resistance' as a distinctive view held by British working class 'lads' in the work of Paul Willis (1977).

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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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