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Selected Works

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

Towards a Social Constructionist Perspective

Social constructionist perspectives therefore seek a re-integrated focus for studies of curriculum.  Moving away from singular focus whether on idealized practice or actual practice towards developing data on social construction at both pre-active and interactive levels.  At this point in time, as I have argued elsewhere, the most significant lacuna for such a reconceptualized programme of study are historical studies of the social construction of school curricula.  We really know very little about how the subjects and themes prescribed in schools originate, are promoted and re-defined, and metamorphose.

Hence work on the history of the social construction of school curricula is a vital pre-requisite for reconceptualized curriculum study.  Fortunately however, a good deal of work has been undertaken in the last decade which is coming to fruition.  The series Studies in Curriculum History now comprises volumes which provide a wide range of different studies of the social construction of school curricula (Goodson). New studies are now being commissioned for this series and in time we hope to have a fairly comprehensive set of studies of the origins and promotion of curricula in a range of settings and at a range of levels.  Other work, especially in North America, complements this initiative and develops our understanding of the contestation which has surrounded the development of prescriptive curricula (Kliebard 1975).

In The Making of Curriculum I have worked with and across the range of foci listed (Goodson 1988) from the individual to the group and collective.  In particular I have sought to examine individual life histories and how these allow us to develop themes and frameworks for viewing structures and organizations.  Some of the individual testimonies provided in this book show how teachers come to understand and reflect upon the broader contexts in which their professional lives are embedded.  In Chapter 7, for instance, I conclude

in the life of Patrick Johnson we gain insights into him wrestling with imperatives in the social structure.  From his early professional life he develops a vision of how schools might be, this vision is challenged and defeated as subject specialism and examinations invade the early secondary modern schools; we see how one educational ideology is initially replaced by another as the teacher's career is constructed; the ideological renunciation only follows his retirement at the end of his career.  Our attention is, therefore, left on the link between the structuring of material interests, strategies for career aggrandizement and the acceptance of particular educational ideologies (Goodson 1988, p.112).
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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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