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Selected Works

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

Towards a Social Constructionist Perspective

The Devil's Bargain:  Critiques and Counters

I do not wish however to mount a substantial critique of C.A.P. in this paper.  That has already been attempted, in my view with conclusive success, in many other places.  My intention is rather to briefly repeat that critique and then explore the new directions in which we might progress if we are to provide a valid counter-culture for curriculum research.

In terms of the diagnosis of the problem they are at one with Schwab. Let me briefly repeat:

The field of curriculum is moribund.  It is unable, by its present methods and principles, to continue its work and contribute significantly to the advancement of education.  It requires new principles which will generate a new view of the character and variety of its problems.  It requires new methods appropriate to the new budget of problems (Schwab 1978, p. 287).

Schwab was absolutely clear why the curriculum field was moribund; his indictment is plain and powerful:

The curriculum field has reached this unhappy state by inveterate, unexamined, and mistaken reliance on theory.  On the one hand it has adopted theories (from outside the field of education) concerning ethics, knowledge, political and social structure, learning, mind, and personality, and has used these borrowed theories theoretically, i.e. as principles from which to 'deduce' right aims and procedures for schools and classrooms.  On the other hand, it has attempted construction of educational theories, particularly theories of curriculum and instruction.

Schwab then lists the 'grave difficulties (incoherence of the curriculum, failure and discontinuity in actual schooling)' to which theoretic activities have led. This is because

theoretical constructions are, in the main, ill-fitted and inappropriate to problems of actual teaching and learning.  Theory, by its very character, does not and cannot take account of all the matters which are crucial to questions of what, who, and how to teach:  that is, theories cannot be applied as principles to the solution of problems concerning what to do with or for real individuals, small groups, or real institutions located in time and space - the subjects and clients of schooling and schools (Schwab 1978, p. 289).
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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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