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Curriculum theory, curriculum policy and the problem of ill-disciplined thinking

Harris, R. ORCID: and Burn, K. (2011) Curriculum theory, curriculum policy and the problem of ill-disciplined thinking. Journal of Education Policy, 26 (2). pp. 245-261. ISSN 1464-5106

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2010.498902


This paper examines the implications of policy fracture and arms length governance within the decision making processes currently shaping curriculum design within the English education system. In particular it argues that an unresolved ‘ideological fracture’ at government level has been passed down to school leaders whose response to the dilemma is distorted by the target-driven agenda of arms length agencies. Drawing upon the findings of a large scale on-line survey of history teaching in English secondary schools, this paper illustrates the problems that occur when policy making is divorced from curriculum theory, and in particular from any consideration of the nature of knowledge. Drawing on the social realist theory of knowledge elaborated by Young (2008), we argue that the rapid spread of alternative curricular arrangements, implemented in the absence of an understanding of curriculum theory, undermines the value of disciplined thinking to the detriment of many young people, particularly those in areas of social and economic deprivation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:24591
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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