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Historical knowledge in a knowledge economy – what types of knowledge matter?

Harris, R. ORCID: and Ormond, B. (2019) Historical knowledge in a knowledge economy – what types of knowledge matter? Educational Review, 71 (5). pp. 564-580. ISSN 1465-3397

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2018.1462764


This article examines the potential of history as a subject to contribute to a ‘knowledge economy’. Global trends in curricula reforms have often emphasised generic competences and development of students’ critical thinking to benefit the future economic position of citizens and nations. However, viewing knowledge in these terms presents a reductive view, particularly given that there is no clear definition of the nature of the knowledge which could or should be universally deployed in the pursuit of a ‘knowledge economy’. This paper presents an argument that a focus on ‘powerful’ disciplinary knowledge and ‘valuable’ frameworks of knowledge, in areas such as history education rather than generic competences and skills, would better serve a knowledge economy. Drawing on two empirical studies from England and New Zealand, which present different policy contexts, the paper explores the extent to which the potential of history education is being realised to develop such powerful and valuable knowledge. The data reveal similar patterns in both contexts; despite the history teachers in both countries sharing a disciplinary understanding of the subject this is not comprehensively reflected in the curricula they construct, and there are few attempts to create coherent frameworks of knowledge. This suggests that the opportunities for history education to support the development of a knowledge economy have not been fully realised and exploited.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:76374
Uncontrolled Keywords:history curriculum; knowledge; knowledge economy; disciplinary knowledge: curriculum; curriculum design


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