23 SES 05 A, Curriculum Policy Reforms and Their Implications (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 23 SES 06 A
This study is part of the project 'Understanding Curriculum Reforms - A Theory-Oriented Evaluation of the Swedish Curriculum Reform Lgr 11'. In the last two decades transnational organizations and agreements have become increasingly important as driving forces in the making of curriculum. The international education policy movement towards so-called standards-based curricula has been characterized by top-down accountability and linear dissemination (Andersson-Levitt, 2008; Sivesind & Karseth, 2010). This also applies to the formation of Swedish curriculum policy discourses. The latest Swedish curriculum for compulsory School “Lgr11” can foremost be described in line with such a standards-based curriculum, where the objectives and standards, but also the content, are prescribed and put in the foreground for what students ought to do and know (Sundberg & Wahlström, 2012).
Although these policies are transnational and nationally oriented, it is in the same time up to schools and teachers on the local level to interpret and enact the curriculum, in classrooms and in the interaction between teachers and students. This unarguably raises questions about the curriculum-in-use, i.e. how is teaching performed? The ‘what’ that is prescribed in the (trans-)national policy is one thing, but researchers rarely take notice of the fact that recontextualisation, selection, translation, relocation and refocus of content indeed occurs in the local school setting. Therefore, the overall aim of this paper is to explore how a standards-based oriented curriculum, Lgr 11, is enacted at the local school level.
In a first step, the process of the selection of teaching content will be studied. A central question here is how and on what foundations the selection of teaching content is made when prescribed content and learning outcomes is given a central role in the curriculum structure? Secondly – which relates to the selection of content – we examine how the same curriculum is achieved in teaching and learning practices at classroom level in terms of knowledge content. What content seems to dominate the teaching in favour for another under a standard-based oriented curriculum like Lgr 11?
To understand the conditions for teachers’ selection of content we bring theoretical inspiration from a “classical” framework of curriculum theory in terms of the “frame-factor theory” (Dahlöf, 1967; Lundgren, 1989). This theoretical perspective puts the relationship between teaching processes, outcomes and external (frame-) factors in focus. In other words, to understand processes and outcomes in the teaching practice you have to, from this theoretical perspective, analyse the frame-factors, for example time, equipment, the composition of the class and (of course) the current curriculum, that in different ways enable and limit these processes and outcomes. When we in a next step examine the curriculum content in teaching we bring inspiration from Deng & Luke’s (2008) discussion about different knowledge classification schemes and conceptions. From this discussion we derived three conceptions of knowledge, in terms of an academic disciplinary knowledge conception; a practical knowledge conception and an experiential” knowledge conception. These knowledge conceptions will be used to identify and discuss different aspects of lesson content in the investigated teaching practice.
Andersson-Levitt, K. M. (2008), Globalization and curriculum, in M. F. Con-nelly, red, The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction, (s 329-348), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. Bellack, A.A.; Kliebard, H.M.;Hyman, R.T. & Smith, F.L. (1966). The language of the classroom. New York: Teachers College Press. Deng, Z & Luke, A (2008). Subject matter. Defining and theorizing school subjects. In connnelly, Michael (Ed). The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication. Dahllöf, U. 1967: Skoldifferentiering och undervisningsförlopp [School differentiation and teaching processes]. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. Gustafsson, C. (1977). Classroom Interaction. A study of pedagogical roles in the teaching process. Stockholm: Gotab. Jackson, P. W. (1968/1990). Life in classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press. Lundgren, U. P. (1981). Model analysis of pedagogical processes. Lund: Liber/Gleerup. Lundgren, U. P. (1989), Att organisera omvärlden [Organising the world around us], Utbildningsförlaget, Stockholm. Sivesind, K. & Karseth, B. (2010), Conceptualising curriculum knowledge within and beyond the national context, European Journal of Education 45 (1),103- 120. Sundberg, D. & Wahlström, N. (2012), Standards-based curricula in a denationalized conception of education: The case of Sweden, European Educational Research Journal 11 (3), 342–356. Utbildningsdepartementet (The Ministry of Education) (2011). Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och fritidshemmet 2011 (Lgr 11). [Curriculum for the Compulsory School, Preschool Class and the Leisure-time Centre 2011; in Swedish]. Stockholm: National Agency for Education.
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