28 SES 05, Education, Otherness and the Future
Goodson (1997) writes of the curriculum as a social construction grounded in the past, activated in the present and creative of the future. This latter, futures thinking has in particular been placed centre stage with calls from the scientific and educational community for educational processes to address the challenge of global development under environmental limits (Millbrath, 1996; Rockström et al., 2009). Indeed, narratives in education are being charged with altering the business-as-usual socio-productive processes and contemporary Western lifestyle practices into practices of socialisation for radically different futures (e.g. Wals and Corcoran, 2012). Amongst other things, this includes the development of skills for reaching difficult decisions amidst conditions of uncertainty, complexity, significant bio-physical constraints and conflicting human interests, as well as preparedness to question the post-political framing of technical problems of contemporary development (Dietz et al., 2003; Swyngedouw, 2010). Arguably, more than ever before we are asked to think about the interrelationship between the social and natural world and how this will affect future lives.
Constructions of the future are the focus of this paper. More specifically, the paper is concerned with examining constructions of the future in the Croatian primary school curriculum at three points in time: the 1970s when Croatia was still part of Yugoslavia, the 1990s when the country experienced transition to democracy-market economy and the 2000s, a period of free-market stabilisation. It seeks to answer the following research questions:
1. How is the future constructed in the primary school curriculum in Croatia at three points in time: 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, under different political and economic contexts (socialism, liberal democracy, capitalism)?
2. Are environmental limits addressed in these constructions and if so how?
The article draws on works in sociology of utopia and dystopia, through classical sociological texts (e.g. Engels 1884, Durkheim 1893) and more contemporary works (e.g. Levitas 2010) in order to interpret constructions of the future as found in the curriculum. In terms question of epistemology, social constructionism is invoked (e.g. Marshall 1994) in order to discuss differences in knowledge construction between the more and the less speculative, i.e. that which “is”, which has already been experienced, and what is expected or ought to be, as well as how does “objective” knowledge of changes in the natural world feed into social constructions of the future, i.e. the notion that society is actively and creatively produced by human beings. Furthermore, the article includes contemporary literature on educational aims oriented towards sustainability, especially those focused on ‘anticipatory competence’ development (Wiek et al., 2011; Scott and Gough, 2004; Bonnett, 2002).
The overall aim of the paper is to raise theoretical and empirical points relating to knowledge production and the curriculum, with particular reference to constructions of the future over time and the place of environmental limits in these constructions, using the Croatian primary school curriculum over a 30 year time span as case study material.
Bonnett, M. 2002. Education for sustainability as a frame of mind. Environmental Education Research 8 (1): 9-20. Dietz, T.; Ostrom, E. i Stern, P. C. 2003. The Struggle to Govern the Commons, Science 302: 1907-1912. Englels, F. 1884. The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State. London: Penguin (2010). Fairclough, N. 1995. Critical discourse analysis. The critical study of language. New York: Longman. Goodson, I. 1997. The Changing Curriculum. Studies in Social Construction. New York: Peter Lang. Levitas, R. 2010. The Concept of Utopia. New York: Peter Lang. Milbrath, L. W. 1996. Learning to Think Environmentally: While there is Still Time, Albany: State University of NY Press. Nokkala, T. 2008. Finland is a Small Country. Narrative Construction of the Internationalisation of Higher Education. In: B. Jessop, N. Fairclough, R. Wodak (eds.), Education and the Knowledge-based Economy in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense. 171-190. Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, A., Chapin, F. S., III, Lambin, E. F., . . . Foley, J. A. (2009b). Planetary boundaries: Exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32 Rogers, R. (ed.)2004. Critical Discourse Analysis in Education. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. Scott, W. and Gough, S. 2004. Key Issues in Sustainable Development and Learning: A Critical Review. London: Routledge Falmer. Swyngedouw, E. 2010. Apocalypse Forever?: Post-political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change. Theory, Culture & Society 27(2-3): 213–232. Wals, A. E. J. & Corcoran, P. B. (eds.) 2012. Learning for sustainability in times of accelerating change. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers. Wiek, A.; Withycombe, L. and Redman, C. L. 2011. Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science 6 (2): 203-218
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