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Corrupting the Curriculum? David Lambert John Morgan.

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1 Corrupting the Curriculum? David Lambert John Morgan

2 Origins Whelan R (ed) 2007, The corruption of the curriculum, London: Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society (ISBN )

3 Preliminaries We are addressing the geography curriculum Both elements (geography, curriculum) are –human creations –change according to a range of competing priorities It is therefore difficult to imagine an uncorrupted curriculum

4 Preliminaries (2) Therefore, we need to keep under constant review the nature and purpose of school geography In the current climate, geography is schools is under severe pressure. We need to be clear that geography deserves its curriculum space

5 The Civitas case The problem? Over the past two decades the school curriculum has become estranged from the challenge of educating children (p 1) The curriculum? … impart a body of academic knowledge to their students.

6 Corrupted subjects Science is no longer about scientific knowledge (truth) but scientific literacy Foreign languages are no longer concerned with opening up other cultures and literatures, but limited to functional skills History is no longer concerned with narrative and the big sweep of chronology, but with inauthentic comprehension exercises based on sources a-f. Geography is no longer about maps but indoctrinating young people with environmentalism in the name of global citizenship.

7 Geography Geography has been so corrupted that it no longer provides the : essential intellectual and social tools that will enable (young people) to assume political responsibility as adults (p56).

8 The geography curriculum should, according to Civitas, offer pupils not only knowledge about the world but a theoretical and conceptual framework through which they can situate ideas. This framework is sorely lacking in many geography textbooks today (p55)

9 Instead, The geography curriculum has been corrupted by global ethics which –Emphasise personal skills such as empathy –Emphasise values over knowledge –Promote personal responsibility over critical analysis of economic, social, environmental and political processes.

10 Who is doing the corrupting? It is systemic: Government (ECM; pupil voice) QCA (KS3 Aims) Subject Associations (new agenda)

11 And the Geographical Association? To what extent is it corrupting for the APG to focus on: –Young peoples geography –Sustainable development –Global citizenship

12 Ways to respond Reject the argument –as old fashioned and out of step –elitist Accept the argument –and promote geography as a pure academic pursuit for a privileged minority Look for aspects of the argument that have some purchase –Compare, for example, moral carelessness

13 Teaching geography carelessly As if education were an answer culture (not a culture of argument) As if education were an answer culture (not a culture of argument) As if there were no overarching disciplinary architecture As if there were no overarching disciplinary architecture – There are no right or wrong answers –its your opinion that matters As if the pedagogic adventure were itself a worthwhile education outcome As if the pedagogic adventure were itself a worthwhile education outcome

14 Student Experiences Geography: the subject Teacher Choices Underpinned by Key Concepts Thinking Geographically Learning Activity How does this take the learner beyond what they already know? Curriculum Making

15 Corruption or balance? Things outside our control: –Whole curriculum structures (eg option blocks) –Impact of targets, league tables and inspections –Policy shifts (eg curriculum) –Orthodoxies and ideology (skills and competences)

16 Corruption or balance? Things to keep in balance: –The particular aims we want the geography curriculum to serve educational vocational –The learning we wish to emphasise Skills, knowledge and understanding Progression and continuity

17 Key questions What theoretical and conceptual frameworks does geography, or learning geography, impart? How does geography help us think about, or make sense of the world? What intellectual tools does geography provide?

18 Key questions What theoretical and conceptual frameworks does geography, or learning geography, impart? How does geography help us think about, or make sense of the world? What intellectual tools does geography provide? And in what ways are these educational?

19 Back to Civitas… Frank Furedi and the diminished self Three destructive influences: loss of faith in knowledge enthronement of philistinism contemporary views of childhood

20 Matters arising for school geography Values education in geography The diminished self in geographical study Politics and the geography curriculum

21 Values education in geography Dates from 1970s Responds to arguments about school knowledge Values are personal and individualised rather than products of material world Danger of therapeutic education

22 The diminished self in geographical study demoralization Regards human activity as a source of problems Low expectations Precautionary principle

23 Politics and the geography curriculum 1986 Social Affairs Unit The wayward curriculum Link with Institute of Ideas – George Monbiots charge of entryism Geography education and modernity


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