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How is the geography curriculum made? Exploring the concepts of curriculum coherence and curriculum control David Mitchell Institute of Education, London.

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Presentation on theme: "How is the geography curriculum made? Exploring the concepts of curriculum coherence and curriculum control David Mitchell Institute of Education, London."— Presentation transcript:

1 How is the geography curriculum made? Exploring the concepts of curriculum coherence and curriculum control David Mitchell Institute of Education, London

2 My research: How is the geography curriculum made? My key positions curriculum as enacted Focus on teacher Theory of a society – curriculum power relationship

3 The England National Curriculum is, in law, an expression of content, and of aims and values. It cannot do everything. To expect it so to do will most likely result in failure. Oates, 2011:134 Exploring the concepts of curriculum coherence and curriculum control for how the geography curriculum is made

4 Tim Oates (2011) curriculum coherence & curriculum control High Performing education system

5 Accountability Pedagogy Textbooks & materials National Frameworks Assessment & qualifications NATIONAL CURRICULUM ITE High Performing education system Governance Tim Oates (2011) curriculum coherence & curriculum control

6 A system is regarded as coherent when the national curriculum content, textbooks, teaching content, pedagogy, assessment and drivers and incentives all are aligned and reinforce one another. Oates, 2011:141

7 Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks (routes etc) Funding Accountability Governance Assessment & qualifications Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Curriculum content NC, Textbooks (& support materials) curriculum control factors (Oates, 2011) Allied social measures Institutional structures

8 Curriculum Coherence through curriculum control (Oates, 2011) Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks (routes etc) Funding Accountability Governance Assessment & qualifications Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Curriculum content NC, Textbooks (& support materials) Allied social measures Institutional structures

9 Curriculum Coherence through curriculum control (Oates, 2011) Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks (routes etc) Funding Accountability Governance Assessment & qualifications Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Curriculum content NC, Textbooks (& support materials) Allied social measures Institutional structures...need not be... top down control or exercised exclusively by the State. (Oates, 2011:126) Role for the GA Collaboration between teachers (model of the schools council projects) (Pring, 2013) A single body represented by teachers/ univs/ exam boards/ employers (& gov – but not with total control) (Pring, 2013)

10 Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks Funding Accountability Governance Assessment Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Textbooks (& other materials) curriculum control factors (Oates, 2011) Current situation? Curriculum

11 Assessment & qualifications curriculum entitlement (Geography) Some potential tensions not enough deep learning in the curriculum = teaching to the test bloated specification = over-assessment over-generic curriculum = unfair tests progression in content wrong = odd patterns of failure and success irrelevant content = loss of validity and confidence Source: Oates, 2011: Assessment for accountability confused with assessment for learning = corruption of teaching...Campbells law....When a measure becomes a target it ceases to become a good measure. Pring (2013) p. 124 TENSION

12 Over-generic centralised curriculum (means power over curriculum lies elsewhere) pupils must understand that there are patterns in the reactions between substances...This statement essentially describes all of chemistry. So what should teachers actually teach? What are the key concepts which children should know and apply? The concept of entitlement becomes seriously eroded, if not absent, from a National Curriculum formed of such generic statements. Oates, 2011:142 GCSE specifications in Geography must require learners to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: aspects of physical and human geography, and their associated processes, including relationships between people and environments. Ofqual (2012) GCSE Subject Criteria for Geography

13 Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks Funding Accountability Governance Assessment Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Textbooks (& other materials) Curriculum Teacher – making (sense of) the curriculum

14 Selection & gatekeeping Professional development Inspection National Frameworks Funding Accountability Governance Assessment Initial teacher education Pedagogy Curriculum Textbooks (& other materials) Curriculum Teacher – making (sense of) the curriculum

15 Significant other points (Oates 2011) 1.Subjects to drive the curriculum 2.Essential subject content – concept led, not context 3.Deep subject knowledge 4.Less frequent centralised change in curriculum (because contexts should no longer be specified) 5.Separates curriculum and pedagogy 6.role of teacher to make the curriculum interesting 7.Wary of trying to copy other countries systems

16 A national curriculum cannot specify and control all elements of the real curriculum – and will run into terrible difficulty if it attempts so to do...It is vital to distinguish the role of national curricula in specifying conceptual and factual content, and the role of teachers in developing motivating teaching and learning. Oates, 2011:133 Teachers role as curriculum makers (up to a point)

17 Finally...Some issues raised Role of university geography – how is the change in the structure and content of knowledge to be fed into the curriculum? How autonomous should teachers be in choosing content? What is the role of the child in curriculum choices? Is Oates over emphasising the power of the NC over the real curriculum? Are different value & belief positions (which create difference in real curricula) sufficiently recognised? How realistic is coherence in English education system?

18 We must not work alone...

19 References Mansell, W. (2007) Education by numbers. The damaging treadmill of school tests. Politicos. Oates, T. (2011): Could do better: using international comparisons to refinethe National Curriculum in England, Curriculum Journal, 22,2, Ofqual (2012) GCSE Subject Criteria for Geography online: last accessed Pring, R. (2013) The Life and Death of Secondary Education for all. Abingdon: Routledge Roberts, M. (1995) Interpretations of the geography national curriculum: a common curriculum for all?, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 27,2, pp


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