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Curriculum Theory, Curriculum Policy and the Problem of Ill-Disciplined Thinking


Journal of Education Policy Volume 26, Number 2, ISSN 0268-0939


This paper examines the implications of policy fracture and arms length governance within the decision-making processes currently shaping curriculum design within the English education system. In particular, it argues that an unresolved "ideological fracture" at the government level has been passed down to school leaders whose response to the dilemma is distorted by the target-driven agenda of arms length agencies. Drawing upon the findings of a large-scale online survey of history teaching in English secondary schools, this paper illustrates the problems that occur when policy-making is divorced from curriculum theory, and in particular from any consideration of the nature of knowledge. Drawing on the social realist theory of knowledge, we argue that the rapid spread of alternative curricular arrangements, implemented in the absence of an understanding of curriculum theory, undermines the value of disciplined thinking to the detriment of many young people, particularly those in areas of social and economic deprivation. (Contains 7 notes, 1 table, and 3 figures.)


Harris, R. & Burn, K. (2011). Curriculum Theory, Curriculum Policy and the Problem of Ill-Disciplined Thinking. Journal of Education Policy, 26(2), 245-261. Retrieved December 6, 2019 from .

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