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Whose knowledge counts

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Robert Hattam

on 19 July 2013

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Transcript of Whose knowledge counts

Whose and what knowledge
counts in forming the curriculum?

Education is . . . a living struggle, a replica on a small scale of the conflicting purposes and tendencies which rage in society at large. Karl Mannheim, 1936

It is timely and relevant, then, that we revisit the question of what should count
as knowledge and, by extension, whose knowledge counts. Our aim here is to move research and educational policy-research-practice dialogues back to foundational questions about what counts as knowledge and whose knowledge counts in an historical context where much of the policy debate has been preoccupied with issues of reform of institutional structure and instructional method. (Kelly, Luke & Green , 2008, p. viii)

6 Propositions/theses

1. Teachers are knowledge workers.

2. ‘Official knowledge’ is produced, recontextualised, and reproduced.

3. Contemporary school curriculum is constructed in global knowledge networks that are shifting emphasis from content to process

4. Schools are key sites for a politics of knowledge.

5. There is dissonance between official and lifeworld knowledge that presents a serious pedagogical challenge to teachers.

6. Schools struggle with competing logics of learning, and sorting and selecting.


Schooling involves the transmission of knowledge from one generation to another. Teachers are knowledge workers

‘Official knowledge’ (curriculum) is produced, recontextualised, and reproduced in specific institutions.

Contemporary school curriculum is constructed in global knowledge
networks that are shifting emphasis from content to process and hence reducing curriculum knowledge.

Schools are key sites for a politics of knowledge. As well, the curriculum
is the main specification for the control of teachers’ work.

There is dissonance between official and lifeworld knowledges that presents
a serious pedagogical challenge to teachers, especially those working in so-called ‘disadvantaged schools’.

Schools struggle with competing logics of learning, versus sorting and selecting.
Teachers committed to learning have to work with/against a curriculum hierarchy, credentialing, and basic skills testing.

Thesis 6.
Thesis 5.
Thesis 4.
Thesis 3.
Thesis 2.
Thesis 1.
Physical Educ
Social Studies
Tech studies
Maths 1
Maths 2
New Poverty
Text books
Refereed Journals
Non-fiction academic texts
popular culture texts
the web

Literacy War
Science War
Culture War
History War
There is a compelling case that our times are defined by a ‘profound disjuncture in science and society relations’ (p. 233). This disjuncture in Australia can be characterised by:
• emergence of a vocal anti-science movement in the public culture evident by ‘ignorant and over-emotional attitude of some publics’ (p. 239);
• a crisis of public confidence in science (e.g. climate change debates, genetically modified food) that is aggravated by ‘unnecessary arrogance and over-assuredness of some scientists’ (p.239);
• a ‘flight from science’ by students in final years of secondary school and at university: year 12 enrolments in physics, chemistry and biology fell by 31%, 23% and 32% respectively between 1992 and 2009;
• school science being too heavily skewed towards the abstract conceptual canon of science that too often ignores the realities of students’ own lives and interests;
• poor national performance in science learning by Australian primary and secondary students (e.g. TIMSS and PISA testing) in comparison to other OECD and even developing countries;
• a relatively low percentage of university qualified citizens compared to other OECD countries;
• increased urbanisation coupled with densification of cities and the loss of natural preserves has led to a disconnect between people and the natural world, referred to as nature deficit disorder (Louv 2005); and
• low levels of public understanding of science in ‘western’ countries, that seem immune to educational interventions (Raza et al, 2009).

Luke and Freebody’s Four Resource Model

The resources are as follows:

1. Break the code of texts

Recognizing and using features such as alphabet, sounds, spelling, conventions and patterns of the text.

2. Participate in the meanings of text

Understanding and composing meaningful written, visual and spoken texts from within particular cultures, institutions, families, communities, nation-states etc. Drawing on existing schemas.

3. Use texts functionally

Knowing about and acting on the different cultural and social functions that various texts perform both inside and outside of school. Knowing that these function shapes the ways texts are constructed, their tone, their degree of formality and their sequence of components. Using texts for purpose.

4. Critically analyze and transform texts

Understanding and acting on the knowledge that texts are not neutral. Texts represent particular views, silence others, influence people’s ideas. Text designs & discourses can be critiqued and redesigned in novel and hybrid ways.

‘Why is it, in spite of the fact that teaching by pouring in, learning by passive absorption, are universally condemned, that they are still entrenched in practice?’ (Dewey, 1966/1916)
That crisis produces a stalemate in countless classrooms. Uncooperative students
and unyielding authorities have fought each other to a stand-off, what we call a student 'performance strike'. … Instead they get better and better at aggression and sabotage, … Its hard to teach with this level of resistance. Disorder demoralizes the teacher as well as the other students. This alienation cannot be solved by more passive pedagogy or by tougher authority. It requires a counter-alienation pedagogy, one creative, critical, and on the side of student subjectivity. (p. 125)

Curriculum Hierarchy
Controlling teachers work is about controlling the curriculum.
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