Special feature: Knowledge and Subject-Specialist Teaching

London Review of Education special feature.

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Knowledge and Subject-Specialist Teaching

London Review of Education special feature


There has been a surge in interest in the knowledge contents of the school curriculum. In England, the Department for Education has been reforming the National Curriculum to restore ‘rigour’ to public examinations taken at age 16 and 18, while the publication of What Should Schools Teach? (Sehgal Cuthbert and Standish, 2021) and Knowledge, Curriculum and Equity (Morgan et al., 2018) illustrate aspects of this interest in arresting ‘the corrosive impact of naïve post-modernist thought on curriculum theory’ (Oates, 2018, in Guile et al, chapter 13). A situation where the quality of what is taught can be valued less than pedagogic techniques oriented around generic learning outcomes could be characterized as the ‘curriculum in crisis’. Such a crisis has been discussed by Michael Young (2013), who introduced the concept of ‘powerful knowledge’ and the ‘Future 3’ curriculum, and Gert Biesta (2017), who has described the ‘learnification’ of education and the need to rediscover teaching. Meanwhile, Brian Hudson (2016) has usefully sought to engage curriculum thinking with European perspectives arising from Bildung and Didaktik.

The three recurring keywords in the article titles for this feature are 'teaching', 'knowledge' and 'curriculum'. These words capture a good deal of what schools are for. They are, in a sense, defining categories, for whatever the multiplicity of roles and functions that are thrust onto schools, what remains at the core is knowledge – and teachers who interpret and enact the official curriculum. This articles problematize current understandings of knowledge in relation to teaching, offer a range of different perspectives on what is often unproductively reduced to a knowledge-vs-skills debate, and explore the implications for equality and equity of the above (and in particular the notion of ‘curriculum in crisis’), with reference mainly but not exclusively to state-funded education systems.


Publication date: 1 November 2018. Volume 16, Issue 3.


Guest Editor

David Lambert, UCL Institute of Education, UK


Article list

Editorial article: Teaching as a research-engaged profession: Uncovering a blind spot and revealing new possibilities

Author: David Lambert
Published: 1 November 2018


Curriculum principles, didactic practice and social issues: Thinking through teachers’ knowledge practices in collaborative work

Authors: Gabriel Bladh, Martin Stolare and Martin Kristiansson
Published: 1 November 2018


Identifying powerful geographical knowledge in integrated curricula in Dutch schools

Authors: Matthijs Bouwmans and Tine Béneker
Published: 1 November 2018


Rethinking teaching and teachers: Bringing content back into conversation

Author: Zongyi Deng
Published: 1 November 2018


Powerful knowledge, transformations and the need for empirical studies across school subjects

Authors: Niklas Gericke, Brian Hudson, Christina Olin-Scheller and Martin Stolare
Published: 1 November 2018


Mathematics education in the spotlight: Its purpose and some implications

Author: Jennie Golding
Published: 1 November 2018


Powerful knowledge and the textbook

Author: Nicky Platt
Published: 1 November 2018


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