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
David Lambert – UCL Institute of Education, UK
Editorial article: Teaching as a research-engaged profession: Uncovering a blind spot and revealing new possibilities, David Lambert (UCL Institute of Education, UK)
Curriculum principles, didactic practice and social issues: Thinking through teachers’ knowledge practices in collaborative work, Gabriel Bladh, Martin Stolare and Martin Kristiansson (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Identifying powerful geographical knowledge in integrated curricula in Dutch schools, Matthijs Bouwmans and Tine Béneker (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Rethinking teaching and teachers: Bringing content back into conversation, Zongyi Deng (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Powerful knowledge, transformations and the need for empirical studies across school subjects, Niklas Gericke (Karlstad University, Sweden), Brian Hudson (Karlstad University, Sweden & University of Sussex, UK), Christina Olin-Scheller (Karlstad University, Sweden) and Martin Stolare (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Mathematics education in the spotlight: Its purpose and some implications, Jennie Golding (UCL Institute of Education, UK)
Powerful knowledge and the textbook, Nicky Platt (UCL Institute of Education, UK)