The Re-historicisation and increased contextualisation of curriculum and its associated pedagogies

Robyn Torok

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Curriculum has traditionally been an ahistorical and technical field. The consequence has been to view curriculum and its associated pedagogical practices as neutral entities, devoid of meaning -in essence arising ex nihilo. However, this na ve assumption has fatefully resulted in revisiting the same swamps over and over again. Standardised curriculum and pedagogy function invisibly to reproduce class and inequality and to institutionalise cultural norms. Despite lingering attempts to maintain this technocratic approach that ignores subcutaneous meanings, a strong movement has emerged to reconceptualise curriculum in terms of its historical and sociopolitical context. While it is conceded that this is a step into a larger quagmire, it is a necessary one if true progress is to be made. Nevertheless, this large quagmire provides the possibility of escape, unlike the fatal determinism of forever returning to the swamps. Expectedly, this move to reconceptualise curriculum has its critics. Their arguments are also addressed, in particular the perceived tendency to separate theory and practice. Although curriculum and curriculum practices can be contextualised in many ways, this paper focuses primarily on key political concepts and concealed constructs such as hegemony, reproduction and resistance, resilience of the institution, the non-neutral nature of knowledge, the inclusion/exclusion principle, slogan systems and the hidden curriculum. Only by understanding the complex historical and political nature of curriculum can teaching professionals understand the hidden meaning of their practices. This is the first step for professionals to take in order to achieve Giroux's (1979, 1985, 1992) vision of teachers as transformative professionals (particularly through collaborative frameworks like the IDEAS project) in a climate of standardised curriculum and testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-81
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Pedagogies and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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