Greater Autonomy Over The Content Of The Curriculum

The being of some signifier of relationship between course of study policy and instructor professionalism would look to be an established premise. This is apparent in claims that course of study reform is frequently regarded as a menace to teacher professionalism ( Al-Hinei 2003 ; Apple 2009 ; Locke et Al. 2005 ) . Most notably, it is frequently claimed that the degree of prescription in the English National Curriculum, along with the associated demand to run into the prescribed results, reflects a decrease of instructor liberty in favor of answerability ( Walsh 2006 ) . It would look, at this degree so, possible to reason that a decrease in cardinal prescription equates to an addition in teacher liberty which in bend equates to an sweetening of instructor professionalism. To an extent this would look to be an purpose of recent course of study reform in Scotland in the signifier of the Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE ) . The first page of the first ‘Building the Curriculum ‘ papers claims that ‘teachers will hold greater range and infinite for professional determinations about what and how they should learn ‘ ( Scots Executive 2006:1 ) .

However, such a straightforward relationship between course of study policy and instructor professionalism would, pulling on Evans ( 2008 ) , be an over-simplification. Evans suggests that professionalism can non be understood entirely, through analyzing instructors ‘ ‘remit and duties ‘ ( p.23 ) , and instead we must see the ways in which teachers themselves understand their professional duties. To an extent this would look to be recognised in Scotland ‘s course of study reform, in for illustration claims that the reform requires a ‘culture alteration ‘ ( Scots Government 2009a:5 ) and the accent on the demand for professional development ( Scots Executive 2006:2 ) . This suggests acknowledgment that a alteration of instructors ‘ remit and duties entirely may non hold a important impact upon professionalism. In this sense, the CfE may possibly be regarded as stand foring, but besides necessitating, a alteration in our apprehension of teacher professionalism.

In visible radiation of this, it becomes pertinent to see exactly the nature of this implied alteration in apprehension of teacher professionalism. This essay will research peculiarly the deductions of greater instructor liberty in choosing the content of the course of study. This entails sing: what is meant by teacher professionalism, issues that arise in relation to choosing course of study content, and the impact of these issues on our construct of instructor professionalism.


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In order to research the impact of the CfE upon teacher professionalism it is necessary to hold an apprehension as to what precisely ‘professionalism ‘ agencies. This poses some trouble as the term would look to miss a clear definition, and seems to be understood rather otherwise by different people ( Al-Hinei 2003:41 ; Evans 2008 ) .

In a general sense nevertheless, it can possibly be regarded as a description of the nature of the function and demands of a member of a profession ( Goodson 2003:126 ; Evans 2008:25 ) . This of class begs the inquiry as to what a ‘profession ‘ is. Harmonizing to Carr ( 2000:22 ) the term ‘profession ‘ may be regarded as bespeaking a distinguishable ‘class or class of business ‘ consisting of occupations such as ‘doctor ‘ or ‘lawyer ‘ , and sometimes ‘teacher ‘ .

It is in sing those characteristics that distinguish a ‘profession ‘ from other businesss that the cardinal issues associated with ‘professionalism ‘ come to the bow. Some regard the construct of ‘profession ‘ to be a socially constructed agencies of continuing power with a certain group of people by confering a particular position upon certain businesss ( described in Locke et Al. 2005:558 ) . Carr ( 2006:173 ) suggests it refers to those businesss that are indispensable in continuing civil society ( wellness, justness and instruction ) . Others suggest that there are certain specifying features which mark out an business as carry throughing the standard for ‘profession ‘ ( Locke et al 2005:558 ; Christie 2003:845 ) .

However, despite this diverseness it would look possible to place certain recurrent subjects in relation to those businesss classed as professions: they have some distinguishable cognition base or expertness ; they provide some signifier of service to society ; and, as alluded to in the debut, members of a profession have autonomy to do professional opinions ( Carr 2000 ; Christie 2003 ; Goodson 2003 ; Locke et Al. 2005 ) .

Professionalism, so, may possibly be regarded as describing: the demands of a member of a profession in footings of their cognition and expertness ; their range for independent determination devising ; and a definition of their function in its service to wider society. If we consider teacher professionalism straight, Menter et Al. ( 2010:17 ) , place ‘four theoretical accounts ‘ of professionalism ( ‘effective ‘ , ‘reflective ‘ , ‘enquiring ‘ and ‘transformative ‘ ) , each of which conceives of the professional cognition base and range for teacher determination doing otherwise. The ‘transformative ‘ theoretical account besides defines the societal function of learning otherwise – as ‘contributing to societal alteration ‘ , instead than conveying societal norms ( Menter et al. 2010:24 ) .

Therefore, the relationship between course of study policy and professionalism would look to lie in the manner in which the course of study defines a instructors ‘ function in footings of the cognition that is required and the degree of liberty for professional determination devising afforded by the course of study. Whilst Evans ( 2008:27 ) argues that we can non understand the true nature of instructor professionalism by mention to the policy that defines it, pulling on Locke et Al ( 2005 ) , it would surely look just to propose that the manner in which a instructors ‘ function is perceived officially does hold affect instructors ‘ positions as to the nature of their functions and duties.

As has been mentioned antecedently in relation to the English National Curriculum, the issue of instructors ‘ liberty and range for doing professional opinions would look to be a peculiarly combative issue. Menter et Al ( 2010:22 ) suggest that a normative course of study, in which there is less range for professional opinion, would look to associate readily to a theoretical account of professionalism which emphasises ‘technical achievement ‘ . It would look that cut downing instructors ‘ liberty narrows the cognition and expertness that is expected of a instructor. Goodson ( 2003 ) suggests that a focal point on the proficient facets of learning can take to a position that instructors ‘ expertness lies strictly in the accomplishments of twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours planning and behaviour direction. Carr ( 2000:15 ) refers to this as ‘restricted professionalism ‘ .

Through analyzing the grounds for the being of a course of study which possibly restricts teacher professionalism in this manner we come to see the ‘tension ‘ that Locke et Al ( 2005:564 ) point to as bing between instructor liberty and answerability. Further, through understanding the possibly alone answerability faced by the instruction profession ( Carr 2003 ) , we can get down to understand the issues involved in course of study content choice.

Education, or instead schooling, is basically concerned with ‘the sort of society we want to be ‘ ( White 2004a:2 ) and as such in concerned non merely with single development but besides the development of society. This is apparent in the claim that the ‘Curriculum for Excellence can play a important function ‘ in accomplishing the Scots Governments purpose ‘to make Scotland smarter, safer and stronger, wealthier and fairer, greener and healthier ‘ ( Scots Government 2008:3 ) . It is from this impression of schooling as helping, and potentially formative, society as a whole that it is suggested that schools and instructors are accountable in ways that other professions are non ( Carr 2000:44 ) . Further, instructors are besides more accountable to parents and must accept the legitimacy of the positions of ‘non-professionals ‘ in a manner that attorneies or physicians do non ( Carr 2003:64 ) . As such, it is argued that there are some determinations in instruction that should non be made by the instructor as they are ‘essentially political ‘ ( White 2004b:20 ) . In trying to guarantee therefore that instructors are run intoing the wants of both the province in footings of its desire for society – such as economic growing – instructors ‘ infinite for professional opinion can go squeezed.

This leads us to see more closely the nature of course of study policy itself, and the function it plays in interceding between the desires of the province and instructor professional liberty.

Course of study

This requires an understanding as to what is meant by “ course of study ” itself. As with ‘professionalism ‘ , it would look to be a term which is notoriously difficult to specify, with a battalion of potentially conflicting definitions ( Dillon 2009 ) . By and large it can be suggested that ‘curriculum ‘ does non mention to a list, or patterned advance, of points to be taught. The course of study addresses non merely what is taught, but why and how instruction and larning takes topographic point. As such, curricula reflect and advance beliefs about the purposes and nature of instruction ( Flinders & A ; Thornton 2009:8 ) . Different course of study reflect different epistemic and pedagogical beliefs – beliefs about the nature of cognition and nature of acquisition and learning – in, for illustration, their administration of ‘knowledge ‘ ( Carr 1988 ) . For illustration those that emphasise the separation of cognition into topics, and those that favour integrating of capable countries. However it should possibly be noted that Carr ( 1988 ) argues that the epistemic and pedagogical bases of much course of study policy is non wholly coherent. It should besides be noted that the current treatment is centred on the construct of ‘explicit ‘ course of study ( Moore 2004:61 ) – an expressed statement of intended acquisition such as the CfE. However in sing a broader definition, course of study is besides used to mention to those experiences which lead to larning approximately, for illustration, societal norms which are non explicitly planned for. This is termed the ‘implicit ‘ ( Moore 2004:61 ) or ‘hidden ‘ ( Anyon 2006 ) course of study.

However, notwithstanding the scope of attacks to understanding and making course of study, course of study design needfully entails a choice of what is to be taught. Different course of study theoretical accounts may differ in both when and by whom this procedure of choice takes topographic point. As mentioned earlier, within a normative, centralised, curriculum much of the choice is being made at a national degree by policy shapers.

If we consider the CfF itself in footings of those who are doing the determinations, it is rather clear that the pick as to what to learn is non being topographic point entirely in the custodies of the instructors. Priestley ( 2010:23 ) suggests that it reflects a tendency in course of study development in general, in which there is an effort to pull on both ‘top-down and bottom-up attacks to curriculum be aftering ‘ .

A procedure of choice has already occurred at the national degree. The purposes of the course of study have been set out in the signifier of the ‘four capacities ‘ – statements as to the type of individual the course of study seeks to develop ( Learning and Teaching Scotland 2010 ) . As mentioned earlier, the course of study besides aims to run into the Scots Governments desire to make a ‘wealthier ‘ and ‘healthier ‘ Scotland ( Scots Government 2008:3 ) .

Therefore instructors are doing their determinations within a ‘framework of national outlooks ‘ ( Scots Executive 2006:1 ) . Decisions, possibly ideological, have been made as to the ‘skills ‘ that are deemed of import have been defined ( ‘skills for acquisition, accomplishments for life and accomplishments for work ‘ ( Scots Government 2009b ) ) . The chief countries of acquisition, possibly reflecting epistemic beliefs, have besides been decided in the signifier of the course of study countries ( such as Mathematicss ) . At a more elaborate degree, the ‘experiences and results… describe the outlooks for larning and patterned advance for each of the eight course of study countries ‘ ( Learning and Teaching Scotland 2010 ) .

Even within this ‘clear instructors do non hold exclusive duty for course of study content choice. In the pledge, ‘all kids and immature people should see personalisation and pick… ‘ ( Scots Government 2008:17 ) , there is an outlook that students will, to a certain extent, besides be doing determinations about course of study content. Further, there is a strong accent upon collegiality, with instructors working together on course of study development ( Scots Government 2009a ) . This essay does non hold the range to see the reviews of the curricular determinations made at a national degree ( e.g. Royal Society of Edinburgh 2008 ) . Whilst recognizing that these unfavorable judgments may good hold of import deductions for the function of the instructor, this essay will see more by and large the deductions for teacher professionalism of liberty to choose content within a wide model.

Through sing course of study content choice, two cardinal issues related to teacher professionalism will be raised. The first considers the consequence of sing content choice as a pedagogical accomplishment or competency as Hansen ( 1998 ) appears to make. The 2nd explores the deductions of sing a course of study as a ‘selection of civilization ‘ ( Giroux 1980:228 ) .

Contented choice as pedagogical accomplishment

As it would look that the major ‘political ‘ determinations have been made in the course of study in footings of its purposes and general administration of cognition, it is possible to see the instructors function as that of ‘deciding what specific purposes and what student experiences best suit the peculiar kids ‘ ( White 2004b:20 ) . In this sense the instructor is pulling on expertness as to how best move the kid onto the following phase of development, in this instance as defined by the CfE ‘s experiences and results.

This demand to make up one’s mind upon the particular aims, and choosing the content to enable the student to accomplish those purposes would surely look to indicate to a construct of a more enhanced professionalism than a more normative course of study. The nature of expected teacher professional cognition and expertness would surely look to be regarded as more than organizational and twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours routine. Official certification seems to propose that instructors must, for illustration ‘reflect on their pattern ‘ ( Scots Government 2009a:2 ) and have a scope of expert cognition in the signifier of ‘content cognition… general pedagogical cognition… .knowledge about how scholars learn ‘ ( Scots Government 2009a:4 ) . This would look to indicate to theoretical accounts such as the ‘reflective instructor ‘ ( Moore 2004:4 ) . Such a theoretical account respects learning to affect more than practical cognition and proficient accomplishment, instead it requires instructors to reflect on their pattern possibly pulling on their theoretical apprehension with a position to bettering and developing their instruction ( Moore 2004 ) .

Menter et Al ( 2010:23 ) suggest that the demand for instructors to be involved in course of study development makes the construct of ‘the asking instructor ‘ a really relevant theoretical account. This theoretical account regards instructors ‘ professional expertness in lying non merely in the application of theoretical cognition, but besides in its coevals through action research, once more with the purpose to better their pattern ( Menter et al 2010:23 ) .

These theoretical accounts would surely look to widen the construct of instructor professionalism beyond that of the sensed technicism of the ‘competent ‘ instructor. As such they may supply suited theoretical accounts for instructors who are involved in the choice of course of study content, puting an accent on instructors ‘ pedagogical expertness.

However, if we turn to the 2nd construct, an apprehension of course of study content as a ‘selection of civilization ‘ ( Giroux 1980:228 ) , understanding teacher professionalism strictly in footings of pedagogical expertness may get down to look inadequate.

Curriculum content as a choice of civilization

In order to see the deductions of sing course of study as a choice of civilization it is necessary to find precisely what this means.

Culture, in its broadest sense, may be regarded ‘as a whole manner of life ‘ , embracing all facets of society including the cognition, accomplishments and activities, such as athletics and ‘recreation ‘ , of that society ( Entwistle 1977:111 ) . As such, whatever is included in the course of study is a choice from the huge array of cognition, accomplishments, attitudes and activities which make up ‘culture ‘ . We must see so on what footing we choose what to include. If we regard instruction as being, in some manner, involved with ‘betterment ‘ , the facets of civilization we choose to include in a course of study must be those which we regard as being contributing to the ‘improvement of the person or group ‘ ( Entwistle 1977:111 ) .

As such, cultural choice clearly implies a procedure of rating, separating between those things which we regard as ‘desirable or unwanted ‘ facets of civilization ( Entwistle 1977:110 ) . As White ( 2004a:3 ) argues that choice of content can merely sanely be carried out in relation to the purposes of the course of study, it would look just to propose that concerns about the choice of civilization could originate in relation to the overall purposes of the course of study and in relation to the standards by which facets of civilization are deemed worthy of inclusion.

Concerns that rise in relation to the purposes of the course of study are possibly best exemplified by the unfavorable judgments of a course of study whose purpose is, for illustration to increase employability accomplishments. Those who regard cognition acquisition as holding value in its ain right would see such an instrumental attack to content choice as an poverty of instruction, restricting entree to many signifiers of civilization which may non hold direct instrumental value ( pulling on Carr et Al. 2006:17 ) . In this manner so, we can see that the choice of content is in some manner impacted upon by our beliefs about the intent of instruction.

However, as has been discussed it the purposes of the CfE have been decided at a national degree, and as such possibly in world instructors have small function to play in choosing ‘desirable ‘ civilization. To a certain extent this may be true, and points once more to the ‘tension ‘ between answerability to the province, and instructors ‘ beliefs and professional opinions as to what is best ( Locke et al 2005 ) .

Further, it would surely look just to propose that within the model, instructors do hold to do determinations as to what to learn in order to accomplish the ‘experiences and results ‘ . In this manner they must do opinions as to what is worthwhile, what they regard as of import or valuable cognition or accomplishments, or suited literature. It is possibly in relation to the rating as to the comparative worth of facets of civilization that the most complex issues originate.

It is in sing the relationship between cognition and power that cultural choice becomes debatable. This becomes apparent when we draw on Bourdieu ‘s ( 1986:106 ) construct of ‘cultural capital ‘ . Bourdieu ( 1986:106 ) suggests that different signifiers of ‘culture ‘ are invested with value which can be drawn on for pecuniary addition, or an addition in societal position. If we consider this in footings of ‘knowledge ‘ as a signifier of civilization, so acquisition of certain signifiers of cognition by an person can be utilised in bring forthing income and increasing societal position. For illustration, geting specific biological and medical cognition can enable one to derive both the income and position conferred upon a physician. However, it is non merely the acquisition of the cognition per Se. which is valuable, but instead gaining institutional acknowledgment – in the signifier of an academic making – of possessing a peculiar signifier of civilization ( Bourdieu 1986:110 ) . In this sense, certain signifiers of cognition, certain signifiers of civilization, have greater value by virtuousness of being ‘institutionalised ‘ in the signifier of a making ( Bourdieu 1986:109 ) .

This would propose hence, that schools are involved in both the transportation of signifiers of civilization which enable an person to derive economic capital or societal position, but besides in some manner specify what signifiers of civilization are of value. Such an averment is supported by Giroux ‘s ( 1980:228 ) statement that the civilization that is selected to organize the course of study becomes ‘legitimised ‘ by the really fact of its inclusion in the course of study. Further as Moore ( 2004:61 ) points out, in choosing what to include, there is besides a determination as to what to except from the course of study. Moore ( 2004 ) suggests that through such a procedure the comparative value of different signifiers of civilization are communicated to students, with those things that are excluded regarded as unwanted. Some suggest that the footing on which such choice is carried out is based on ‘middle category ‘ values as to what should be regarded as worthwhile ( Reay 2006 ) .

An interesting illustration of such a claim is provided in Moore ‘s review of portraitures in movie of instructors who are regarded as ‘saviours and non-conformists ‘ ( Moore 2004:58 ) , such as ‘Ms Johnson ‘ in the movie Dangerous Minds. He argues that whilst the attack they take to instruction may be extraordinary, the content of that instruction is non. Moore ( 2004:58 ) contends that the cultural choice made by these instructors represents in-between category values and as such ‘may be read as lending to and corroborating societal and cultural prejudices ‘ ( p.58 )

It is in this sense that Young ( 2006:734 ) argues that ‘social involvements are ever involved in course of study design ‘ : those with the power to choose what is included in the course of study have, to an extent, the power to legalize certain signifiers of cognition and certain patterns. It is suggested that through this procedure of advancing and legalizing in-between category values schools are implicated in intrenching inequalities of societal category ( Reay 2006 ) .

Such a claim requires closer consideration if we are to understand the possible connexion between cultural choice and societal justness. One manner in which it is suggested that this is the instance is that persons from a in-between category background have greater entree and exposure to the signifiers of cognition that are regarded as valuable by schools ( Reay 2006 ) . In this manner, Reay ( 2006 ) suggests, kids from in-between category backgrounds are at an advantage, able to pull on the cultural capital they already possess in order to execute good at schools, deriving institutionalized acknowledgment through academic makings, and therefore addition position in society.

This would look to foreground a tenseness for those involved in choosing the content of a course of study. On the one manus, it is suggested that if schools do non supply the ‘high position cultural capital that academic and economic success requires ‘ so kids from working category backgrounds are potentially deprived of the ability to raise their societal position ( Anyon 2006:44 ) . However in making so, they are possibly complicit in reproducing prejudice as to what is regarded as legitimate and valuable cognition.

Further, Young ( 2006 ) suggests that it is non sensible to see cultural choice as strictly a affair of enforcing the values of an elitist group, and that there is a legitimacy in sing some accomplishments, facets of cognition, and activities as more valuable than others.

However, precisely how a instructor should make up one’s mind what is worthwhile and what is non is non wholly clear. Possibly it can be based upon the ‘normative ‘ ( Entwistle 1977:111 ) , societal position as to what is worthwhile. However, this is debatable even if there is a clear consensus as to what is ‘worthwhile ‘ . As Carr ( 2003:72 ) argues, the most widespread beliefs are non needfully the ‘right ‘ beliefs. Aside from raising the complex philosophical inquiry as to what ‘right ‘ agencies, this raises the inquiry as to the societal function of teacher professionalism. Are they at that place to go through on the values that exit or should they be ‘transformative ‘ , ‘contributing to societal alteration ‘ ( Menter et al 2010:24 ) .

It is from these observations upon the relationship between cultural choice and values, and the possible nexus to issues of societal justness, that it possibly seems unequal to understand instructors ‘ professionalism strictly in footings of practical accomplishments or even in footings of professional opinions based upon pedagogical cognition.

Rather it would look to propose, as many ( e.g. Goodson 2003 ; Campbell 2003 ; Carr 2006 ) do, that as instruction is implicated in organizing scholars ‘ universe positions and values, it is inherently concerned with ethical considerations. These writers suggest that it is these ethical concerns and opinions that instructors have to do, that Markss learning out as a profession.

Carr ( 2006:172 ) argues that whilst all businesss are in some manner concerned with ethical issues, these by and large play a ‘regulative ‘ function – they indicate criterions for good pattern. However he suggests that ethical considerations are ‘constitutive ‘ of learning. This is possibly more clear in Campbell ‘s ( 2008:604 ) averment that it is:

‘ … disputing to extricate the moralss of learning from the really procedure, pattern and content of teachingaˆ¦ ‘

This would look to propose that the determinations and actions made by instructors involve opinions as to what is right and incorrect non simply in a proficient sense, but instead in a moral sense.

As it is suggested that ethical issues are inbuilt into the very nature of instruction, Campbell ( 2008:605 ) argues that ‘ethical codifications ‘ are deficient to turn to the issues faced by instructors. Rather she suggests that instructors requires an understanding by instructors of the complex moral issues they must turn to ( Campbell 2008:605 ) . Carr ( 2006:178 ) suggests that it is about instructors ‘taking moral issues and inquiries earnestly ‘ . It should be noted that this does non propose that instructors do non presently take moral and ethical considerations earnestly ; Campbell ( 2003:2 ) argues that many instructors are cognizant of the moral deductions of their opinions.

However, Locke et Al. ( 2005:570 ) do suggest that when instructors are capable to high degrees of answerability it can take instructors ‘doing things right ‘ instead than ‘doing the right thing ‘ .

Potentially, hence, the CfE ‘s focal point on greater liberty could supply greater flexibleness for instructors to do the determinations they regard to be ethically sound. At the same clip, by increasing instructors ‘ range for taking what to learn the ethical nature of instructor opinion possibly becomes even more outstanding.

However, pulling upon the suggestion that the framing of instructor professionalism in policy is important to pattern, it would look of import that the ethical nature of professionalism is present in official discourse if instructors are to be afforded the clip and infinite to earnestly prosecute with these issues.

The CfE may good be regarded as affording instructors greater liberty to do professional determinations as to what they teach. There besides appears to be acknowledgment ( e.g. Scots Government 2009a ) of the importance of instructors ‘ professional cognition and expertness. However, in sing the issues involved in choosing course of study content it seems just to reason that the professional function of instructors can non be framed strictly in footings of pedagogical cognition and expertness. Rather it would look that any consideration of teacher professionalism must earnestly see the ethical dimension of instruction.

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