About the Project
The project School knowledge, working knowledge and the knowing subject: a review of state curriculum policies 1975-2005 was funded as a Discovery Project by the Australian Research Council for 2007 and 2008, and was supplemented by further funding from the University of Melbourne through 2009. The main work on this project has now finished, but themes and questions developed from the project continue to be the focus of work by the project leader, Professor Lyn Yates in her new Australian Research Council Discovery Project Knowledge Building in Schooling and Higher Education: policy strategies and effects.
The background to the original project was a meeting of curriculum scholars from around Australia held at the University of Melbourne in October 2006. Participants were concerned about the decline in serious study of curriculum in teacher education and postgraduate study, and the extent to which curriculum discussion in Australia is dominated by political agendas and by media and single issue advocacy and lacks broader historical perspective and wider knowledge of curriculum scholarship. The current project was developed as one contribution to providing a basis for Australian students, teachers and policy-makers to take stock of how curriculum has developed in this country.
The intention of the project was to build an initial mapping and resource and an overview analysis of what has been important in curriculum formulation around the different Australian states from 1975 to 2005. As a two-year project with a national scope, this was not intended to provide a detailed history of curriculum over that period. Rather the intention was to focus at 10 year intervals on the key documents, emphases and formulations evident. It was a project working with policy texts and with interviews, and confined to a secondary schooling focus. Its analysis of curriculum policy was centered on these questions:
- Where is knowledge seen to reside, and what sort of a thing is it seen to be?
- How are the 'academic' and 'vocational' purposes of schooling depicted?
- What characteristics and dispositions is the learner assumed to bring to schooling, and how is difference among learners construed in terms of curriculum policies?
- What types of knowledge and what types of outcomes are named as core?
- How are agendas about schooling as a vehicle of knowledge and learning of the young being put together with agendas about schooling as a mechanism of competitive selection for life beyond school?
The intention was to gain a sense of changes over time (in those decades preceding the formation of a National Curriculum Board), and also to gain a sense of differences and commonalities in values and approaches of the different Australian states to curriculum questions. For those interested in a more detailed account of the background, rationale, design and international and national theoretical context of the project, this can be accessed in Part E of the ARC application