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'Academic discipline` and 'school subject`: contestable curricular concepts

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Lurking just beneath the surface of much discussion of education/teacher education reform is a conceptual distinction of such taken-for-granted acceptability that educators virtually never take time to analyse it: the distinction between the academic discipline and the school subject. These two concepts are analysed as they figure in the construction of curriculum by: (1 ) examining a range of possibilities regarding the relationship between the academic discipline and its related school subject(s ); and (2) interpreting the meaning of each, using the various possible relationships as the context for meaning. It is suggested that academic discipline and school subject may be thought of as continuous, discontinuous, or different but related (in three variations). Using historical examples, actual curricular proposals associated with each possibility are described. Finally, an analysis is made of those meaning possibilities for their direct impact on curriculum (in terms of purpose, practice and substance ) and for their political impact on various vested interests.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1997

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