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Reading economics, thinking education: The relevance—and irrelevance—of economic theory for curriculum research

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This paper aims to better understand economists’ increasingly influential voice to the conversation of schooling and education. It draws on curriculum theory to develop a framework for analysis of current economic research in education. The framework consists of the following tri-partition: the political, the practical, and the programmatical. Through this framework, the authors are able to discuss a broad range of economics of education articles. The aim is 2-fold: partly to convey important insights into findings and tools of relevance to educational research, but ultimately to improve curriculum research. This study draws attention to areas of educational research, and particularly curriculum theory, where the insights of economists might be used with caution and in light of current thinking in curriculum research. A central finding from the analysis is that the two traditions (education and economics) are more complementary than conflicting. Yet, it is argued that, by failing to engage with educational literature, economists included in this review greatly over-simplify schooling and education.
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Keywords: curriculum studies; economics of education; education policy; education research

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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