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Equality and academic subjects

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A recent national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools in my home country, Iceland, requires secondary schools to work towards equality and five other overarching aims. This requirement raises questions about to what extent secondary schools have to change their curricula in order to approach these aims or work towards them in an adequate way. Textbooks on curriculum theory commonly invite their readers to choose between different perspectives that are presented as mutually exclusive. From one perspective, they tend to emphasize academic subjects, to the exclusion of perspectives that focus on improvement of society or individual development. There are, however, reasons to doubt that organizing a curriculum emphasizing general aims such as equality excludes using academic subjects as its principal building blocks. In this paper, I argue that if we take equality seriously as an aim of education, we should indeed emphasize academic school subjects, just as advocates of liberal education have done for a long time. Focusing on subjects and focusing on aims, such as equality, are therefore not mutually exclusive perspectives but two aspects that must coexist in any reasonable and sound pedagogy.

Keywords: curriculum design; educational objectives; educational philosophy; equality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2013

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