Rethinking (Curriculum) History

Year: 2016

Author: Green, Bill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Does history matter? What constitutes history? Why history? Which history? Questions such as these are increasingly on the scholarly agenda. This is despite a consistent and pervasive refusal of history in mainstream educational work, in both policy and practice, including work specifically concerned with curriculum, as now a largely naturalised concept. Curriculum history is nonetheless an important aspect not only of educational research more generally, but also of ‘history of education’ as a distinct area of educational studies, although even there it remains curiously marginal and all too often undervalued. Within curriculum studies per se, curriculum history is also still relatively a minority activity, despite post-Reconceptualist recognition of the centrality of history in and for curriculum inquiry (Pinar et al, 1995; Baker [Ed.], 2009). History is more than simply a matter of engaging the past, however, and new thinking in the field is opening up rich possibilities for going beyond the current boundaries of curriculum-historical inquiry and the historical imagination.This paper presents a theoretical account of curriculum history, drawing generally on poststructuralist theory and philosophy as well as more specifically on new developments and debates in History as a distinctive field of study (e.g. Ermath, 2012; Cormack & Green, 2009). Concepts and arguments from Foucault and Derrida are deployed to outline a view of history as discourse-practice, as one distinct axis of consideration (Derrida, 1978; Foucault, 1991). Attention is also given to rethinking the temporal dimension of history, as a second key axis, and a case is made for taking seriously not only the present in historical inquiry (as in ‘history of the present’) but also the future (Adam, 2010; Facer, 2013). The resulting complication is presented not so much as a conceptual framework as, rather, a table of invention for rethinking curriculum history, in accordance with new resources and impulses in intellectual inquiry.ReferencesAdam, Barbara (2010). “History of the Future: Paradoxes and Challenges”, Rethinking History, Vol. 14, No 3, pp. 361-378.Baker, Bernadette [Ed.] (2009). New Curriculum History. Rotterdam: Sense.Cormack, Phillip & Green, Bill (2009). “Re-Reading the Historical Record: Curriculum History and the Linguistic Turn”. In: Bernadette Baker (Ed.), New Curriculum History. Rotterdam: Sense, pp. 223-236.Derrida, Jacques (1978). “Différance”. In: Margins of Philosophy, Translated, with Additional Notes, by Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-27. Ermath, Elizabeth Deeds (2011). History in the Discursive Tradition: Reconsidering the Tools of Thought, London & New York: Routledge.Facer, Keri (2013). “The Problem of the Future and the Possibilities of the Present in Education Research”, International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 61, pp. 135-143.Foucault, Michel. (1991). “Questions of Method”. In: Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon & Peter Miller (Eds.), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality (pp. 73-86). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Pinar, W. F., Reynolds, W. M., Slattery, P. & Taubman, P. (1995). Understanding Curriculum, New York: Peter Lang.