Year: 1990

Author: Kennedy, Kerry J

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The curriculum of schools has not been immune from the flurry of activity that has characterised State-Federal relationships in education during the third and fourth Hawke Labor governments. Much of this activity has been generated by the Commonwealth Minister for Employment, Education and Training in his pursuit of a program of micro-economic reform directly related to education and training.

It is in this context that discussion of a uniform curriculum for all
Australian schools has gathered momentum in recent years. Yet there are
inherent problems in proposing such uniformity in a Federal system of
government in which the States and Territories have traditionally guarded their rights in the area of school level education. Even the relatively harmless efforts of the former Curriculum Development Centre have run into barrages of flak from State governments when it has seemed that for some reason or other States' rights have been infringed. Can it be seriously argued that in Australia in the 1990's we are facing the prospect of a corporatised curriculum designed to be implemented in all Australian schools?

There are two reasons for reacting positively to this question. In the past two years a well articulated philosophical argument has been advanced as the basis for a more uniform approach to curriculum provision. What is more, that argument has been listened to seriously by all Australian Ministers for Education who have responsibility for curriculum policy in each State and Territory. It could well be argued that Australia is closer to a corporate curriculum than it ever has been.

In this paper, I shall attempt to outline both the philosophy underlying current efforts at national curriculum policy development and the processes that are being used to try and influence the curriculum of schools. I shall argue that while the general phiosophical directions are clear, there is considerable doubt about the extent to which Australia can expect a uniform national curriculum in the 1990's.