Contesting control; Playing a political game. Educational research and curriculum development in contexts of constraint

Year: 2001

Author: Penney, Dawn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Since the Education Reform Act of 1988, in England and Wales we have witnessed the development of a comprehensive array of policy initiatives designed to collectively (re-)establish central government control of the curriculum. Teachers, teacher educators and researchers can all claim to have been marginalised in and by these developments. All are increasingly positioned and portrayed as technicians. Drawing upon experience of undertaking qualitative and ethnographic research that has spanned a decade of policy and curriculum development in physical education, this paper will consider how educational researchers may be proactive in seeking to re-position themselves more centrally in curriculum development work. It will argue that if we are to be more active players in a political game, we need to review and extend established conceptualisations of educational research, and specifically, explore the ways in which power-relations clearly constrain but also enable researchers to actively engage in developments. The politics and ethics of researchers attempting to take a strategic stance in a highly contested curriculum field are discussed.