Social values and schooling - Curriculum, counselling and the education of the adolescent, 1930-1970s

Year: 2008

Author: McLeod, Julie, Wright, Katie

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper maps the background to a cultural history of adolescence in Australia in the period 1930s-1970. The larger project examines the education of the adolescent, debates about the personal and civic values young people should embody, and the citizenship and social knowledge that schools should foster. These are matters that command considerable public and policy attention today, and are commonly aligned with concerns about students' wellbeing, which is part of personal development curriculum but also tied to whole-school and system agendas, supported by extensive policy frameworks and service provision. The following paper develops three main types of discussion. First, it outlines some of the ways in which our study is examining antecedents to contemporary concerns about social values and wellbeing, and the kind of policy and curriculum responses they have generated in earlier times. Second, in order to understand these matters and the education of the adolescent we propose to bring together the study of school curriculum and the study of student guidance and counselling, arguing that this allows for a more complex view of the formation of the 'personal' and of social knowledge and dispositions and the relationship between the two. Third, we outline the rationale for our decision to focus on the decades of the 1930s, 50s and 70s, and show why we are exploring the history of adolescence via an examination of school curriculum (policy reforms, knowledge areas, materials and texts) and student psychological guidance. Finally, much recent discussion about citizenship and school values has tended to be dominated by polemic and polarised positions, when their significance warrants responses from a variety of research-based perspectives. Historical studies provide valuable vantage points from which to assess the purposes and values of secondary schooling and its role in fostering young peoples' wellbeing and educating them towards citizenship.