A Curriculum for whom? Representations of the rural in the Australian Curriculum

Year: 2012

Author: Roberts, Philip, Drummond, Aaron

Type of paper: Refereed paper


The development of an Australian Curriculum, by definition, has necessitated the prioritization of a national agenda over a state or local one. While the implementation of an Australian Curriculum may hold numerous benefits for students, parents and teachers, the potential for drawbacks is high. Because the development of the new Australian Curriculum is based on a particular view of the nation and its preferred future, one drawback is that the curriculum privileges particular values, while marginalizing others. In this paper we use data from two independent studies, one an interview on rural school preparedness and the other interviews with rural (history) teachers, to explore the place of rurality within the curriculum, and consequently the nation. These studies focus upon the relevance of what is termed 'local knowledge' and how this knowledge relates to rural place. These data suggest that the Australian Curriculum values a metropolitan form of cosmopolitanism as evidenced in its rationale and the knowledge privileged within, while treating rural views with ambivalence. This ambivalence implies that the knowledge that rural students bring to school, being distinct and at times at odds with that valued in the curriculum, may result in student dissatisfaction and disengagement. Such disconnection can be challenging for rural students' belonging, and lead to serious questions about their, and their communities, place in the nation.   Similarly teachers for whom the students' background knowledge is foreign are likely to experience reactions of professional dissatisfaction and likely leave these school settings.  Through examining the place of rurality in the Australian Curriculum we suggest that educators are better able to understand the national image they are complicit in creating.