Curriculum reform, professional knowledge and the ‘Education Revolution’

Year: 2013

Author: Farrell, Lesley, Gerrard, Jessica

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
In this paper we examine the ways in which the current Australian Curriculum (AC) policy reform works to frame the dimensions of what counts as teachers’ professional knowledge and discretion. There is a long-standing tension surrounding teachers’ claim to professional discretion and authority and the institutional claim to constrain and direct teachers’ work. In Australia, the current recalibration of systems-level policies and relationships surrounding the AC reform is providing the opportunity to rearticulate teachers’ work. Framed by the changing dynamics of the ‘federal education field’ prompted by the ‘Education Revolution’, the AC reform signifies an important policy instantiation of not only curriculum knowledge, but also teachers’ professional knowledge and discretion. In this paper, we examine the ways in which the AC policy settlement has produced particular types of instantiations surrounding teachers’ role in the AC reform. Drawing on institutional ethnography and Bourdieuian field analysis, we explore the intersections between policy texts, policy makers, political actors, and institutional governance within the AC reform in order to understand how teachers are positioned within AC policy. We suggest that the need to bracket the AC as ‘curricula knowledge’ led to a policy separation between curriculum and pedagogy, having significant ramifications for the ways in which teachers are understood to act in relation to the AC. Developing upon our analysis of policy makers’ articulations of teachers’ role in the AC reform, we examine the ways in which the AC policy settlement specifically, and the Education Revolution more generally, has worked to create domains of professional knowledge and expertise. The result of this, we argue, is the creation of ‘policy gaps’ whereby policy distinctions between curriculum and pedagogy are reinforced by accompanying institutional distinctions (e.g. ACARA & AITSL), and in turn produce discursive distinctions regarding the understanding of teachers’ professional knowledge and discretion.

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