• The democratic curriculum: concept and practice

      Hopkins, Neil; University of Bedfordshire (Wiley Blackwell, 2014-06-20)
      Dewey continues to offer arguments that remain powerful on the need to break down the divisions between ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ in terms of his specific theory of knowledge. Dewey's writings are used to argue that a democratic curriculum needs to challenge such divisions to encompass the many forms of knowledge necessary in the contemporary classroom. Gandin and Apple's investigation of community participation (Orçamento Participativo or Participatory Budgeting) in the curriculum of the Citizen School in Porto Alegre, Brazil, will be explored as an example of democratic structures informing educational planning. The work of Paul Hirst, Atli Harđarson and Chris Jane Brough is analysed regarding the issue of curriculum aims and student negotiation. Dewey's emphasis on learning as a collective enterprise will resonate here. Brough offers innovative research on student-centred curriculum integration that suggests even very young children are able to participate in debate over their own learning. Hirst and Harđarson provide contrasting views on the issue of curriculum aims—Hirst arguing that a curriculum cannot exist without definable aims while Harđarson challenges the very notion of settled aims if students are to be reflexive regarding their education. The article also refers to the work of Alexander on the use of dialogic questioning in the classroom. Such questioning, it is suggested, enhances and encourages collaborative forms of enquiry necessary for a democratic curriculum through discussion between teachers, students and other stakeholders.
    • Freedom as non-domination, standards and the negotiated curriculum

      Hopkins, Neil; University of Bedfordshire (Wiley Blackwell, 2015-03-18)
      This article investigates the application of Philip Pettit's concept of freedom as non-domination to the issues of educational standards and the negotiated curriculum. The article will argue that freedom as non-domination (and the connected concept of debating contestations as part of a legitimate democratic state) shines a critical light on governmental practice in England over the past two decades. Joshua Cohen's proposal of an ideal deliberative procedure is offered as a potential mechanism for the facilitation of debating contestations between stakeholders over the curriculum. Cohen places particular importance on the participants being ‘formally and substantively equal’ in the proceedings and being able to ‘recognize one another as having deliberative capacities’. It will be argued that formal and substantive equality between children and responsible adults is highly problematic due to the ‘considerable interference’ (Pettit) teachers and adults have to make in children's lives. However, the article does offer examples of children's deliberative capacities on the issue of the curriculum (in response to Cohen).