Dysfunctional dichotomies? Deflating bipolar constructions of curriculum and pedagogy through case studies from music and history

Cain, Tim and Chapman, Arthur (2014) Dysfunctional dichotomies? Deflating bipolar constructions of curriculum and pedagogy through case studies from music and history. Curriculum Journal, 25 (1). pp. 111-129. ISSN 0958-5176 DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/09585176.2013.877396

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Abstract

Recent public discussions of curriculum and pedagogy that have accompanied the English National Curriculum review have been structured around clichéd dichotomies that generate more heat than light and that, as Robin Alexander has argued, reduce ‘complex educational debates to bipolar slogans cast in a state of permanent and irreconcilable opposition’ (Alexander 2008, 72). This paper begins by exploring the ways in which these dichotomies have structured recent debates and goes on to examine two contemporary debates, in the fields of history education and music education. In the first case, we seek to show, through a discussion of ‘knowledge’ and ‘skill’ in history, drawing on the work of Hirsch (1966; 1988) and Wineburg (2001; 2007), that bipolar thinking is both inadequate and dysfunctional. A third term – disciplinary understanding – is advocated and explored. In the second case, we demonstrate that dichotomous thinking about formal and informal music education has generated a debate that has become more sophisticated as various authors have problematized and critiqued informal learning. This paper demonstrates that, although dichotomous thinking is sometimes pernicious, dichotomies can be generative when they are used to open up debate.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Debate, knolwedge/skills, formal/informal, secondary schools
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Divisions: Education
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 15:12
URI: http://repository.edgehill.ac.uk/id/eprint/6032

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