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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: The social practices of curriculum making
Author(s): Priestley, Mark
Supervisor(s): Allan, Julie
Keywords: curriculum
critical realism
Issue Date: Sep-2007
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the ‘problem’ of change in education, an issue characterised in much of the literature as a paradox of innovation without change. The thesis draws upon school-based empirical research, undertaken in the context of the reactions by Geography, History and Modern Studies teachers to the notion of teaching integrated social subjects, set against the wider framework of the Scottish Executive’s curriculum policy. The thesis first sets the topic in its Scottish and wider context, before undertaking a comprehensive review of the themes that emerge from the worldwide literature on educational change. These include the paradox of innovation without change, teacher mediation of change initiatives, departmental and school cultures, the subject centredness of schooling and factors that have been noted to underpin successful change initiatives. The thesis sets out a theoretical position that draws upon the critical realist social theory of Margaret Archer. This approach posits a centrist approach to the contentious structure/agency debate, suggesting a complex relationship between social structures, cultural forms and individual agency, whereby social reproduction and transformation are played out through continual social interaction. From this foundation of theory, I develop a practical methodology for researching change in school settings. My empirical work consists of a questionnaire sent to 100 schools, and two linked case studies, where data was collected through semi-structured interviews, observations and analysis of school documents. The research identifies trends in school provision and, through the case studies, the processes of curriculum making are investigated using the aforementioned methodology. The thesis concludes that such processes are ineluctably social practices, and that those seeking to innovate in schools should pay attention to the social dimensions of change – the engagement of people with ideas and the social structures that impede, distort or promote change. The thesis concludes by presenting a set of general principles that might serve to facilitate change promoted by future initiatives.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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