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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Curriculum coherence and teachers' decision-making in Scottish high school history syllabi
Author(s): Smith, Joseph
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Keywords: History education
historical knowledge
curriculum studies
teacher agency
Issue Date: Sep-2019
Date Deposited: 19-Aug-2019
Citation: Smith J (2019) Curriculum coherence and teachers' decision-making in Scottish high school history syllabi. Curriculum Journal, 30 (4), pp. 441-463.
Abstract: Debates over which historical content should be compulsory for study in the school curriculum are a common feature of education systems across the globe. These debates invariably weigh the perceived benefits to social cohesion of a ‘common core’ of knowledge against the perceived risks to democracy of government-sanctioned ‘official knowledge’. Scotland has, perhaps, taken an extreme position on this debate by specifying no mandatory historical content in its social studies curriculum. This paper uses 21 interviews with Scottish history teachers to explore how schools use this curricular autonomy: which historical periods they choose to teach and why.  The paper suggests that, without access to theoretical debates about the nature of historical knowledge, schools fall back on instrumental justifications for content selection within the curriculum. The result in many cases is an extremely narrow and fragmented syllabus in which pupil preference, teacher interests and the logistics of timetabling guide content selection.  The paper concludes that the formulation of coherent school-level history curricula is dependent on the fostering agency among a theoretically-informed teaching profession.
DOI Link: 10.1080/09585176.2019.1647861
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Curriculum Journal on 19 Aug 2019, available online:

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