New basics, new curriculum: making old schools 'new'

Stephens, Anne (2003) New basics, new curriculum: making old schools 'new'. In: Proceedings of the International Conference of the Middle Years of Schooling Association. From: Third International Conference of the Middle Years of Schooling Association, 8-10 May 2003, Brisbane. (Unpublished)

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[Extract] Schools are complex places. They are grand social institutions, situated in local places, the site of complex cultural struggles. In the schoolyard and in the classroom, individuals seek to find their identity mediating the images, messages and knowledges about their world. Simultaneously, issues of 'complex connectivity' (Tomlinson, 1999), the rapidly moving networks of 'interdependencies that characterise modern social life' (p. 4), place economic, political and environmental pressures from local, state, national and global realms, on schools. Pressures that are valued are welcomed and desirable, and enter through the front door. Devalued cultural entities, commonly misunderstood and considered devious by teachers and parents, arrive by jumping the fences, hitchhiking in backpacks, or as illegal downloads, and remain marginalised by the dominant authority but are often fiercely guarded within youth cultures being played out in the school yard and classrooms. Other sets of values may be forced upon a school and become included in the school's rhetoric, but excluded in the practice of the social rituals performed by the school community in school culture. Some of the significant choices schools make in their response to globalisation are the issues I examine in this paper. Is it morally correct or educationally valid that some schools fail to mediate complex connectivity? Is trying to insulate their structures, policies, curriculum and students from the impact of globalisation ethically and morally more destructive to local cultural and economic communities left to battle the impacts on their own? Or do schools open their doors, engage in multidimensional flows and attempt to make sense of "fluid, irregular shapes … that characterise international capital as deeply as they do international clothing styles" (Appadurai, 1996, p 7). Process analysis of marginalisation issues that emerge at the interfaces between global forces and local cultures reveals boundary judgements and effected consequences on the community or systems within those boundary perimeters. For the purposes of this paper, I have chosen to analyse two schools currently operating within the New Basics (NB) Queensland Middle School Renewal Trial. NB, I argue, is the embodiment of global, national, state and local connectivities, and therefore, a curriculum model designed for students and teachers to mediate the complexities of globalisation. The implementation of NB in the two schools shows how schools respond to globalization at the level of curriculum and pedagogical reform. One school has embraced the trial, providing leadership, resourcing and ideology to facilitate rapid and massive change, while the other has adopted a minimalist approach to implementation in an attempt to avoid and shelter the school from its full impact. This paper's analysis concludes by considering the consequences of each school's reaction and responses to the NB in the context of uncertain political realities in the future, and makes predictions of the schools' situated preparedness in the event of differing political outcomes.

Item ID: 22044
Item Type: Conference Item (Non-Refereed Research Paper)
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Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 00:17
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education @ 100%
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