I was recently invited to present a paper at the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS) conference convened at the George Washington University, Foggybottom Campus, D.C. My paper was an excerpt from my doctoral research findings (that I undertook at Bath, under the supervision of Dr. Mary Hayden) that applied Bernstein’s theory of “curriculum recontextualization” in international school settings.
Although I am a frequent presenter at international conferences, this one in particular was a new challenge for me for two specific reasons. One, this was my first time presenting in the United States of America. And two, my paper highlighted the work of Basil Bernstein –an important and controversial sociologist whose explicit discussion of the relationship between social class and access to different forms of educational knowledge was hitherto considered unacceptable to US audiences (Halliday, 1995). The fact that Bernstein posthumously received the American Sociological Association Sociology of Education Section Willard Waller Award for Lifetime Contributions to the sociology of education in August 2001, did not help reduce my anxiety.
Around the second day of the conference that it dawned on me that the themes concurrently highlighted the work of curriculum reconceptualists – and any doubt on this was completely removed when the third day was presided over by none other than William Pinar himself! (who challenged the “Tyler Rationale” after the same had been accepted unquestionably for almost 50 years, thus beginning the era of curriculum reconceptualists).
I have never before witnessed a conference that delved into the ‘meat and potatoes’ of curriculum theorizing and curriculum inquiry in such an in-depth manner- undoubtedly a critical piece in teacher education. I was truly excited! I owe it to the enriching discussions and debates that were a hallmark of the taught modules at Bath, facilitated during my EdD course work, that I felt quite comfortable participating in discussions presided over by curriculum gurus such as William Pinar.
Not only was my paper well received, but that the same is currently under review for being published in the AAACS journal came as a pleasant surprise to me. While the purpose of this short article is not to go into the details of the conference or my paper- I wish to focus on two important aspects that I hope current and future doctoral research students at Bath will find helpful.
One: never miss an opportunity to present your ideas as papers at conferences- you always come out with more ideas and lots of ‘free critique’ so to speak on your work that will come in very handy on the day of your viva. Two: I encourage more doctoral scholars to take up curriculum studies projects and critical inquiries in international schools that focus on curriculum studies for EdD modules.
Through both my research work, as well as a practicing curriculum consultant for international schools, I find that most international schools have a significant need for experts in curriculum and curriculum studies to be able to weave a sustainable vision of curriculum and instruction within the “revolving-door syndrome” stricken international school market. Why curriculum studies research do not attract too many research scholars was also discussed during the conference. Although this does not in any way deter my enthusiasm in getting ready for the next AAACS conference in April 2017!
Bernstein, B.,1971. On the Classification and Framing of Educational Knowledge. In M. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control (p. 47-69). London: Collier-Macmillan.
Bernstein, B., 1975. Class Codes and Control. Volume 3: Towards a Theory of Educational Transmissions. London, Henley and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Bernstein, B., 1990. The Structuring of Pedagogic Discourse (Vol. 4). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Halliday, M.A.K. (1995). Language and the theory of codes. In A.R. Sadovnik (Ed.). Knowledge and pedagogy. The sociology of Basil Bernstein (pp. 127-144). Norwood: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Tyler, R.W., 1949. Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Pinar, W. F., 1975. Curriculum theorizing: The reconceptualists. Berkeley, CA: McCutchen.
Pinar, W. F., 1979. What is Reconceptualization? Journal of curriculum Theorizing, 1(1), 93-104.
Pinar, W. F., 2008. Curriculum Theory since 1950, Crisis, Reconceptualization, Internationalization. In M. Connely, H, Fang & J. Phillion, J. (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. (491-513). Los Angeles: Sage
This article has appeared in the EdD Students’ Newsletter, University of Bath, UK, Spring Issue, 2016- Courtesy Dr. Janet Goodall.