Schooling for Change: Reinventing Education for Early Adolescents

By Andy Hargreaves; Jim Ryan et al. | Go to book overview

7

Outcomes and Integration

Common and Core Curriculum

Criteria for Justifying a Common or Core Curriculum

A common or core curriculum can take many forms and be developed according to many criteria. There is no single justification for it. Many arguments have been advanced in favor of such a curriculum. Some compete, some are complementary. The particular kinds of common or core curricula that are developed usually reflect the criteria that are used to justify their creation. We have derived six such criteria that have been used as a rationale in various jurisdictions which have moved towards a core curriculum.

Equality of opportunity: This justification is common in most of the countries of Western Europe (Wake et al, 1979). Premature streaming or tracking, or premature choice among courses can injure students’ later life chances. A common or core curriculum is seen as a way of leaving options open until as late as possible and thereby helping equalize opportunities among classes, cultures and genders (Hargreaves, 1982; ILEA 1984; Adler, 1982; Boyer, 1983).

Educational quality:One commonly stated aim of school systems is bringing all students up to a basic level of competence by a particular grade so they can function fully as citizens in society (Radwanski, 1987; Sullivan, 1988; Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1989). High expectations are usually attached to these minimum standards in basic skills.

Transmission and development of the culture: A common or core curriculum is sometimes seen as a vehicle for transmitting and developing common values, knowledge and other learning considered important in the dominant culture. Although ‘sub-cultures’ are recognized, the need to develop a unified culture through a common or core curriculum is seen as important if people are to live together harmoniously and productively. (Barrow, 1979; Lawton, 1975; Williams, 1961). Hargreaves (1982) relates common or core curricula to the development and restoration of community and proposes that community studies form a key part of it. Griffiths (1980) insists that the rejuvenation of national cohesion will be achieved through a common or core curriculum taught to all students.

Educational entitlement: A common or core curriculum promises access to fundamental forms of knowledge that can enable students not only to reach

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