School Subjects and Curriculum Change: Studies in Curriculum History

School Subjects and Curriculum Change: Studies in Curriculum History

School Subjects and Curriculum Change: Studies in Curriculum History

School Subjects and Curriculum Change: Studies in Curriculum History


The process of curriculum development is highly practical, as Goodson shows in this enlarged anniversary third edition of his seminal work. The position of subjects and their development within the curriculum is illustrated by looking at how school subjects, in particular, geography and biology, gained academic and intellectual respectability within the whole curriculum during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He highlights how subjects owe their formation and accreditation to competing status and their power to compete in the provision of 'worthwhile' knowledge and considers subjects as continually changing sub-groups of information. Such subjects from the framework of the society in which individuals live and over which they have influence. This volume questions the basis on which subject disciplines are developed and formulates new possibilities for curriculum development and reform in a post-modrnist age.


On September 15, 1982, my wife and son and I set off on a strange family mission. We were driving down to my Mum and Dad in the West Country for a two week visit. Formally, the visit was so that we could all share my son’s (4th) and my (39th) birthday. But there was a second more bizarre rationale. I had written a book and was taking down an early copy to show my folks.

Later on in the day I watched my Dad looking at the book, turning it over in his hands. He muttered a few things about ‘one of us’ writing a book—but beyond a certain pride which was discernible, his main emotion was of utter incredulity. Let me explain this response—for it is a matter of family genealogy as much as anything.

Before I do this though, let me stay with family tradition and tell a related story. Barry Hines wrote a best-selling book called KES that was made into a film. Barry was also a working class bloke who went into teaching. But he returned to his terraced home in the north of England to write his book. Sitting in the upstairs bedroom, he heard his mother talking over the garden fence.

Neighbour: So your Barry’s come home.

Mom: Yes, It’s nice…

Neighbour: What’s he working at?

Mom: (mixture of pride and defensiveness)

Oh, he’s not working, he’s writing a book.


Neighbour: Oh, what a pity, with his education.

There were strong echoes of this reaction in my own background. James Goodson, my Grandad, had twelve children. Eleven daughters and the youngest, a son, my dad. (This incidentally led to the nearest we had to a family motto: my grandma was 46 when my dad was born, and declared to the midwife ‘We’re a very persistent family’.) James was described as ‘unemployed’ on most of the children’s birth certificates, but occasionally found work as a ‘hired man’ working as a ‘railway platelayer’ and ‘harvester’. James

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