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Curriculum in Context

Partnership, Power and «Praxis» in Ireland

Jim Gleeson

This critical analysis locates Irish curriculum policy and practice in their broader socio-cultural and policy contexts. Such an analysis is particularly necessary at a time when Irish schools are experiencing unprecedented waves of curriculum reform in a context where substantive curriculum debates rarely occur. The book explores the implications of these contextual factors for ‘official’ understandings of and attitudes towards curriculum, with particular reference to the experiences of the curriculum development agencies, recent curriculum reforms and the nature of Irish curriculum contestation and discourse. Education and curriculum policy-making are considered from the perspectives of economic growth, social inclusion, policy fragmentation and the prevailing representational model of partnership. The study identifies the tensions that inevitably arise in attempting to achieve both quality and equality in education, and offers some alternatives to the prevailing contractual model of accountability. The author draws on his own long experience of curriculum development and evaluation and on interviews with key players in Irish curriculum decision-making.
Contents: Socio-cultural and political contexts of curriculum – Curriculum discourse, debate and contestation – Curriculum policy and practice – Advantages and disadvantages of partnership approach to policy making including legitimation – Education for human and social capital – Influence of technical interests – Curriculum fragmentation – Models of accountability – Balancing quality and equality in education – Importance of leadership – Recent developments in curriculum policy and practice.