Guitar

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 120
  • Published : January 30, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Curriculum Integration:
Eroding the High Ground of Science as a School Subject?
Grady J. Venville, John Wallace, Léonie J. Rennie and John A. Malone Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology
GPO Box U1987
Perth 6845 WA Australia
Contact email: L.Rennie@smec.curtin.edu.au
A paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Fremantle: WA, 2-6 December 2001. Curriculum Integration:
Eroding the High Ground of Science as a School Subject?
This paper explores the issue of curriculum integration, with a particular focus on science as a discipline and its relationship with other subjects. We present our exploration in the form of our research journey, one that is yet to be completed. The journey has involved several strands of research and some unexpected turns. Some readers may not agree with the directions we have taken because of our questioning the primacy of science as a discipline and how it is represented as a school subject. And in fact, it is the nature of the school subject that seems to us to hold the key to understanding curriculum integration. So let us begin by explaining what we mean by a ‘subject’ and how it relates to the academic discipline it represents. A ‘minimalist’ definition of school subject is provided by Stengel (1997) as ‘that which is taught and learned in school’ (p. 958). The simplicity of the definition does not do justice to the depth and complexity of the relationship between the concepts ‘school subject’ and ‘academic discipline’. Stengel suggests that academic discipline and school subject have a range of possible relationships including continuous, discontinuous, and different-but-related. She argues that the manner in which stakeholders interpret the relationship between these concepts has a direct impact on curriculum in terms of purpose, practice and substance. Goodson and Marsh (1996) take a more contextual approach by using a ‘block in a mosaic’ (p. 150) metaphor to describe the school subject. They say that the subject mosaic has been painstakingly constructed over the centuries and is but one prism through which we can view the structure of schooling. In this paper, we use a combination of these two approaches to define what we mean by school subject. From Stengel we borrow the idea of that which is taught and learned in school, acknowledging the relationship this has with the notion of academic discipline. From Goodson and Marsh we borrow the idea of a block in a mosaic to portray the notion that school subjects, such as science, mathematics, English and art, for example, are single pieces of a complex picture that makes up a school system. Goodson (1992) characterized the school subject in the British, American and Australian high school curriculum as ‘unchallengeable high ground’ (p. 23) that hardly felt the effects of the waves of curriculum reform of the 1960s. Nearly a decade later Goodson’s words still ring with truth. Throughout the western world, curriculum documents stand as evidence that the school subject is as strong as ever. The Australian Education Council, for example, described National Statements and Profiles in eight curriculum areas, including science (Curriculum Corporation, 1994a, 1994b), and the states and territories in Australia have developed their own versions of this curriculum document, all of which are structured in specific learning areas — or subjects (for example, Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 1998; Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2001). In England, the National Curriculum (Department for Employment and Education, 2000) defines a range of subjects to be taught as a core curriculum in all schools. Goodson (1992) points out the ‘uncanny’ resemblance of the core curriculum to the definition of public and grammar school subjects established in the 1904 Regulations and confirmed in the School Certificate Examinations of 1917. Siskin (1994) claims...
tracking img