Dysfunctional dichotomies? Deflating bipolar constructions of curriculum and pedagogy through case studies from music and history

Tim Cain, Arthur Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recent public discussions of curriculum and pedagogy that have accompanied the English National Curriculum review have been structured around clichéd dichotomies that generate more heat than light and that, as Robin Alexander has argued, reduce ‘complex educational debates to bipolar slogans cast in a state of permanent and irreconcilable opposition’ (Alexander 2008, 72). This paper begins by exploring the ways in which these dichotomies have structured recent debates and goes on to examine two contemporary debates, in the fields of history education and music education. In the first case, we seek to show, through a discussion of ‘knowledge’ and ‘skill’ in history, drawing on the work of Hirsch (1966; 1988) and Wineburg (2001; 2007), that bipolar thinking is both inadequate and dysfunctional. A third term – disciplinary understanding – is advocated and explored. In the second case, we demonstrate that dichotomous thinking about formal and informal music education has generated a debate that has become more sophisticated as various authors have problematized and critiqued informal learning. This paper demonstrates that, although dichotomous thinking is sometimes pernicious, dichotomies can be generative when they are used to open up debate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-129
Number of pages19
JournalCurriculum Journal
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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music
music lessons
curriculum
history
history of education
informal learning
opposition

Keywords

  • debate
  • formal/informal
  • knowledge/skills
  • secondary schools

Cite this

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title = "Dysfunctional dichotomies? Deflating bipolar constructions of curriculum and pedagogy through case studies from music and history",
abstract = "Recent public discussions of curriculum and pedagogy that have accompanied the English National Curriculum review have been structured around clich{\'e}d dichotomies that generate more heat than light and that, as Robin Alexander has argued, reduce ‘complex educational debates to bipolar slogans cast in a state of permanent and irreconcilable opposition’ (Alexander 2008, 72). This paper begins by exploring the ways in which these dichotomies have structured recent debates and goes on to examine two contemporary debates, in the fields of history education and music education. In the first case, we seek to show, through a discussion of ‘knowledge’ and ‘skill’ in history, drawing on the work of Hirsch (1966; 1988) and Wineburg (2001; 2007), that bipolar thinking is both inadequate and dysfunctional. A third term – disciplinary understanding – is advocated and explored. In the second case, we demonstrate that dichotomous thinking about formal and informal music education has generated a debate that has become more sophisticated as various authors have problematized and critiqued informal learning. This paper demonstrates that, although dichotomous thinking is sometimes pernicious, dichotomies can be generative when they are used to open up debate.",
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note = "Alexander, R. (2008). Essays on Pedagogy. London and New York: Routledge. Allsup, R.E. (2003). Mutual learning and democratic action in instrumental music education. Journal of Research in Music Education 51, (1), 45-68. Allsup, R.E. (2008). Creating an educational framework for popular music in public schools: Anticipating the second-wave. Visions of Research in Music Education 12, 1-12. Allsup, R. E., Westerlund, H., & Shieh, E. (2012). Youth culture and secondary education. In G. E. McPherson and G. F. Welch (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of music education, Volume 1 (pp. 460-475). New York: Oxford University Press. Arthur, J. And Phillips, R. (eds.) (2000) Issues in History Teaching. London: Routledge. Ashby, R. (2011). ‘Understanding historical evidence: teaching and learning’. In I. Davies (ed.) Debates in History Teaching. London: Routledge. Bernstein, B. (1971). On the classification and framing of educational knowledge. In M. F. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control: New directions for the sociology of education (pp. 47-69). New York: Collier Macmillan. Boffey, D. (2013) ‘'Old school and old-fashioned': historians turn their fire on Gove’, The Observer, Saturday 16 February 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/feb/16/historians-gove-curriculum Boyle, B., D. White, and T. Boyle. (2004). A longitudinal study of teacher change: What makes professional development effective? The Curriculum Journal 15, 1: 45",
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Dysfunctional dichotomies? Deflating bipolar constructions of curriculum and pedagogy through case studies from music and history. / Cain, Tim; Chapman, Arthur.

In: Curriculum Journal, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2014, p. 111-129.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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