Critiquing Curriculum Policy Reform in Finland and Australia:

A Non-affirmative, and Praxis-oriented Approach

Abstract

This paper draws upon key national curriculum policy documents as evidence of reform in Finland and Australia to analyze whether and how they appear to provide the opportunity for a genuinely educational experience for students, oriented towards the good for all, or whether they reflect more restrictive, ‘predetermined’ influences and foci. Specifically, we focus upon the aims, content and methods advocated within the principal curriculum policy documents in each context, and analyze the extent to which they seem to allow for teacher and school autonomy, and a more praxis-oriented approach, or whether they reflect more directive, and performative policy foci. To analyze the extent to which such autonomy is evident, we draw upon the German educationalist Dietrich Benner’s notion of ‘non-affirmative’ education as an analytical concept, and to analyze whether a more praxis-oriented approach is evident, we draw upon neo-Aristotelian notions of practice as praxis. Through a comparative analysis of the Finnish and Australian curriculum policy circumstances, we argue how more neoliberal influences have influenced both countries, but also how the Finnish context seems to provide the opportunity for a more open, ‘non-affirmative’ approach to the aims, content and methods of curriculum reform, while the Australian context is potentially more restrictive in this regard, even as there is evidence of some support for such approaches. The article reveals the power of a comparative approach, and how the broader conditions within which curriculum policy development unfolds, including assessment practices, influence the nature of the content of curriculum policy, with potentially significant effects for curriculum reform enactment.

Author Biographies

Ian Hardy, School of Education, The University of Queensland
Ian Hardy (PhD, University of Queensland) is Associate Professor at the School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Dr Hardy researches and teaches educational policy and practice, with a particular focus upon the politics of educational practices, including in relation to teachers’ work and learning under current policy conditions. He was previously Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia. He is author of The politics of teacher professional development: Policy, research and practice (New York: Routledge, 2012). Recent work has involved researching the nature of teachers’ learning in relation to curricula policy practices, and globalized educational reform practices more generally, in Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States. He works and lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Michael Uljens, General Education and Educational Leadership at Åbo Akademi University
After his appointment as professor in education at Helsinki university in the year 2000, Michael Uljens has since 2003 been working as professor of General Education and Educational Leadership at Åbo Akademi University. Prof. Uljens has also been working at different universities in Sweden (Gothenburg, Uppsala, Umeå), Germany (Humboldt university), Malta and the USA (Arizona) and in China (ECNU, Shanghai). Michael Uljens leads a research program "Non-Affirmative Educational Theory and Hermeneutic School Development in a Globopolitan Era". In its theoretical parts the projects reconstructs and develops core notions of modern education focussing Bildung, intersubjectivity, recognition and hermeneutics, in developing theory of pedagogical collaborative activity in a globopolitan perspective. In its empirical parts the project studies research supported development of educational leadership from classrooms to transnational levels. Many of his publications mediate between Nordic, German and Anglo-American approaches to Didaktik, curriculum studies and General Education (Allgemeine Pädagogik). He has been working with both quantitative (Lisrel) and qualitative methods (phenomenography). He has published in Swedish, Finnish, English and German. Some work is translated into Polish and Japanese. In his most recent book (https://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319586489), free to be downloaded by anyone, he argues that successful school development in a globopolitan era requires a coordinated, balanced and systemic multi-level approach including curriculum and policy work, school leadership and teaching. Recent publications: www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Uljens2/publications

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Published
2018-11-21