Journal Article

The Shaping of the Curriculum

Laurence Goldstein
Oxford Review of Education
Vol. 14, No. 2 (1988), pp. 215-225
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Page Count: 11
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The Shaping of the Curriculum
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Curriculum design might appear to be a project for a pure educational theory. An example of such a theory is Paul Hirst's deduction of distinct 'forms of knowledge' upon which rests his advocacy of the 'liberal curriculum'. Hirst's theory, though immune to many of the attacks that have been directed at it, fails to consider how (if at all) the structure of knowledge maps on to the structure of our mental (learning) faculties. The partitioning of the manifold of knowledge may correspond not at all to the optimum curricular partitioning of the teaching manifold. Further, as a curriculum proposal, Hirst's account needs to be underwritten by an account of the purpose of education. Accounts of the latter sort normally invoke considerations of a political nature. Such considerations, together with the influence of other forces, tend to pull curricula in directions which many educationalists regard as undesirable. Can pure educational theory reassert itself as the controlling force behind curriculum planning? I argue that there is little prospect of its so doing.