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Editorial: Curriculum: What, how and for whom?

Carol Mutch

Curriculum is a hotly contested notion, yet it is a relatively new concept in educational thought. Pratt (1980) claims that it was only during the 20th century that attempts were made to describe, analyse and interpret curriculum as a phenomenon. Other writers (for example, Hargreaves, 1994) also claim that it took until the 1960s for it to become a substantial field of study within educational research and development. In the New Zealand context, Ivan Snook suggests that we did not have a tradition of curriculum theorising. He explains (1995, p. 167), “A sturdy pragmatism, liberal sentiment and political slogans have served in its place.” Clive McGee’s (1997) book, Teachers and Curriculum Decision-Making marked a key point in moving New Zealand curriculum theorising forward to the point where, over the last 20 years, we have seen it evolve into a common topic of deliberation and debate as policy makers, academics and practitioners contest definitions, challenge assumptions and bring different lenses to bear on the concept. The development of scholarly journals based in New Zealand, such as Curriculum Matters, helps keep these deliberations and debates to the fore, albeit with a continuing thread of sturdy pragmatism and liberal sentiment.

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