The relationship between the school curriculum and the struggle for power : a study in the philosophy of education

Coetzee, Melane (1995)

Thesis (D. Ed.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1995.

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Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The fact that meanings of what is transmitted in schools is under attack from various power struggles has focused attention on the role of curricular knowledge as a supposed instrument of cultural domination and/or discrimination. Hence, in this study the power of knowledge (or "truth") is explored in regard to both its purpose and the person or group in control of that purpose, while the struggle for power is viewed in the light of attempts (or demands on the school curriculum) to gain partial or complete control of the purpose and selection of curricular knowledge. So as to gain an understanding of the relationship between the struggle for power and the school curriculum, five examples of power struggles have been selected as a focus on the most important trends in the prevailing demands on the school curriculum: Feminism, the Gay movement, People's Education, the economy and the environment (the Green movement). The outcome of this study is that, in one way or another, most demands on the school curriculum reflect the fact that it is the dominant Western cultural tradition that is suffering a crisis. Increasingly, the intensifying demands on the school curriculum is symptomatic of a broader crisis, of a challenge to the Western-oriented interpretation of truth with its main roots in science and the perception that access to the economy is imperative to the "life chances", or visions of accumulated (personal) wealth, of the majority of people on earth. Therefore, underlying most demands on the school curriculum is the crucial question of the fundamental aims of education interpreted in terms of the (at times) competing aims of the various power struggles. Criticism of, and demands on, the school curriculum are mostly influenced by changing interpretations of freedom, equality and human dignity. Likewise, changes in the social consciousness profoundly influence the legitimation of truth (or the power of knowledge) in accordance with changing interpretations of the democratic ideal in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ongoing power struggles (or demands on the school curriculum), therefore, have the important function of preserving a democratic balance between power and knowledge in the school curriculum.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die feit dat die betekenis van dit wat in die skool oorgedra word die skyf geword het van groepe wat aan die magstryd deelneem, vestig die aandag op die skoolkurrikulum as 'n hulpmiddel tot oorheersing en/of diskriminasie. In hierdie studie word die mag van kennis (of "waarheid") verken, enersyds wat die doel en andersyds wat die persoon of groep in beheer van die doel betref, terwyl die magstryd in verband gebring word met pogings (eise) om gedeeltelike of algehele beheer oor die doel en keuse van die inhoud van die skoolkurrikulum te verkry. In 'n paging om die verhouding tussen die magstryd en die skoolkurrikulum beter te verstaan, word vyf voorbeelde van 'n magstryd voorgehou om die belangrikste neigings in die hedendaagse eise teen die skoolkurrikulum toe te lig: Die Feminisme, die "Gay"-beweging, "People's Education", die ekonomie en die omgewing (die Groen-beweging). Daar word tot die slotsom gekom dat eise wat aan die skoolkurrikulum gestel word 'n weerspiëeling is daarvan dat die dominante Westerse kulturele tradisie 'n krisis beleef. Hierdie verskerpte eise aan die skoolkurrikulum is al hoe meer simptomaties van 'n breer krisis, naamlik die protes teen die Westers-georienteerde interpretasie van waarheid gebaseer op sowel die wetenskap as die persepsie dat toegang tot die ekonomie allernoodsaaklik vir die selfverwesenliking, oftewel visioene van opgegaarde (persoonlike) rykdom, van die meeste mense op aarde is. Die meeste eise aan die skoolkurrikulum word gebaseer op die kernvraag oor die basiese doelstellings van die opvoeding soos vertolk volgens die (soms teenstrydige) doelstellings onder die potensiele magsgroepe. Sulke eise word meestal beïnvloed deur klemverskuiwings in die vertolking van vryheid, gelykheid en menswaardigheid. Eweneens beïnvloed klemverskuiwings in die sosiale gewete (of "powershifts") die legitimiteit van die waarheid (of die mag van kennis) ooreenkomstig veranderende interpretasies van die demokratiese ideaal soos omskryf deur die Universele Handves van Menseregte. Voortdurende magstryde (of eise ten opsigte van die kurrikulum) speel dus 'n baie belangrike rol om 'n demokratiese balans tussen mag en kennis in die skoolkurrikulum te handhaaf.

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