The politics of pedagogy: civics education and epistemology at Victorian primary schools, 1930s and 1950s

The politics of pedagogy: civics education and epistemology at Victorian primary schools, 1930s... Barry Down describes curriculum design in much the same way when he claims that in the years following World War Two Australian civics education was planned under ‘perpetual tension and conflict between the imperatives of capitalism and democracy’. The suggestion seems to be that an ideal democratic education is possible, if short‐term political and economic considerations had not prevented this. I argue that this suggestion is naive. The democratic idea is not static ‘short term prudential requirements of the moment’, whether concerned with war, imperialism, fear of communism, industrial development, or otherwise, create the conditions by which democratic society is defined. This definition is embedded in civics education with the hope that children might perfect that society in adulthood. But visions of the ideal society do not only concern civics education, lessons on right behaviour. Rather, the very world children are educated to see depends on the politics and economics at the time that curriculum is designed. The content of lessons, the way the lessons are taught, and the underlying assumptions about what the world is like ‐ all are constituted by politics. Therefore, to understand civics education it is important to delve deeper and locate the epistemological basis of social studies education in the political context of its time. What children are taught about the social world as a whole should be considered before civics education can make any sense. To make this argument I look at the two curricula used at Victorian primary schools in the mid twentieth century, put in place in 1934 and 1952 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

The politics of pedagogy: civics education and epistemology at Victorian primary schools, 1930s and 1950s

History of Education Review, Volume 36 (2): 15 – Oct 14, 2007

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/08198691200700009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Barry Down describes curriculum design in much the same way when he claims that in the years following World War Two Australian civics education was planned under ‘perpetual tension and conflict between the imperatives of capitalism and democracy’. The suggestion seems to be that an ideal democratic education is possible, if short‐term political and economic considerations had not prevented this. I argue that this suggestion is naive. The democratic idea is not static ‘short term prudential requirements of the moment’, whether concerned with war, imperialism, fear of communism, industrial development, or otherwise, create the conditions by which democratic society is defined. This definition is embedded in civics education with the hope that children might perfect that society in adulthood. But visions of the ideal society do not only concern civics education, lessons on right behaviour. Rather, the very world children are educated to see depends on the politics and economics at the time that curriculum is designed. The content of lessons, the way the lessons are taught, and the underlying assumptions about what the world is like ‐ all are constituted by politics. Therefore, to understand civics education it is important to delve deeper and locate the epistemological basis of social studies education in the political context of its time. What children are taught about the social world as a whole should be considered before civics education can make any sense. To make this argument I look at the two curricula used at Victorian primary schools in the mid twentieth century, put in place in 1934 and 1952

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 14, 2007

Keywords: Curriculum; Teaching; Education; Childhood; Primary schools

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