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This is a classic text that has been very influential in the development of practitioner and action research by teachers. Stenhouse focuses proposes a model for the curriculum as an enquiry-based process. By this he means that teachers and students (we might include parents and the local community) should work together to plan, evaluate and develop the content, learning experiences and outcomes of schooling so that it becomes a rich education with learning for all those involved.
Now this proposal may seem strange because most of us have been educated within a kind of industrial or business model of curriculum. This model is led primarily by objectives or learning outcomes. In this model the purpose of schooling is set out in advance using the construction of written objectives and often also with associated content and even learning activities, which are then imposed on teachers for their delivery as technicians in the classroom. In England we are in need of Stenhouse's model for curriculum development after a long year period of imposed school curriculum within a context of over-assessment and a high risk threatening inspection regime.
Stenhouse's model is radical in two senses, firstly that it positions teachers as practitioner researchers and secondly because it offers an alternative to prescribed content heavy transmissive curriculum. Stenhouse argued that teachers need to be research-informed but also be involved in educational research. At the end of this book he concludes that research workers and teachers need to collaborate and states that 'communication is less effective than community in the utilization of knowledge'.
University of Cumbria
Defining the Curriculum Problem
The Content of Education
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