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The Australian curriculum: History – the challenges of a thin curriculum?

Ditchburn, G. (2015) The Australian curriculum: History – the challenges of a thin curriculum? Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36 (1). pp. 27-41.

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The Australian Curriculum: History has emerged out of a neoliberal federal education policy landscape. This is a policy landscape where pragmatic and performative, rather than pedagogic concerns are clearly foregrounded, and this has implications for curriculum development and implementation. A useful way to conceptualise the features, assumptions and potentialities of the Australian Curriculum: History that has been produced from these policy imperatives is through a framework provided by the descriptors, ‘thin’ and ‘thick’. A thin curriculum is one that essentially equates curriculum with a product, and where the prescribed content is central to understanding what a curriculum is. A thick curriculum, on the other hand, is one where the curriculum is understood as a verb, where the details of content are secondary to an exploration of bigger questions and concepts, and where curriculum theory is the starting point for the selection of content. The use of ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ as the ends of a continuum of curriculum provides insights into the purposes of a curriculum. Ultimately, such a dichotomy exposes assumptions about what is important knowledge and who is in control of the curriculum. This paper focuses on how the Australian Curriculum: History as an example of a ‘thin’ curriculum, presents a number of challenges.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
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