What Should Schools Teach?

Disciplines, subjects and the pursuit of truth

Edited by Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Alex Standish

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ISBN: 9781787358751

Publication: January 07, 2021

Series: Knowledge and the Curriculum

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The design of school curriculums involves deep thought about the nature of knowledge and its value to learners and society. It is a serious responsibility that raises a number of questions. What is knowledge for? What knowledge is important for children to learn? How do we decide what knowledge matters in each school subject? And how far should the knowledge we teach in school be related to academic disciplinary knowledge? These and many other questions are taken up in What Should Schools Teach?

The blurring of distinctions between pedagogy and curriculum, and between experience and knowledge, has served up a confusing message for teachers about the part that each plays in the education of children. Schools teach through subjects, but there is little consensus about what constitutes a subject and what they are for. This book aims to dispel confusion through a robust rationale for what schools should teach that offers key understanding to teachers of the relationship between knowledge (what to teach) and their own pedagogy (how to teach), and how both need to be informed by values of intellectual freedom and autonomy.

This second edition includes new chapters on Art, Chemistry, Drama, Music and Religious Education, and an updated chapter on Biology. A revised introduction reflects on emerging discourse around decolonising the curriculum, and on the relationship between the knowledge that children encounter at school and in their homes. 

Alka Sehgal Cuthbert has spent more than 20 years as an English teacher at secondary level, and lecturer in Cultural Studies in higher education. Alex Standish is Senior Lecturer in Geography Education at the UCL Institute of Education and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

List of figures
Notes on contributors
Foreword by Tim Oates

1 Disciplinary knowledge and its role in school curricula, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
2 School subjects, Alex Standish
3 English Literature, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
4 Art, Dido Powell
5 Drama, Martin Robinson
6 Music, Simon Toyne
7 Modern Foreign Languages, Shirley Lawes
8 Geography, Alex Standish
9 History, Christine Counsell
10 Religious Education, Rania Hafez
11 Biology, Fredrik Berglund and Michael J Reiss
12 Chemistry, Gareth Bates
13 Physics, Gareth Sturdy
14 Mathematics, Cosette Crisan


Format: Paperback

Edition: 2nd edition

Size: 234 × 156 mm

270 Pages

B&W line drawings, colour photo/halftones, and line drawings

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781787358751

Publication: January 07, 2021

Series: Knowledge and the Curriculum

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