Within the context of HE, and in extending its purpose, there is a need to understand who could cluster around and through the curriculum, and how the curriculum might be relocated or co-located across formal and informal boundaries. The assessment practices embedded within the curriculum often limit what learners are allowed, or able, to do with their own knowledge, as a socially-useful form of wealth.
Many forms of assessment result in the intellectual work of the learner remaining within the institution. The problem and challenge here is not simply one of allowing our learners to share their work more easily as an e-portfolio or personal domain. Instead, the question becomes for whom are our learners producing assessed work?
Moreover, are there alternative purposes for which they could be sharing the knowledge they create?
Returning to the implications of the academic as a public scholar Giroux, , there is a need to explore the idea of students as public scholars, able to contribute to public bodies of knowledge. Here the modularisation of assessment limits the individual and collective production of knowledge or artefacts that can then be applied across their own or other communities. The curriculum is critically limited by its narrow cultural definition. The dominant cultural context within which the curriculum has been devised acts as a critical limit. The Why is My Curriculum White?
With respect to how we develop more culturally inclusive curricula, both De Vita and Case and Welikala stress the critical need to look beyond internationalisation and cultural inclusion as something we do to the curriculum, and instead as factors that should enrich, shape and determine the curriculum and its activities. This position questions how the global challenges of a crisis of social reproduction are amplified by hegemonic curriculum positions. In the rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process.
This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions. Cormier, 3. In considering the curriculum as a conduit for education as a public good, this article proposes a strong need to reframe the current debate around open education, and open educational practice, so that it moves away from addressing almost exclusively open online education, and begins to challenge universities to make greater use of their physical spaces as open spaces for learning.
If education is a communal good, then universities have to be good and certainly much better than present at using both their physical and online spaces for wider engagement. The instantiation of the curricula within open online spaces and contexts may have widened access to education in some respects, but it has also served to amplify the role of social and intellectual capital in enabling access to HE.
This includes distancing the university from learners in the wider community who may be digitally excluded or disenfranchised. What might be taken from the bounded curriculum, as it is reproduced through the factors explored above, with respect to the crisis of sociability in HE? How might curricula be re-positioned and enacted? Principally, these factors are presented as the key limits on teaching and learning.
Individually and in combination they work to fragment the curriculum, and to constrain both its activities and student learning. Curriculum activities are commodified as learning objects, and student learning is commodified as learning outcomes. This commodification is a form of bounding that occurs within increasingly narrow knowledge domains, which are themselves framed by specific social, cultural and institutional limits.
These boundaries emerge from within the curriculum and are immanent to it, and they affect how academics and students organise and instantiate their work. It therefore fails to reflect the complexity of the wider world, and the concrete realities of socio-environmental and socio-economic crises, which in turn are realised as crises of social reproduction.
The curriculum is a form of crisis of legitimacy of the university, precisely because it limits the capacity of universities to respond to the needs of local and global contexts. From a critical perspective this leads us to question the relevance and legitimacy of the university. Is it possible for the curriculum to be engaged or for it to be a site of agency beyond the market? In recognising the current limitations and failings in how universities tend to conceptualise and enact the curriculum, this argument simultaneously recognises how the relevance and legitimacy of both the curriculum and the university may be re-imagined Harris et al.
The wider HE sector, taken here to be inclusive of informal and community-focused adult education, is beginning to reveal the development of alternative approaches to curriculum production and circulation. These are increasingly rooted in collective work, which centres individual activity in shared social needs and contexts, and is predicated on social action, participation and change. This is not to fetishise these spaces for curriculum production as beyond the hegemonic relations of production that dominate formal HE.
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Rather, it is to present alternative possibilities that are centred on the curriculum and political pedagogies. One such potential space is the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK, which forms a laboratory for co-operative production, consumption and distribution of higher learning, which is rooted in democratic organising principles governance for both the Centre and its activities, and its content for instance, childcare arrangements, curricula, events. This reconceptualises and reorganises the curriculum around research-engaged teaching, with students and academics co-operatively producing intellectual and creative works that have a resonance and relevance across scholarly communities.
It should be noted that the Social Science Centre attempts to dissolve the binary between student and staff so that the power relationships that exist in educational settings can be explored. This means that spaces like the Social Science Centre operate through co-operative governance practices, including consensus decision-making and peer production, and this underpins both management of the Centre and the design and delivery of its curricula.
Projects cannot be said to be teacher- or student-led. Whilst its curriculum activities, such as its Know-How course, might be represented inside some universities and through some courses, there are some scholars who do not wish to, or cannot, undertake such a course inside the university. Equally, the content and curriculum is co-negotiated and produced in a way that attempts to liberate what is bounded inside.
It is critical that the production, consumption and distribution of the curriculum circulates inside and through the organisation of the Social Science Centre and informs its governance. In re-imagining the idea of the university inside a new form of sociability, spaces of potential and possibility become central to rethinking and reliving the possibilities for transitional alternatives.
It is important to see these alternative forms as transitional and pedagogic, and not to be fetishised as academic philanthropy. Indeed, can it enable societies to confront global emergencies that have emerged from the dominance of that very cultural view of the world? The end point for the project is to enact forms of educational repair that are themselves forms of societal repair, because they use the curriculum as a point of departure for delegitimising specific forms of alienation rooted in ongoing historical and material racism.
As a result, the ongoing production of new collectives of students and staff opens up the possibility for counter-narratives, as witnessed in campaigns like Rhodes Must Fall in South Africa and the UK. The practical work of these anti-imperial and anti-colonial projects is rooted in militant research, which forces the university to confront how race and racism have shaped its activities.
Here the curriculum becomes a space for praxis, rooted in the legitimisation of a counter-narrative:. The curriculum is white because it reflects the underlying logic of colonialism, which believes the colonised do not own anything — not even their own experiences. Such a collective critique dismantles the organising principles of the curriculum, and asks both academics and students to question how their conceptualisations enable the reproduction of alienating and violent social relationships.
This potentially deconstructs the material, social wealth of the university, where it refuses the idea of HE as a positional, tradable good Amsler and Neary, Both projects have used the curriculum as a central reference point to explore the subsumption of cultures and identities by hegemonic positions.
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In the process of such revelation, a politics of educational autonomy pace Dinerstein, emerges as a form of potential pedagogic energy. Through a negative critique of the historical and material realities of the curriculum, alternative possibilities for future agency and autonomy are offered. These possibilities lie beyond the dominant, alienating view of HE governance and curricular practices, and instead point towards a curriculum that enables academic labour to become self-actualised. Such self-actualisation means that students and academics can reach beyond the law of value to address their lives as a form of humane and humanising, collective work.
In the process of humanising, the connections between anti-colonial narratives that refuse cultural subsumption and the negative critique of HE are refreshed.
Such questioning is a starting point for their wider, societal negation. It is possible to draw from these projects and initiatives a holistic view of what a liberated university curriculum, or curricula, might look like. At issue, then, is whether and how that can be reproduced inside the university, or whether it can only happen in less commodified spaces. In part this view is reinforced by the clearer differentiation between teacher and student that exists inside the university, and which maintains established power relationships.
This is not to say that spaces beyond the university are utopias, more that they offer the possibility of working on relations of power and relations of educational production, which do not exist inside the university. Given these restrictions, students and academics might then question whether a liberated curriculum is possible inside the university? If so, what might the unbounding of the curriculum within and from the university enable, in terms of responding to crises of sociability?
The ways in which the governance of HE might enable a curriculum as praxis, and which might then enable HE to engage with global crises of social reproduction are increasingly limited. They offer a more data-driven, quantifiable view of teaching and learning, thereby challenging how those activities are prioritised and incentivised.
This is a marketised re-imagining of the university revealed through the curriculum. They encapsulate a range of pedagogic, cultural and technological dimensions within which the curriculum as praxis is fragmented, limited, or prohibited. In particular, power relations surround socially just alternative curricula and pedagogy, just as they do standardised curricula. This highlights how both political and educational knowledge underpin the process of unbundling, in particular given the unequal distribution of knowledge in society. These spaces are focused on opening up the curriculum, whilst emphasising the production of horizontal power relations as a process that is constantly enabled through collective, educational work.
This is much less possible inside the university, where curriculum development and reform is processed through marginal and superficial change. This disables the ability to respond to crisis through the curriculum.
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Instead, quality processes enable the replication of current curriculum models, and amplify normative views of the curriculum, for example in the name of enterprise or employability. Whilst there is limited space inside the university to begin to address the development of the curriculum as praxis, we recognise that more research is needed both to engage with alternatives and to reveal and reproduce the everyday refusals of academics and students to neoliberalism.
Acts of refusal shape a counter-hegemonic narrative that asks who has power over a curriculum context shaped by learning gain and teaching excellence? It questions the nature of the curriculum as it is framed by learning outcomes or future earnings data, to reveal what is lost in this process of measuring.
It points toward the refusal of the quantified curriculum that amplifies certain forms of power, in order to transform education as a participatory, communal good. Moreover, it forces a reconsideration of the voices of those who are excluded. Traditional ways of thinking about the classroom stress the opposite paradigm—that the classroom is always the same even when students are different.
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