Critiquing Curriculum Policy Reform in Finland and Australia: A Non-affirmative, and Praxis-oriented Approach

Ian Hardy, Michael Uljens

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This paperdraws upon key national curriculum policy documents as evidence of reform inFinland and Australia to analyze whether and how they appear to provide theopportunity for a genuinely educational experience for students, orientedtowards the good for all, or whether they reflect more restrictive,‘predetermined’ influences and foci. Specifically, we focus upon the aims,content and methods advocated within the principal curriculum policy documentsin each context, and analyze the extent to which they seem to allow for teacherand school autonomy, and a more praxis-oriented approach, or whether theyreflect more directive, and performative policy foci. To analyze the extent towhich such autonomy is evident, we draw upon the German educationalist DietrichBenner’s notion of ‘non-affirmative’ education as an analytical concept, and toanalyze whether a more praxis-oriented approach is evident, we draw uponneo-Aristotelian notions of practice as praxis. Through a comparative analysisof the Finnish and Australian curriculum policy circumstances, we argue howmore neoliberal influences have influenced both countries, but also how theFinnish context seems to provide the opportunity for a more open,‘non-affirmative’ approach to the aims, content and methods of curriculumreform, while the Australian context is potentially more restrictive in thisregard, even as there is evidence of some support for such approaches. Thearticle reveals the power of a comparative approach, and how the broaderconditions within which curriculum policy development unfolds, includingassessment practices, influence the nature of the content of curriculum policy,with potentially significant effects for curriculum reform enactment.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalTransnational Curriculum Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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