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Class and curriculum development by Ian Duckett


Curriculum development has, for me, always been concerned with three interwoven strands: the development of skills, knowledge and general education/enrichment with entitlement as its strong backbone. In this attempt at what is essentially a pedagogical history and historical pedagogy of the significance of skills over the past 40 years.

When I use the term skills I am referring to the various incarnations of government sponsored generic skills initiatives from common skills to core skills to skills, the dabbling in essential skills and, most recently functional skills as they relate to mostly a narrow vocational curriculum but at a times a broader and more meaningful wider curriculum that has attended to cross the academic/vocational divide and generate a genuine learning curriculum.

In short, these can be termed working class skills and have been narrowed, undervalued and down graded by the ruling class. While skills like problem-solving, teamwork, study skills communication have a crucial role to play in post-16 education I agree with the argument that the notion of either a knowledge-free curriculum or of a content free pedagogy is a manifest absurdity.

As the basic skills only model of skills development still seems to be winning again over a fuller, more developmental version of skills comprising improving own learning, working with others and problem -solving, the need for a core module on ‘learning to learn’ is as important as ever.

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Ragged University is in partnership with the Working Class Academics conference sharing its ideals and love of open intellectual spaces

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