1st Edition

The Politics of Curriculum Change

By Tony Becher, Stuart Maclure Copyright 1978
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    Curriculum development occupied an increasingly important place on the educational scene in the mid 1960’s, foreshadowing much of the national debate initiated by the Prime Minister of Britain in late 1976. The agencies for development take different forms in different countries, but the underlying issues are remarkably similar across the globe. It is the basic framework common to all planned curriculum change which The Politics of Curriculum Change (originally published in 1978) is concerned to bring into sharper focus.

    A major consideration in embarking on or analysing any curriculum programme is the extent to which it reflects public concerns about education. The notion of the ‘public curriculum’ is a central strand in the authors’ argument. It leads naturally into a discussion of mechanisms for control and development, and the political acceptability of new proposals to teachers, parents, pupils, and the public at large. But curriculum change has its internal, as well as its external politics. These are reflected in the contrasting styles of development, varied forms of evaluation, and in the conflicting response of the profession, both to change of the curriculum as a whole, and to a piecemeal subject-by-subject approach. The authors give these working aspects of curriculum development as careful attention as they afford to the larger issues of schooling in society.

    All in all, this book offers a view which has not hitherto been clearly articulated, but which is essential to understanding what curriculum development is all about. Its authors are in a good position to do this: one had a particularly close involvement with the external, and the other with the internal politics of development, and they previously worked together on an international study of curriculum.

    1. The curriculum and its development 2. A European perspective 3. Patterns of control 4. Agents of change 5. Subject-based development 6. System-based development 7. Fragmentation and integration 8. Responsiveness to change 9. Evaluating curriculum innovation 10. The politics of acceptability 11. The dynamics of the public curriculum


    Tony Becher was a key figure in British higher education research.

    Stuart Maclure was a journalist who began his career with The Times and later became a reporter on the TES. He wrote and edited several books, some during the 1980s strikes that affected Murdoch-owned newspapers. He is the author of Educational Documents: England and Wales, 1816–1963.