Pragmatics, politics and moral purpose: the quest for an authentic national curriculum

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate on the development of a national curriculum for Australia. The paper challenges stakeholders to interrogate the question of national curriculum, its purpose, values and potential for delivering the type of education Australia wants for its citizens in the twenty‐first century. Design/methodology/approach – The paper provides a general review of the literature, research and opinion associated with the politics, purpose, leadership and potential for change associated with national curriculum innovation. Findings – The national curriculum looms as the largest educational change in Australia's history and requires a thorough examination by stakeholders of the purposes and values underpinning it and how such a centralised curriculum can build the learning capacity of the nation. Authentic engagement of teachers, “buy in”, bottom‐up and top‐down strategies, extensive time for negotiations and the engagement of educational and political leaders are seen as important for community ownership of the product. Practical implications – The paper challenges political and educational leaders to conduct the national curriculum building dialogue at the local, state and national level and to open up previous “givens” to interrogation. It calls for a long‐term process to protect the authenticity and moral purpose of the process and maximise its ownership and potential for change. Originality/value – The paper addresses the greatest challenge yet to face Australian education, to deliver a national curriculum that delivers authentic learning for the future needs of Australians and Australia. It presents a case for stakeholders to engage the challenge through a professionally informed and morally defensible approach.

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Journal Article

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