Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses
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ItemSocial ideologies in two sets of multicultural curricular materialsHampel, Bill ( 1980)The large increase in the non-British proportion of Australia's population since 1945 has created a demand for greater recognition in schools of cultural difference and a re-affirmation of the goal of equality of educational opportunity. Marxist theories of ideology, hegemony and the State are employed to examine whether 'multicultural' curricular materials which are ostensibly advocating a critical appraisal of the society and subscription to these pluralist goals, are not soliciting support for dominant ideologies. The thesis questions whether they are not acting to reproduce the social order to the detriment of the ethnic minorities they are purporting to serve. The first of the two sets of curricular materials examined, Ethnic Australia, develops a Eurocentric view of exploration and inter-ethnic relations favourable to the needs of .capitalist economic growth. Its criticism of prejudice is unrelenting, but it does not extend it to an adequate analysis of the social conditions which might have generated discrimination and conflict. In its presentation of Italian and Greek cultures, it highlights and reinforces those attitudes and behaviours which are most conducive to an acceptance of competitive individualism under capitalism. The materials entitled Australia : A Multicultural Society, show the benefit of widespread consultation with educators and ethnic groups. They offer a view of culture and a picture of the material circumstances of Greeks and other migrants in Australia which accords with the most recent and carefully conducted research. In delivering a sustained attack on the inadequate provision for migrants in this country, they expose children' to a variety of ideological perspectives gleaned from the media, ethnic communities and the peer culture. Reservations are expressed about the capacity of materials with a liberal reformist ideology to develop in school students a critical awareness of the more intractable social structural barriers to the achievement of social equality and acceptance of cultural difference. Finally, there is brief discussion of the problems of construction and dissemination of critical curricular materials in a publicly funded educational system.
ItemThe public examination of English in Victoria : a study of one external influence on the secondary school English curriculumHamerston, Michael T. ( 1980)The secondary school English curriculum was determined by groups outside schools during the period 1944-1974. External domination of teaching content and methodology was ensured by a system of Public and Matriculation Examinations which empowered agents of the universities to prescribe courses and to assess students' performance in those courses. The University of Melbourne exercised these functions through its Professorial Board and the Schools Board before relinquishing its powers to the Victorian Universities and Schools Examination Board in 1965. Statute and tradition allowed these bodies to establish themselves as a centre apart from schools, and to legitimise their authority through the institutionalised processes of prescription, examination and review of performance. The effect of these processes was to subordinate schools, teachers and pupils. There was immense inertia in the Victorian system of external prescription and examination. Courses and examination papers remained essentially unmodified for long periods. Significant development in the conception and content of English courses occurred, effectively, only at Year 12 in response to social and educational pressures which had previously led to the withdrawal of Public Intermediate and Leaving Examinations. Broadening the goals of H.S.C. English did not, however, signal diminished control over curriculum from the centre. The fact of competitive examinations at the end of secondary schooling continued to shape content and methodology in the earlier years. Competitive examinations engendered in schools, teachers and pupils a narrow conformity, the results of which can most clearly be seen in the failure of the Class A system to produce school-based curriculum initiatives of any substance. The effect of external prescription and examination of English courses was profound. Relationships between teachers and pupils were strongly mediated by the system, reducing the autonomy of both by subjugating their intentions to the instrumental demands of evaluation. So much of a student's 'life chance' depended upon examination success that teachers and taught were continually constrained to focus their attention on the tasks expected in examinations. Fragmentation, in line with the different sections of examination papers, rather than integration became, therefore, the organising principle for teaching aimed at developing those techniques believed to be essential for success in the examination game. External examinations dictated that the English classroom was a place where pupils met to prepare for their encounters with examinations rather than to explore the nature and richness of experience through literature and their own use of language for real ends. The system of Public and Matriculation Examinations established in 1944 was a potent influence on the secondary school English curriculum. The system rested upon a powerful, conservative centre whose legitimacy was so thoroughly entrenched that it was able to admit reform only on its own terms. Thus, it was possible after twenty-five years of relative stasis to negotiate evolution in the details of the school English curriculum without alteration to the essential power relationships. After thirty years, English teachers were still without autonomy. Year 12 English courses continued to exert the pressures and to exact the dependence which had constrained mother tongue studies throughout secondary schools since 1944.
ItemSenior school chemistry in Victoria: syllabus prescription and pressure for changeBlance, Annette Rose ( 1984)A few key ideas have dominated the senior school chemistry syllabuses in Victoria. Despite pressures for change, and disclaimers to the contrary at various times, the Victorian course developers have shown a constant commitment to chemistry as an academic discipline, to the exclusion of most if not all of the societal, cultural, historical and economic aspects of the subject. In this thesis, an understanding of present courses in terms of past practice has been sought through a study of the ideas which have influenced syllabus design at various times. Some purchase on the exercise of change in school syllabuses, on the possibilities and limits to change, was obtained, although no prediction of future directions could be attempted. At the outset a decision was taken to concentrate the investigation on materials published principally for the direction of teachers whose task it was to prepare their classes for an externally set and assessed examination in chemistry. Thus, in this thesis, attention has focussed on the expressed intentions of the course developers in Victoria, as outlined in syllabuses, Course of Study and Scope of Course statements, and commentary in Circulars to Schools. Data extracted from these documents was supplemented with material from the recommended textbooks and Reports of Examiners. The former provided an extended coverage of material prescribed in the syllabuses, offering more insight into teaching sequence and depth than could, at this remove, be fairly inferred from syllabus documents alone. Commentary in the Reports of Examiners revealed more of the expectations of examiners and course developers than was apparent from the syllabuses alone. The correctives suggested by the examiners for a range of perceived shortcomings gave an indication of what was seen at various times as appropriate in schools courses. The examination papers themselves were not analyzed except for a few specific items. Although examinations have without doubt served to direct and limit teaching practice, this has not been their primary function. Selection of content, and methods of teaching specific items of content, and trends in course changes, were compared with contemporary practice in England and the United States. Chemistry method textbooks proved useful here as those available were spread approximately evenly across the whole of the period of the survey. Journal articles, except for those few which reported historical material, tended to be concentrated in the latter quarter of the century, 1955 to 1980, thus affording a much better coverage of ideas extant during that period than was the case for the earlier years. The syllabus in action, in terms of classroom practice, facilities and management, was not considered as part of this study. These factors assumed significance only in so far as they imposed limitations on the course developers. Those decisions taken revealed, in the syllabus but more so in commentary documents, the rationalization of an idealized conception of the discipline of chemistry into a form fit for school use. The view taken in this thesis was neither strictly historical nor chronological. No attempt was made to fully document the development of chemistry as a school level subject in this state. Past practice, and current overseas practice, were used rather to construct a context in which the most recent course changes in Victoria could be explained. In commenting on syllabus change, it has proved easier to identify past shortcomings than to point to a direction for the future. Trends, even though well established, can be and have been reversed. An aim shared by course developers in different countries is susceptible to quite disparate interpretations, resulting in courses with little in common. Further, as this research has been limited to publicly expressed intentions in official documents, it allowed only indirect reflection on purposes and reasons for decisions. A study complementary to this thesis in which particular periods were dealt with in greater detail, could examine the hopes and frustrations of those individuals who assumed the responsibility for the development of school level chemistry courses in Victoria. From both sorts of consideration of the studies a society chooses to impose on its children, some insight into the nature of that society and its culture could be gained.