ACSA Webinars
Curriculum Change and Opportunities

Lew Zipin, Senior Research Fellow, Education Futures, University of South Australia, SA, Australia, Extraordinary Professor, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Honorary Fellow, College of Education, Victoria University, VIC, Australia

Towards ethically focused curriculum: Activating knowledge around community-based problems that matter

Tuesday 5 April 2022 7-8pm AEST

Lew Zipin

Should students experience schools as spaces of divisive competition for access to unequally structured life-chances? Or should they work with peers to build knowledge capacities for sustainable and socially-just futures? I am posing an ethical question about what should motivate learning-and-teaching; and I see purposes of curriculum practice as central to address this question. I argue that curriculum finds ethical purpose when: (a) understood as knowledge activity (not content) primarily; (b) which connects school-subject knowledge to valued funds of knowledge in learners' community life-worlds; (c) to address problems that matter (PTMs) for sustainable social futures.
I will discuss an approach to curriculum units in which students identify community-based PTMs, then research them with intent - as citizens living these problems from the present into futures - to work with others on building knowledge-abilities to fathom and change problem contexts. Indeed, students would not fly solo in PTM curriculum units. They would collaborate with peers, people in their communities, teachers and academics who, in dialogue, share diverse experiences and knowledges relevant to redressing PTMs. They thus learn, teach and proact together, all apprenticing to the problem that gathers them, and their knowledges, to it.
Having been involved in projects along PTM lines, working with schools that draw students from marginalised social positions, I will note systemic forces operating on-and-in schools that thwart possibilities. Invoking what Australian educator Garth Boomer called 'pragmatic-radical' strategies to navigate systemic forces ethically, I will share-and-seek ideas with those attending this ACSA webinar.

Session complete. Recording available via ACSA Webinars on Demand.