SABARISH

Friday, 21 August 2015

Unit I - UNDERSTANDING DISCIPLINES AND SUBJECTS- B.Ed. Notes

Unit I - UNDERSTANDING DISCIPLINES AND SUBJECTS

Prepared by
SABARISH-P
M.Sc., M.Ed., JRF & NET
Assistant Professor in Physical Science, Arafa Institute for Teacher Education
Attur, Thrissur.

School subjects and academic disciplines-Meaning, definitions and differences

Ø  School Subjects-Meaning

·         A school subject is an area of learning within the school curriculum that constitutes an institutionally defined field of knowledge and practice for teaching and learning.
·         School subjects can be traditional academic subjects, such as mathematics, history, geography, physics, chemistry and economics.
·         Newly there are some unconventional school subjects like tourism and hospitality.
·         Academic school subjects, such as mathematics, chemistry, geography, history, and economics, are to be compulsorily taught to the students.
·         The content of these academic subjects need to be worked with and transformed by the teachers in such a way that it is appropriate for classroom teaching.
·         Constructing a school subject involves the selection and arrangement of content of knowledge, skills and the transformation of that content for school and classroom use.
·         Constructing a school subject is in accordance with respect to both the societal expectations and the activities of teaching.
·         Thus, a school subject is the result of institutional selection, organization, and framing content for social, economic, cultural, curricular and pedagogic purposes.
·         A school subject constitutes an organizing framework that gives meaning and shape to curriculum content, teaching, and learning activities.
·         School subjects are distinctive, purpose-built enterprises, constructed in response to different social, cultural, and political demands and challenges, and towards educational aims.
·         Thus a school subject contains content, and translating content for educational purposes.
Ø  Academic disciplines-Meaning
·         The term ‘discipline’ originates from the Latin words discipulus, which means pupil, and disciplina, which means teaching (noun).
·         Academic discipline is a field or branch of learning affiliated with an academic department of a university, formulated for the advancement of research and scholarship.
·         Academic discipline is formulated for the professional training of researchers, academics and specialists.
·         An academic discipline or ‘field of study’ is a branch of knowledge that is taught and researched as part of higher education.
·         Examples for Academic Disciplines are Anthropology, Space Science, psychology, sociology, archeology, Education etc.
Ø  School Subjects-Definition

·         A school subject constitutes an organizing framework that gives meaning and shape to curriculum content, teaching, and learning activities (Karmon, 2007)
·         School Subjects is defined as an “area of knowledge that is studied in school”.-Britannica Encyclopaedia.
·         “A school subject is an area of learning within the school curriculum that constitutes an institutionally defined field of knowledge and practice for teaching and learning.”- Deng, Z (2013)
·         School subjects are human constructions in response to social, economic, cultural, political, and educational realities and needs. They are “uniquely purpose built educational enterprises, designed with and through educational imagination towards educative ends” (Deng & Luke, 2008, p. 83).
Ø  Academic disciplines - Definition
·         “An academic discipline or field of study is a branch of knowledge that is taught and researched as part of higher education”. - Anthony Biglan
·         “Academic discipline is a field or branch of learning affiliated with an academic department of a university, formulated for the advancement of research and scholarship. It is formulated for the professional training of researchers, academics and specialists.”- Deng, Z (2013)
·         An academic discipline is a branch of learning or scholarly investigation that provides a structure for the students’ (program of study,) especially in the graduate and post-graduate levels.
·         A branch of knowledge or learning which is taught or researched at the college or university level.-Glosbe
Ø  School subjects and academic disciplines – differences

·         School subjects can be traditional academic subjects, such as mathematics, history, geography, chemistry and economics that have direct relation with their parent academic disciplines.
·         Some unconventional school subjects like tourism and hospitality have minimal connections with academic disciplines.
·         A school subject constitutes an organizing framework that gives meaning and shape to curriculum content, teaching, and learning activities.
·         School subjects are distinctive, purpose-built enterprises, constructed in response to different social, cultural, and political demands and challenges, and towards educational aims.
·         The formation of a school subject entails a theory of content - a special way of selecting, framing, and translating content for educational purposes.
·         Academic discipline is a field or branch of learning affiliated with an academic department of a university, formulated for the advancement of research and scholarship.
·         Academic discipline is formulated for the professional training of researchers, academics and specialists.
·         A fundamental conceptual distinction between school subjects and academic disciplines is crucial for a proper understanding of curriculum development and pedagogical practice.
·         The distinction between school subjects and academic disciplines has not received sufficient attention from policymakers, researchers, and educators.
Ø  Aims of Schooling: Competing Curricular Ideologies (Existing Curricular ideas)


·         Over the last century schooling has been asked to serve four different aims that are reflected in four curricular ideologies
1)      Academic rationalism: Primary function of schooling is intellectual development through initiating students into specific bodies of knowledge, techniques, and ways of knowing embedded in academic disciplines.
2)      Humanism:  The central goal of schooling in terms of fostering students’ potential, personal freedom, self-actualization, and all round development.
3)      Social efficiency: The central purpose of schooling is to meet the current and future manpower needs of a society by training youth to become contributing members of society.
4)      Social reconstructionism: Schooling is primarily an instrument for solving social problems (inequalities, injustice, poverty, etc.) and cause social reform and reconstruction.

Ø  Aims of Schooling: Recent Discourses (New ideas/alternatives)
In the 21st century three curricular discourses, autonomous learners, participatory
citizenship, and globalization, have become rather influential in the debates.
These discourses argue that contemporary schooling should allow individual learners to construct their own knowledge base and competences. It should prepare young people for their future role as active, responsible, and productive citizens in a democratic society. Furthermore, schools are expected to be instrumental in equipping individuals for the challenges created by economic and cultural globalization. These ideas have been employed by governments across the globe as the reasons for changing curriculum content.
The above diverse aims and expectations of schooling entail different implications for how school subjects should relate to academic disciplines.
Ø  Relationship between school subjects and academic disciplines
(Three Juxtapositions –continuous, discontinuous, and related.)
           
·         School subjects can have different and variable relationships to academic disciplines, depending on their aims, contents, and developmental phases.
·         There are three broad comparisons/contrasts (associations) between school subjects and academic disciplines:
(1) School subjects and academic disciplines are essentially continuous.
(2) School subjects and academic disciplines are basically discontinuous.
(3) School subjects and academic disciplines are different but related.
·         Each of the associations,  ie Juxtapositions implies a particular curricular position concerning how school subjects are constructed with respect to academic disciplines.
(1) School subjects and academic disciplines are essentially continuous.
·         The continuous position shows the importance of transmitting disciplinary knowledge for the development of the intellectual capacity of students and for the maintenance or reproduction of academic culture/knowledge.
·         This is called the doctrine of disciplinarity, according to which school subjects are derived from and organised according to the structure of academic disciplines.
·         The central purpose of a school subject, like that of a discipline, is to initiate the young into the academic community of scholars.
·         School subjects, therefore, are supposed to derive their life, from their related intellectual disciplines.
·         School subjects constitute a faithful and valid introduction to the academic disciplines whose names they bear.
·         Students are dealing with relatively simple ideas and methods, they study the same ideas and methods known by experts in the academic disciplines.
·         In this Disciplinarity is alive.
·         The exclusive reliance of the curricular position on academic disciplines in defining school subjects leaves out other kinds of knowledge (e.g., practical knowledge, technical knowledge, local community knowledge, etc.) that could be potential curriculum content.
·         Curriculum development framed by this curricular position ignores the interests, attitudes, and feelings of learners. Furthermore, this curricular position shows little concern about meeting social, economic, and political needs, and is silent on issues about social reform and reconstruction.
·         The world of knowledge, the needs of learners, and the needs and demands of society are three essential factors that determine and shape curriculum content and set school subjects apart from academic disciplines.
(2) School subjects and academic disciplines are basically discontinuous.
·         In this curricular position school subjects and academic disciplines are essentially discontinuous in purpose and substance. Hence, school subjects are allowed for construction, which could get beyond the narrow academic or disciplinary concern.
·         The discontinuous position finds support in humanism, social efficiency, and social reconstructions.
·         Humanist educators argue that school subjects are created to provide students with rewarding experiences that contribute to personal growth and individual freedom. School subjects, therefore, need to be formulated according to the interest, attitudes, and developmental stages of individual students. They need to derive content from a wide range of sources – such as personal experiences, human activities and community cultures and wisdoms. Disciplinary knowledge may or may not be useful for the formation of school subjects.
·         From the perspective of social efficiency, school subjects are constructed for the primary purpose of maintaining and enhancing economic and social productivity by equipping future citizens with the requisite knowledge, skills, and capital.
·         The formation of school subjects, therefore, is justified with close reference to the needs of occupation, profession, and vocation.
·         Therefore, specialised and applied fields like engineering, accounting, and marketing, among others, are the primary sources from which the contents of school subjects are derived.
·         Academic disciplines are drawn upon only when they demonstrate their efficacy in promoting those skills and knowledge actually needed in occupations.
·         School subjects are created to provide students with meaningful learning experiences that might lead to liberation and cause social activity.
·         The formation of school subjects is based upon an examination of social contexts, social issues, and futures, with the intention of helping individuals reconstruct their own, standpoints, and actions.
·         Like humanistic educators, social reconstructionists believe that school subjects derive contents from a wide range of sources. Contemporary curricular views like autonomous learners, participatory citizenship and globalisation further set school subjects apart from academic disciplines.
·         The curricular discourses call for a learner-oriented approach to the construction of a school subject that allows learners to construct their own knowledge according to their individual needs and interests.
·         The curricular discourses require the school subject to be formulated in ways that help students cultivate certain kinds of sensitivity, disposition and awareness needed for responsible participation in society.
·         The school subjects equip students with general skills and lifelong learning abilities, essential for facing the challenges of globalisation and the knowledge-based economy.
(3) School subjects and academic disciplines are different but related.
·         This third assumption demonstrates that the relationship between school subjects and academic disciplines can exist in one of the three ways:
(a) that academic disciplines precede school subjects,
(b) that school subjects precede academic disciplines, or
(c) that the relation between the subjects and disciplines is conflicting.
The first way holds that a school subject results from the transformation of an academic discipline.
The second way reflects that parallels exist between the stages in the development of disciplinary knowledge and the stages through which the individual passes on the way to maturity, and therefore, school subjects are formulated to reflect those parallels.
The third way can be viewed as a combination of the first and the second ways, where an academic discipline provides the endpoint for the formation of a school subject and the school subject provides for getting to know the academic discipline.
Ø  Formation of School subjects

The formation of a school subject, involves three levels of curriculum making; the societal, the programmatic, and the classroom.
The societal curriculum, also called the ideal or abstract curriculum, includes a conception of what schooling should be with respect to the society and culture. Curriculum making at this level is characterized by ideologies and discourses on curriculum policy according to schooling, culture, and society.
The programmatic curriculum, or the technical or official curriculum, is contained in curriculum documents (e.g., syllabus) and materials for use in schools and classrooms. Curriculum making at this level translates the societal curriculum into school subjects, programs, or courses of study provided to a school or system of schools. The process of constructing a school subject or a course of study entails the selection and arrangement of content (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) and the transformation of that content for school and classroom use.
The classroom curriculum – i.e., the enacted curriculum – is characterized by a cluster of events jointly developed by a teacher and a group of students within a particular instructional context. Curriculum making at this level involves transforming the programmatic curriculum embodied in curriculum documents and materials into “educative” experiences for students.
The societal and programmatic curricula together form the institutional curriculum.
 Thus, a school subject is formed as the result of institutional selection, organization, and framing content for social, economic, cultural, curricular, and pedagogical purposes. Many important decisions concerning content are therefore made prior to the actual instructional activities and the content actually taught in the classroom, are independent in many respects from classroom teachers.
Ø  Content of school subjects.
·         It is increasingly recognised that for teachers to know a school subject they must know the ‘theory of content’how the content was selected, framed in the syllabus, and how it can be transformed so that learners construct their own knowledge through it.
·         The inclusion or exclusion of a subject area from the school curriculum too has a social history.
Distinctive school subjects are built for specific purposes and are constructed in accordance with the prevailing social, cultural and political circumstances. The content of academic subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, geography, history, and economics are to be transformed by the teachers in way conducive for classroom teaching.
The contents of a school subject primarily comprise of the arrangement of age-appropriate information in an orderly manner, so as to fulfill the educational needs of a student. A school subject is constituted with a consideration of the societal expectations and the teaching activities. A school subject is formed with a “theory of content” aimed solely for educational purposes.
School subjects are formed according to the needs of occupation, profession, and vocation. Therefore, specialised and applied fields like engineering, accounting, and marketing, among others, are the primary sources from which the contents of school subjects are derived.
Many important and independent decisions concerning the contents of school subjects are made prior to the execution of instructional activities.
Teachers and students play a vital role as they have the potential to improve the contents of a subject by working in it for developing the instructional background. The educative experiences of teachers and students contribute to a large extent in transforming a school subject.
Thus it can be established that institutional selection and organisational content form the backdrop of a school subject and the contents are determined by the social, economic, cultural, curricular and pedagogic necessities.
Ø  Why study school subjects ?

·        In many parts of the world traditional school curriculum is being replaced by progressive types. By studying about school subjects we can see that school subjects are essentially social and political constructions.
·        School subjects have connection with social structure; social relations and they have contributed in the process of cultural transmission too. Now it is being recognized that school subjects are important sources for studying about the society and problems in it.
·        Recent researches offers that national and local proponents of subject change face a world culture of school subjects.
·        The national curriculum has reflected a new movement to reconstitute the school subjects first launched in the world movement of 1890 to 1910 periods.
·        Studying school subjects is necessary to investigate the link between school subject knowledge and classroom pedagogy.
·        School subjects are now being considered as cultural and historical phenomenon so it is necessary to study about them.
·        One of the important reasons for studying school subjects is that they provide a clear picture of school knowledge and practices.
·        Studying school subjects thus entails an understanding of the “theory of content” that is crucial for disclosing the educational potential embodied in the content.
·        School subjects are aimed to maintain the academic culture and develop the intellectual capacity of students. School subjects are constructed for the primary purpose of maintaining and enhancing economic and social productivity by equipping future citizens with the requisite knowledge, skills, and capital.
·        School subjects are created to provide students with meaningful learning experiences that might lead to liberation and cause social activity.
·        School subjects are allowed for construction and further provide students with rewarding experiences that contribute to their intellectual growth. The school curriculum encourages a learner-oriented approach to construct a school subject that allows students to learn according to their needs and interests in their chosen fields of study. The school subjects equip the students with general skills and learning abilities, essential for facing the challenges of globalisation and the knowledge-based economy.
·        The school subjects pave the way for students to broaden their perspectives, enhance their social awareness, develop positive attitudes and values, and foster problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Thus, studying school subjects stands to offer a wide horizon for students to create and explore create new corridors leading to enlightenment.
·        It is increasingly recognised that for teachers to know a school subject they must know the ‘theory of content’how the content was selected, framed in the syllabus, and how it can be transformed so that learners construct their own knowledge through it.
·        The inclusion or exclusion of a subject area from the school curriculum too has a social history.
·         Studying school subjects helps us to analyses how school subjects are influenced by the society, culture and values of a nation.
 Ø  Why "subjects" are included in school syllabus ?
To develop basic skills like reading ,writing and arithmetic 
To enhance students’ understanding of  their society, their nation, the human world and the physical environment..
To help students become independent thinkers so that they can construct knowledge appropriate to changing personal and social circumstances.
To develop in students a range of skills for life-long learning, including critical thinking skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and information technology skills.
To help students develop positive values and attitude towards life, so that they can become informed and responsible citizens of society, the country and the world.
To provide all round development of the child and to attain the objectives of Education.

Ø Why studying school subjects?
School subjects are aimed to maintain the academic culture and develop the intellectual capacity of students. School subjects are constructed for the primary purpose of maintaining and enhancing economic and social productivity by equipping future citizens with the requisite knowledge, skills, and capital. School subjects are created to provide students with meaningful learning experiences that might lead to liberation and cause social activity.
School subjects are allowed for construction and further provide students with rewarding experiences that contribute to their intellectual growth.The school curriculum encourages a learner-oriented approach to construct a school subject that allows students to learn according to their needs and interests in their chosen fields of study.The school subjects equip the students with general skills and learning abilities, essential for facing the challenges of globalisation and the knowledge-based economy.
The school subjects pave the way for students to broaden their perspectives, enhance their social awareness, develop positive attitudes and values, and foster problem-solving and critical thinking skills.Thus, studying school subjects stands to offer a wide horizon for students to create and explore create new corridors leading to enlightenment.

                                                           




Ø    “Content” of school subjects- Why study school subjects ? (for student teachers)
                                                                                                                                                     
(Note: For deep level of Understanding Only. 
B.Ed. syllabus does not  have scope for the matter discussing given below. However the students can go through it to understand the essence of the area )

·         It is increasingly recognised that for teachers to know a school subject they must know the ‘theory of content’how the content was selected, framed in the syllabus, and how it can be transformed so that learners construct their own knowledge through it.
·         The inclusion or exclusion of a subject area from the school curriculum too has a social history.
·         Teachers need to have three kinds of subject matter knowledge: content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and curricular knowledge.
·         Content knowledge includes knowledge of the substance and structure of the academic discipline.
·         Pedagogical content knowledge involves an understanding of pedagogical representations and instructional strategies, and of students’ pre-conceptions with respect to particular curriculum topics at particular grade levels. By pedagogical content knowledge, the teacher transforms his or her disciplinary content into forms that are powerful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by students.
·         Curricular knowledge involves an understanding of the curriculum and the instructional materials available for teaching a subject at various grade levels, which can be an aid to the transformation process. Two assumptions underly the framework of curricular knowledge: (1) that school subjects and academic disciplines are essentially continuous in substance and practice; and (2) that classroom teachers necessarily work with and transform the content of an academic discipline into the content of a school subject.
·         Reliance on the academic discipline as an essential frame of reference for defining teachers’ specialised understanding of content tends to overlook what is involved in knowing the content of a school subject for teaching.
·         Teachers do need basic knowledge of related academic disciplines, but knowing the content of a school subject lies at the heart of their professional understanding.
·         School subjects, constitute the locus of classroom teaching; they frame classroom teachers’ practice and perspectives on curriculum and instruction.
·         Knowing the content of a school subject involves knowing how the content is selected, formulated, framed, and transformed in ways that render meaningful and educative experiences for students.
·         The knowledge of the content of a school subject is crucial for disclosing the educational potential inherent in the content.
·         As example, it is possible to look at knowing the content of a secondary school science subjects like physics, chemistry and biology and knowing the content of liberal studies (an additional course in arts subjects taken by students studying for a qualification in science, technology, or the humanities.). Knowing the content of a secondary school science subject involves knowing five intersecting aspects;
1)      logical (body of concepts and principles in the school curriculum),
2)      epistemological (concerning how we know these concepts and principles and how they come to reach their present refined form),
3)      psychological (concerning how the concepts and principles to be taught can be developed out of the interest, experience, and prior knowledge of students),
4)      pedagogical (concerning the effective ways of representing and reformulating the concepts and principles)
5)      socio-cultural (concerning how knowledge relates to and interacts with society, technology, and culture).
·         The teacher needs to know how the logical can be formulated and transformed on the epistemological, psychological, pedagogical, and socio-cultural planes, to render meaningful and educative experiences to students. Teacher’s knowledge on the content of liberal studies entails knowing how content can be organised, framed, and transformed into learning experiences to broaden students’ perspectives, enhance their social awareness, develop positive attitudes and values, and foster problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
·         With respect to liberal studies, four aspects are essential for knowing the content: namely inquiry framing, socio-cultural framing, psycho-epistemological framing and pedagogic translation.
·         Inquiry framing is the content made for cross-curricular and issue-based inquiry.
·         Socio-cultural framing is the content prepared with reference to socio-cultural contexts.
·         Psycho-epistemological framing is defining the content with reference to the curricular or knowledge context of students.
·         Pedagogic translation is translating the content into teaching and learning activities and selecting instructional resources.
Each of these aspects can be characterised by a set of probing questions.
Inquiry Framing - What are the themes and key issues pertaining to the module? What are the key concepts that underlie each of the themes? How are these concepts related to the concepts in other modules? What are the related issues for exploration?
Socio-cultural Framing - What significance do the key issues and related issues have for students, the society and the world? How might these issues arise from various socio-cultural contexts? What different perspectives can be brought to bear on addressing these issues? What kinds of critical thinking can be encouraged? What attitudes and values are worthy of cultivation?
Psycho-epistemological Framing - What prerequisite knowledge and skills are needed for learning the issues and concepts? How might the key issues and concepts connect with what students learn in other school subjects or from other learning experiences in the curriculum? What have students already known and experienced in relation to these issues and concepts? How might their existing knowledge and experience be drawn upon for learning the issues and concepts?
Pedagogic Translation - On the basis of the above considerations, what could be teaching and learning activities like group discussion, debate, role-play, project work, and independent inquiry, that could broaden students’ perspectives and provide them with opportunities for problem-solving, independent learning, and cross-curricular and critical thinking? What resources could be employed for achieving the instructional purposes? What tools are most useful for assessing student learning? How could the results of assessment be used to inform instruction?
·         Asking these questions allows teachers to interpret and reinvent the meanings of the content of a particular module in specific instructional contexts.
·         Teachers assume the role of curriculum developer at the school or classroom level.
·         Knowing the content and studying school subjects thus entails an understanding of the theory of content that is crucial for disclosing the educational potential embodied in the content.



References
1)      Deng, Z (2013), School subjects and academic disciplines. In A Luke, A woods & K weir (Eds.), Curriculum, Syllabus design and equity: A primer and model. Routledge
2)      Ivor F. Goodson and Colin J. Marsh, Studying school subjects, A guide (1996), Routledge


Expected questions
1)      Define academic disciplines/school subjects.
2)      What do you meant by academic disciplines/school subject?
3)      What is the difference between academic discipline and school subject?
4)      Explain the relationship between school subjects and academic disciplines.
5)      What do you meant by ‘theory of content’ ?
6)      Explain the concept of Content of school subjects.?
7)      How can a teacher know the content of school subjects?
8)      Show the importance of studying school subjects.?
9)      Why studying school subjects?
10)  What is the importance of teacher for studying about school subjects?
11)  What are the different types of knowledge required by a teacher to know a school subject?
12)  What are the requirements for knowing the content of a school subject?

13)  Describe briefly the aspects that are essential for a teacher to know the content of school subjects?