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Ghosts in the Curriculum—Reframing Concepts as Multiplicities

Hardman, M; (2019) Ghosts in the Curriculum—Reframing Concepts as Multiplicities. Journal of Philosophy of Education 10.1111/1467-9752.12339. (In press).

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Abstract

Contemporary curricula specify the conceptual understanding that will be important for pupils in the world that they will soon inhabit. In so doing, concepts are characterised as representing the essential qualities of phenomena, the knowledge of which will be applicable in future contexts. Yet such a characterisation divorces concepts from the here and now, and from the detail of the activities and problems presented to learners in classrooms. I argue that there is a category error inherent in the way that the spectres of conceptual understanding are assumed to emerge from the unique circumstances of educational practice. This error has a long heritage which spans from Aristotle's essentialism to cognitivist theories of learning. I will show that this category error is sustaining an unnecessary separation between knowledge and learning in contemporary debates about curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Deleuze's notion of multiplicity offers an alternative characterisation, making a single curricular concept synonymous with the many, unique manifestations of that concept in the world. Seeing concepts as multiplicities allows us to recognise that curricular concepts themselves, and the conceptual understandings of individuals, are in a process of continual becoming. Concepts are dynamic and emergent from unique circumstances, yet allow shared understanding and assessment. Exorcising the supernatural view of concepts from contemporary debates in education is an affirmative first step in developing a more specific account of learning.

Type: Article
Title: Ghosts in the Curriculum—Reframing Concepts as Multiplicities
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9752.12339
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.12339
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Curriculum, concepts, multiplicity, powerful knowledge, Deleuze, Bergson
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058394
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