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Distributed for UCL Press

What Should Schools Teach?

Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth

Second Edition

Distributed for UCL Press

What Should Schools Teach?

Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth

Second Edition

A robust rationale on what schools should teach and how.

The design of school curricula involves deep thought about the nature of knowledge and its value to learners and society. Such a serious responsibility raises a number of questions: What is knowledge for? What knowledge is important for children to learn? How do we decide what knowledge matters in each school subject? The blurring of distinctions between pedagogy and curriculum, as well as that between experience and knowledge, has resulted in a confusing message for teachers about the part that each plays in the education of children. This book aims to dispel confusion through a robust rationale for what schools should teach, offering key understanding to teachers of the relationship between knowledge and their own pedagogy. This second edition includes new chapters on chemistry, drama, music, and religious education, as well as an updated chapter on biology. A revised introduction reflects on the emerging discourse around decolonizing the curriculum and on the relationship between the knowledge that children encounter at school and in their homes.

284 pages | 11 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Knowledge and the Curriculum

Education: Curriculum and Methodology, Higher Education

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"An important book. . . . should be mandatory reading for educational policymakers throughout the Anglophone world."

Areo Magazine

"If you want an in-depth analysis of the curriculum by subject, UCL’s What Should Schools Teach? is superb."

“This book brings profound questions about what children need to know back to the center of educational enquiry where they belong. The additional chapters in this second edition are excellent. We all need to read it.”

Elizabeth Rata, University of Auckland

“I am afraid that what we actually teach is so often forgotten in debates about schools. Subjects—the way that most people choose to divide up human knowledge—are too rarely the focus of our interest. Yet the subjects we offer and the syllabus content of each is arguably the most important single element of the school system. This book bucks the trend and should be of great importance to all teachers.”

Barnaby Lenon, CBE, University of Buckingham

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of abbreviations
Notes on contributors
Tim Oates

Introduction to the second edition
Alex Standish and Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
1 Disciplinary knowledge and its role in the school curriculum
Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
2 School subjects
Alex Standish
3 English literature
Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
4 Art
Dido Powell
5 Drama
Martin Robinson
6 Music
Simon Toyne
7 Foreign languages
Shirley Lawes
8 Geography
Alex Standish
9 History
Christine Counsell
10 Religious education
Rania Hafez
11 Biology
Fredrik Berglund and Michael J Reiss
12 Chemistry
Gareth Bates
13 Physics
Gareth Sturdy
14 Mathematics
Cosette Crisan
Alka Sehgal Cuthbert and Alex Standish

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