The management of knowledge : text, context, and the New Zealand English curriculums, 1969-1996
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This is a study of the New Zealand English curriculums, 1969-1996. The study is organised around three phases of reform: the initial changes made to the teaching of English in the first three years of secondary school; the later reform of the senior-school English syllabus; the more recent development of an integrated national curriculum statement for the teaching of English. These reforms are charted in a narrative fashion, although the thesis does not purport to be a full history of English teaching in the period under review. Instead, the various developments and changes to English teaching in New Zealand secondary schools, during a thirty year period, are contextualised under the interpretative paradigm: the management of knowledge. It is argued herein that knowledge, and, in this case, the subject English, has been managed - consciously and unconsciously - in the interests of dominant socio-cultural and socio-economic groups. I aver that even alleged progressive developments in the pedagogy of classroom life have been routinised in the curriculum statements. Consequently, there has been an official sanctioning of established or conservative perspectives on the way English language and literature should be taught, thus often denying the emancipatory themes of respect for the human subject and human agency. My contention is advanced and supported through a careful examination of the curriculum text discourses, and, in several instances, through an examination of the transmission process from the draft statement to the published statement. I am therefore able to argue that the English curriculums must be understood as part of wider social and political processes: the curriculums are produced, managed and reproduced. The influences of the social environment and, in particular, the ideological struggle between State and society, are to be found in the English teaching discourse. This notion is captured in the subtitle of the study: text and context. The thesis concludes with a brief, personal reflection on how an English curriculum might be theorised so that it does not impose on students a definition of reality that declares the values and symbols of the social elites. I assert that an understanding of discourse, or the discourses of knowledge, can provide a way forward for the theorising of the subject English.