Curriculum understanding aids future citizenship development, says UJ education expert

Being a citizen in perilous times requires knowledge, skills and values that can sustain both individuals and the societies in which they live. This was a remark of Prof Kerry Kennedy, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

Prof Kennedy was speaking during a public lecture titled, Re-imagining the curriculum of new times: What should future citizens know, value and be able to do? The seminar was held at the University’s Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park on Thursday, 09 February 2017.

He stressed that all societies place great hope in the school curriculum. “Where there is a commitment to liberal democracy, schools have the potential to contribute to a kinder, more humane, more accommodating, more tolerant, more accepting, less confrontationist, less combative, less confronting, less selfish and less hurtful,” said Prof Kennedy.

However, the world in which we live makes this a very challenging task.

Said Prof Kennedy: “International terrorism, financial meltdowns, ongoing wars as well as new ones and natural disasters related to climate change provide a macro context that directly confronts the humanistic purposes of schools and schooling. When this backdrop is infused with the neo-liberal impulses of so many governments, the challenges for the school curriculum are even greater.”

This lecture focused on current and recent research that has sought to enhance understanding of the curriculum, its function, form and content. It also looked to identify new possibilities for a research agenda that might contribute to the development of future citizens.

Prof Kennedy concluded: “As the hopes of the new century evaporate and populist realities start to shape the international landscape, re-imagining the school curriculum becomes our priority.”

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