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Curricular transposition in citizenship education

By Tristan McCowan


The considerable debate in recent years on the aims of citizenship education has not been accompanied by an equally substantial discussion on the educational processes involved. This article puts forward a theoretical framework, referred to as ‘curricular transposition’, for understanding the complex task of realizing normative ideals of citizenship through education. The framework highlights four stages in the educational process: the ideals and aspirations underlying an initiative; the curricular programme designed to achieve them; the programme’s implementation in practice; and its effects on students. The ‘leaps’ between these stages – involving movement between ends and means and between ideal and real – are highly problematic. These ideas are explored in the context of an empirical case: the Voter of the Future programme in Brazil. Disjunctures are observed at the different stages – in particular, a lack of ‘harmony’ between ends and means, and a lack of teacher ownership of the initiative in the process of implementation – leading to divergence between the initial aims and actual effects. Finally, broader implications of the curricular transposition framework for citizenship education are drawn out

Year: 2008
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