What Kind of Curriculum, Pedagogy & Qualifications Do We Need for an Uncertain Future?
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In a recent paper, Ronald Barnett (2004) called for an 'ontological turn' in curriculum and pedagogy away from a focus on knowledge and skills to a 'pedagogy for human being', which seeks to develop the human qualities and dispositions needed to thrive in an uncertain future. He counter-poses his approach with the 'generic skills' approach, arguing that the latter is a cul-de-sac, because it is premised on certain and knowable skills to navigate an uncertain world. While agreeing with him that generic skills are a dead-end, this paper argues that a 'pedagogy for human being' must be contextualised by a vocation, which means that knowledge and skills are important because they help to develop the human qualities and dispositions sought by Barnett. Unless the notion of vocation is used to ground Barnett's 'ontological turn' in the curriculum, the danger is that the attributes and dispositions he seeks will result in disconnected and fragmented identities, which find expression in market oriented capacities and patterns of consumption (Bernstein, 2000), rather than an intrinsic sense of inner calling, or (as sought by Barnett) an authentic self. I use critical realism to critique Barnett's analysis, draw on Bernstein (2000) to argue against decontextualised notions of 'trainability', offer Dewey's (1966 (1916)) notion of a vocation as an alternative, and Young (2003) to argue for an alternative model of qualifications and curriculum.
What a Difference a Pedagogy Makes: Researching Lifelong Learning and Teaching
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