Language Awareness & Knowledge About Language: A History of a Curriculum Reform Movement Under the Conservatives, 1979 -1997.
Murakami, Charlotte Victoria Trudy
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
England’s long history of education has witnessed many conflicts in regard to language teaching. In this thesis, I investigate the conflicts surrounding two language education reform movements, Language Awareness and Knowledge About Language, during the Conservative administration between 1979 and 1997. The investigation examines official and non-official plans and policy texts produced by various groups and actors, notably Hawkins and Cox, that detail how the teaching of ‘Language’ should be conducted in England’s state school curriculum. The focus of the research is upon identifying what LA and KAL were as pedagogical concepts; why LA was reconstituted as KAL; what the motives underpinning these various plans and policies were; and finally, why efforts to establish LA and KAL were resisted. In the effort to make sense of this history, I draw theoretically and methodologically upon the work of Foucault, Fairclough, Bernstein and Ager. Limitations of my interpretation of this history notwithstanding, my findings revealed that LA was an educational reform movement that emerged from common schooling discourses, and one that sought to improve its educational provision. While LA was originally intended to be a subject in its own right that bridged the English and Foreign Language subject areas, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate reconstituted LA and placed its responsibility firmly within the English subject area. The motives underpinning LA and KAL planning and policy are varied. Those underpinning the policies, however, are distinctly ideological in nature, drawing a strong relationship between language education and democracy. Nearly all motives pertain to what Bernstein calls a competence model of education, the modes of which are notably attuned to addressing inequality and promoting social integration. LA and KAL were reforms that were both ill understood and resented, for varying and complex reasons, by educators and the Conservatives alike. The thesis closes with directions for future research.
Freathy, Rob JK
EdD in TESOL
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