Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

School of Education Research Seminar Series

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Glasgow Room, B Building, Harcourt Hill Campus


Freedom as Non-Domination, Standards and the Negotiated Curriculum with speaker Neil Hopkins, University of Bedfordshire

This is one of a series of new research seminars within the School of Education. These seminars aim to provide a valuable and constructive platform for sharing ideas about teaching and research.

This paper investigates the application of Philip Pettit’s concept of freedom as non-domination to the issues of educational standards and the negotiated curriculum. The paper will argue that freedom as non-domination (and the connected concept of debating contestations as part of a legitimate democratic state) shines a critical light on governmental practice in England over the past two decades. The issue of a perceived lack of negotiation and consultation over curriculum levels, tests and benchmarks has left English governments of various colours vulnerable to the charge of the illegitimate use of coercive powers (on Pettit’s terms). Reiss and White’s proposal of an independent Commission on the curriculum is offered as a possible alternative where such debating contestations on the curriculum could take place.

Cohen’s proposal of an ideal deliberative procedure is offered as a potential mechanism for the facilitation of debating contestations between stakeholders over the curriculum. Cohen places particular importance on the participants being ‘formally and substantively equal’ in the proceedings and being able to ‘recognize one another as having deliberative capacities’. It will be argued that formal and substantive equality between children and responsible adults is problematic due to the ‘considerable interference’ (Pettit) teachers and adults have to make in children’s lives. However, the paper does offer examples of children’s deliberative capacities on the issue of the curriculum (in response to Cohen).

Part of the PESGB Oxford seminar series 2015/2016