Shifts in Curriculum Control: Contesting Ideas of Teacher Autonomy


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Co-action Publishing

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This article addresses how the introduction of a more product-oriented curriculum in Norway has challenged and altered more traditional ideas of teacher autonomy. Based on interview data, the study investigates prominent perspectives on autonomy through an analysis of how teachers, principals, a district superintendent and educational administrators perceive the current steering and control through the national curriculum. The findings show three main perspectives on teacher autonomy as (1) pedagogical freedom and absence of control, (2) the will and capacity to justify practices and (3) a local responsibility. However, these varying viewpoints are contested and highlight the multidimensionality of teacher autonomy. These should be discussed in relation to one another for an increased understanding of the associated and current dilemmas arising in the teaching profession with the shifts in curriculum control. The findings also shed light on how an increase in local responsibilities related to student outcomes and school development interferes in the unofficial contract that has historically existed between teachers and the state.



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