Curriculum as a self-reflexive project

Tak Shing John LAM

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Curriculum here is defined in terms of Pinar’s (1974) and Pinar & Grumet’s (1976) notion of ‘currere’ which means ‘to run the course’. It is an experiential journey in which teachers and students alike can discover their self and identity and thus enhance their understanding of their passage through life. And also for reflexive persons, deepened understanding of the running will bring forth deepened agency. If put in a context of curriculum autonomy and agency for teachers, the term means curriculum will provide the teachers with the ‘space’ and ‘place’ (Miller, 1990) for their personal and professional growth and development. Likewise, in a child-centred fashion, teachers can design curriculum that will be conducive to the personal and academic development of their students. In the end, it would approximate to a ‘journeying together’ for teachers and students on their quest for meaning, identity and self-actualization in life. In this paper, this notion is alluded to a term first used by Giddens (1991) —self as a reflexive project. Transplanting this notion to the arena of curriculum making, it means teachers will autonomously reflect on, experiment with, review and refine their curriculum thinking and practice so as to ultimately reach self-actualization. This notion will be illustrated with some examples excerpted from the findings of a two-year study done locally by the writer on teachers’ personal theory and theorizing. Three out of a total of 8 teachers/principals in the study showed signs of treating curriculum as a reflexive project. In dire contrast to a technocratic paradigm of perceiving teacher professionalism, curriculum development and other educational issues, curriculum as a self-reflexive project dwells more on the Self-oriented paradigm. It is argued in this paper that for such self-oriented paradigm of teacher professional and curriculum development, some corresponding school organizational structures should be put in place. One of the four local schools studied shows that a three-tier model of ‘Experimenting—Platform building—Policy formulation’ can be one of the possible avenues for schools to acculturate curriculum as a self-reflexive project in their school ethos and structures. Other implications for teacher education, school-based curriculum development, and curriculum leadership will be made. The advantages and disadvantages of this notion in comparison with the technocratic mode of teachers’ professional development in curriculum matters will also be briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006


Lam, T. S. J. (2006, November). Curriculum as a self-reflexive project. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference 2006: Educational Research, Policy and Practice in an Era of Globalization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


Dive into the research topics of 'Curriculum as a self-reflexive project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.