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Powerful knowledge and transformations processes across school subjects: interdisciplinary perspectives from the field of subject didactics
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013). University of Sussex, UK. (ROSE)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5457-6513
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013). (CSL, ROSE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2872-4102
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies (from 2013). CSD, ROSE.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9606-1961
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper we outline an empirical research framework building on the concepts of powerful knowledge and transformation. Powerful knowledge as an idea was coined by Michael Young (2009) to re-establish the importance of knowledge in teaching and curriculum development. Powerful knowledge is defined by Young as a subject specific coherent conceptual disciplinary knowledge that when learnt will empower students to make decisions, and become action-competent in a way that influence their lives in a positive way. 

We develop the concept of powerful knowledge in two important ways. First, instead of only discussing powerful knowledge as an idea related to educational practices, we take a research position suggesting that powerful knowledge could be used as a tool in educational research related to subject specific education. In doing so we, in line with Deng (2015), propose to align the curricular concept of powerful knowledge to the European research tradition of didactics in general, and subject didactics in particular. Second, we develop the concept of powerful knowledge by refuting the dichotomization suggested by Young (2015) that curriculum (‘what to teach’) can be separated from pedagogy (‘how to teach’). Instead we view these two questions as interrelated in didactical research.

We suggest an expansion of the concept of powerful knowledge by using the analytical concept of transformation as a key concept in describing powerful knowledge in different disciplines, institutions and school subjects. The reason for this is that the concept of transformation is a central issue for didactical research from different European research traditions. Transformation as we understand it can be described as an integrative process in which the content knowledge is transformed into knowledge that is taught and learned through various transformation processes outside and within the educational system in relation to individual, institutional and societal level. Such processes of transformation are apparent in concepts related to a number of different frameworks including: ‘transposition’ (Chevallard 2007), ‘omstilling’ (Ongstad 2006) and ‘reconstruction’ (Duit et al. 2012), and are also reflected in the work of Bernstein (1971) in relation to the concept of ‘re-contextualisation’ within the curriculum tradition. The school subject is never a simple reduction of the discipline. The content knowledge is always transformed to fit the educational purpose of teaching. Hence, to study the concept of powerful knowledge within school subjects we need to study its transformation processes, and address the ‘why’ question in addition to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions.

Moreover, the concept of powerful knowledge and the transformation processes the content of powerful knowledge undergo, must be placed in a wider context, where questions addressing societal challenges are raised. In a changing society the argument is being made that it is not obvious that powerful knowledge only stems from academic disciplines. For example, how does the emerging and rapidly changing media landscape affect powerful knowledge and how could powerful knowledge be understood in a connected classroom? How should interdisciplinary topics such as sustainability and migration be taught? What is powerful knowledge in such topics then emerges as a relevant question.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Biology; Samhällskunskap; Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-75298OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-75298DiVA, id: diva2:1360718
Conference
Oral presentation at the research seminar “Didactics and curriculum in complicated conversation” in Odense, Denmark, 25-26th of January, 2018.
Available from: 2019-10-14 Created: 2019-10-14 Last updated: 2019-10-25Bibliographically approved

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Gericke, NiklasHudson, BrianOlin-Scheller, ChristinaStolare, Martin

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