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'Death by a thousand cuts' : a history of the Tasmanian Essential Learnings Curriculum : 2000-06

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Rodwell, GW 2009 , ''Death by a thousand cuts' : a history of the Tasmanian Essential Learnings Curriculum : 2000-06', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

In 2000, Paula Wriedt, the Tasmanian Minister for Education, gave instructions for her department to begin the development of a K-10 statewide curriculum, soon to become known as the Essential Learnings Framework, or simply, ELs. The curriculum was an integrated one, doing away with traditional subjects, or disciplines, such as mathematics, science, English and history, and replacing these with an integrated, enquiry-based curriculum underpinned by constructivist pedagogy. This was the first attempt in Tasmania at a statewide K-10 curriculum, and the first attempt at major system-wide curriculum change for nearly twenty years.
Tasmanian Labor had been returned to power following a landslide win in the 1998 election. Following a process of massive statewide community consultation, the Bacon Government established Tasmania Together, a social, cultural and economic program intended to be the keystone of Tasmania's future over the following decades. ELs was the educational component of Tasmania Together. At no time in the history of Tasmanian education had a minister for education played such a prominent role in state curriculum policy.
During 2005 and early 2006, sections of the Tasmanian public began to express concerns about the educational value of ELs, as problems with its implementation brought an intensifying focus on the curriculum. These concerns came to a head in the March 2006 state election when Wriedt was returned with a drastically reduced vote in her electorate of Franklin. Premier Lennon 'stripped' her of the Education portfolio, and soon after, the new Minister for Education, David Bartlett began the development of his Tasmanian Curriculum, formally signalling the end of ELs.
This thesis argues ELs was essentially a political act. It was born through the quest for the maintenance of political power; its eventual demise was through the democratically expressed will of the people. This thesis attempts to uncover and describe its history and the essential causes of its demise.
Using social conflict paradigm of historical analysis as a research methodology, and through a thematic approach, this thesis attempts to unravel the multiple nuances within the history of ELs. A central aspect of social conflict historical analysis is that concepts, such as 'progress' and 'advancement', are conceived of as being problematic terms to use in historical analysis.
This analysis is concerned with the political, educational and social conflicts and compromises underpinning the history of ELs, especially with describing and analysing the educational and socio-political forces that brought an end to the curriculum.
For system-wide curriculum developers and educational authorities, and students of curriculum change, there are many lessons to be learnt from the history of ELs. In 2000, following the decades of inactivity in curriculum development and implementation, when Tasmania embarked on this ambitious program there were many challenges facing the successful implementation of ELs. This thesis attempts to unravel some of these challenges, while at the same time recording some of the successes of the ELs program.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Rodwell, GW
Keywords: Curriculum change, Education, Mainstreaming in education
Additional Information:

Spine title: A history of the Tasmanian essential learnings curriculum. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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