The relationship between teachers and government in curriculum development in Korea and England
This thesis examines teachers' perceptions of the relationship between teachers and government in the field of curriculum development, in the light of changes in the mode of curriculum control under which teachers carry out their work in Korea and England. In both countries, major recent legislation has brought about fundamental revisions of the curriculum. In Korea, the 1992 sixth National Curriculum declared a decentralization of curriculum development, ostensibly attempting to decrease government control over teachers. In England, the 1988 Education Act imposed a national curriculum: this represented an increase in government control over teachers. The thesis begins with a review of theoretical work relating to modes of curriculum control and professionalism. It then offers accounts of the historical and cultural context of curriculum development and professionalism in Korea and England, providing overviews of curriculum development, teacher education relating to curriculum development, teachers' organizations, hierarchies in society and schools, gender differences in the teaching profession, inspection of teachers, and teachers' relations with parents. A central issue for the thesis is the idea of teachers' professionalism in relation to government intervention in curriculum development. It is the main assumption of the study that teachers' professionalism in the field of curriculum control can be best analysed through an examination of the context in which it is embedded. Thus, this thesis involves empirical studies of structured samples of six primary schools in Korea and nine primary schools in England; questionnaires, interviews and case studies were administered in both countries. These investigations focus on comparing the teachers' perceptions of curriculum &-YQlppment. and professionalism in their different cultural contexts. Comparison serves to improve contextual understanding of teachers' professionalism within two different trends: centralization and decentralization. Examination of the empirical data reveals both similarities and differences between different teachers within each country, and also between teachers in the two countries. Overall, Korean teachers feel that they have only a restricted role in implementing the new curriculum in their own classroom, despite the recent change which introduced some decentralization in curriculum policy. Compared with this situation in Korea, despite governmental intervention in curriculum development the majority of English teachers may be characterized as still having an autonomous role in implementing the curriculum. Although there were different orientations and degrees of control among both groups of teachers, the belief in the desirability of teacher control of the curriculum has been a dominant perspective with widespread acceptance in the two countries. This thesis supports the view that teachers' professionalism is shaped by social, political, educational and institutional cultures in a very complicated fashion, and cannot be expected to change quickly or easily. It also demonstrates that teachers' professionalism cannot be conceptualized simply in terms of movement along the continuum between centralization and decentralization. The thesis argues that teachers' professionalism in relation to government intervention is affected much more by-what teachers think, which is shaped in their own cultural contexts, than by the nature of the change itself as defined by the legislation/Accordingly, it suggests that the strategies for enhancing teachers' professionalism in relation to curriculum development should be considered with reference to the cultural contexts within which they are practised.