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Deng, Z., Gopinathan, S, & Lee, K. E. C. (2013). Introduction. In Deng, Z., Gopinathan, S, & Lee, K. E. C. (Eds.), Globalization and the Singapore Curriculum: From Policy to Classroom (pp. 3-12). Springer.

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Deng, Z., Gopinathan, S, & Lee, K. E. C. (2013). Introduction. In Deng, Z., Gopinathan, S, & Lee, K. E. C. (Eds.), Globalization and the Singapore Curriculum: From Policy to Classroom (pp. 3-12). Springer.
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  3Z. Deng et al. (eds.), Globalization and the Singapore Curriculum: From Policy to Classroom , Education Innovation Series, DOI 10.1007/978-981-4451-57-4_1, © Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2013  Our increasingly globalized and networked world is having a major impact on the nature and structure of education systems. We have moved from an era in which education systems were nation-centric in character to one of greater internationalism. Inward student mobility, new knowledges, advances in cognitive sciences, powerful technology platforms, and changes in economically – valuable competencies are leading us to fundamentally rethink curriculum and pedagogy. Further, international comparisons of student performance between countries and their education systems conducted by international organizations (e.g., IEA and OECD) have caused coun-tries to reconsider their own forms of educational and curriculum policy against those which do differently or better. Many countries have embarked on curriculum reform to equip students with the understanding, skills and dispositions needed for participating in an increasingly competitive economic environment, via specifying competencies and outcomes across different school subjects in the curriculum (Yates and Young 2010 ). Across the globe many nations have been actively borrowing and adapting a common set of ideas about curriculum reform – promoted by international agencies like World Bank, UNESCO and OECD – into their particular contexts and situations (Anderson-Levitt 2008 ). The process of globalization has resulted in homogeneity on the one hand, and diversity and heterogeneity on the other – through hybridization “mediated and refracted by local variation and response” (Luke and Carrington 2002 , p. 55). Chapter 1 Introduction Zongyi Deng , S. Gopinathan , and Christine Kim- Eng Lee Z. Deng ( * ) • S. Gopinathan • C. K.- E. Lee National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore e-mail: zongyi.deng@nie.edu.sg  4  Singapore is a unique and fascinating place for the study of curriculum in the context of globalization. For the first half of the twentieth century it used, in English medium schools, a colonial curriculum, then a nation-centric curriculum, and is now beginning to address issues for twenty-first century competencies. At the “top of the class” on many of the international comparative measures on conventional educational achievement, Singaporean students have out-performed many of their counterparts in traditional educational centres in North America and Europe (Luke et al. 2005 ). This has created a widespread and growing international interest in Singapore’s education system and, particularly, its curriculum (see Barber and Mourshed 2007 ; Darling-Hammond 2010 ). Since the mid-1990s, Singapore has been at the forefront of reforming the curricu-lum in response to the perceived challenges of globalization. 1  Under the overarching framework of Thinking Schools, Learning Nation  (1997) and the  Desired Outcomes of  Education  (1998), a plethora of educational and curricular initiatives have been intro-duced to schools including: the critical thinking initiative (1997), the IT-Masterplans (1998–2002; 2003–2008; 2009–2014), National Education (a form of citizenship education) (1998), Innovation and Enterprise (2004), Teach Less Learn More (TLLM) (2004), and more recently, changes to primary and secondary schooling (MOE 2009 , 2010 ). These initiatives represent prototypical attempts to address the new conditions of nationhood and globalization, calling for the cultivation of critical thinking, creativity, innovation, life-long learning, positive attitudes and values, and national identity. Most recently, the Ministry has developed a new vision for the national curriculum, Curriculum 2015  (C2015), which enumerates a set of broad learning outcomes centred on twenty-first century competencies. Further, the locus of management has shifted from a direc-tive Ministry of Education to the hands of school leaders and classroom teachers. These reform efforts are, in many ways, unprecedented as many systems in the West still cling to industrial educational models, unwilling to take on substantive educational reform, and reasserting the value of a “back to basics,” standard curricu-lum (Gopinathan 2007 ; Luke et al. 2005 ). While there is some research and an increasing number of articles discussing particular issues in curriculum planning and implementation in Singapore, what is missing is a comprehensive account that critically analyses the nature and character of the Singapore curriculum within the context of the system’s current aspirations and curriculum reform initiatives as a response to the challenges of globalization. Aims of the Book This book critically analyses how the government has responded in the educational policy arena to the challenges of globalization as well as how curriculum reform initiatives have been translated into operational curricula and enacted in classrooms. 1  It can be argued that the curriculum reform as a response to globalization had actually started in 1987 (see Chap. 2 ). Z. Deng et al.  5 Further, it examines how reform initiatives, together with their curricular translation and classroom enactment, reflect on the one hand global features and tendencies and on the other, distinct national traditions, concerns and practices. In other words, there are two related themes to be unpacked in the book. One con-cerns government-initiated curricular changes in response to globalization, together with their curricular (operational) translation and classroom realization/enactment. The other pertains to issues of convergence (due to influences and pressures associated with globalization) and of divergence (due to distinct national culture, tradition and prac-tices) in relation to curriculum reform, curriculum development and implementation (Anderson-Levitt 2008 ). Through unpacking these two themes, the book relates what has been happening in Singapore to what has been happening in the world in terms of curriculum reform and globalization, and makes clear how curriculum reform initia-tives, curriculum development, and classroom enactment in Singapore have responded to globalization in distinctive  ways. Conceptual Framework The focus of the book is on curriculum reform in Singapore as a response to global-ization rather than the impact of globalization on curriculum. We therefore build the conceptual framework of the book centred around the notion curriculum  instead of globalization  . In dictionaries and common usage, the term “curriculum” is relatively simple, referring to a programme, a course of study, textbooks, and syllabuses, etc. In the academic literature the term is rather complex and highly contentious (see Jackson 1992 ; Connelly and Xu 2011 ). There is a multiplicity and proliferation of alternative definitions, curriculum as experience  , currere  , selection of culture  , to name just a few. Furthermore, there are a variety of alternative and competing ways of concep-tualizing curriculum, ranging from traditional conceptions such as academic ratio-nalism, social efficiency, self-actualization, and social reconstruction  (cf. Schiro 2008 ) to contemporary discourses that construe curriculum as historical  ,  political  , racial  , gender   ,  phenomenological  ,  poststructuralist, postmodern, autobiographic, aesthetic, theological, institutional text   (Pinar et al. 1995 ). The matter of defining and conceptualizing curriculum is in a state of “confusion” or “disarray” (Jackson 1992 ; also see Connelly and Xu 2011 ). Our way out of this definitional and conceptual confusion is to place curricu-lum  within the context of schooling as a public institution, with a close attention to the practice or the “inner work” of schooling (Westbury 2003a ). Broadly construed, schooling is embedded in three layers of context, societal  (interna-tional and national milieus, social structures and conditions, educational poli-cies, discourses, social expectations on schooling, etc.), institutional  (school types, streams or tracks, programmes, school subjects, grade-levels, assessment and examination policies, etc.), and instructional  (teacher-student interactions, classroom activities, discourses, outside-classroom activities and events, etc.) 1 Introduction  6 (Meyer 1980 ). Accordingly, we construe curriculum in terms of three domains, the  policy curriculum  ,  programmatic curriculum  , and classroom curriculum  . The Policy Curriculum This curriculum domain consists of educational policies and discourses at the inter-section between schooling, culture, and society, embodying a conception or paradigm of what schooling should be with respect to the society and culture. It “typifies” what is desirable in social and cultural orders, what is to be valued and sought after by members of a society or nation (Doyle 1992a , b ). Policy curriculum making involves the use of “images, metaphors, and nar-ratives as broad typifications of what can happen in a school” (Westbury 2000 , p. 34). It frames what should go on in a school or school system in terms of broad goals and general approaches to education. In this way, the policy curricu-lum serves as a means of drawing attention to educational ideals and expecta-tions (presumably) shared within a society and putting forward the forms and procedures of schooling as responses to those ideals and expectations (Doyle 1992a , b ). Because social and cultural contexts often change rapidly, in a cen- tralized education system like Singapore’s, policy curriculum making has been always employed by the government as a “convenient instrument” to communi-cate responsiveness to outside communities and to provide directions for reform-ing the school curriculum (Doyle 1992b ). The making of the policy curriculum almost always involves soliciting options and suggestions from various representative groups, including policy advisory bod-ies, employers, industry representatives, education specialists, school leaders, and various civic and special interest groups (Deng 2010 ). The policy curriculum con- stitutes an arena where various alternative curriculum conceptions, ideologies, and discourses are put forward in debate and discussion. However, many of those afore-mentioned alternative conceptions and contemporary discourses are “ideas about the curriculum rather than the practices of schooling,” and each of which “should be seen as a rhetorical form that seeks to stake out positions in the ideological space around the school” (Westbury 2003b , p. 534). They do not or cannot directly influ- ence the programmatic and classroom curricula. The Programmatic Curriculum The policy curriculum seeks to affect the classroom curriculum through the pro-grammatic curriculum – consisting of programmes, school subjects, and operational frameworks provided to schools or a system of schools (including school types and streams or tracks) (Doyle 1992a , b ; Westbury 2000 ). The programmatic curriculum constitutes an organizational and operational structure within which classroom Z. Deng et al.  7 practice takes place, and which in turn shapes and influences practice. This is an arena where the dictionary or common definition of curriculum (as a programme or course of study) finds meaning and significance. The programmatic curriculum is expected to perform functions like credentialing for further education and work-place preparation, and thus “instantiate the public’s understanding of ‘education’” (Westbury 2002 , p. 124). Programmatic curriculum making is at the intermediate levels between policy curriculum making and classroom curriculum making; it translates the ideals and expectations embodied in the policy curriculum into programmes, school subjects, and curricular frameworks that constitute “the ultimate basis for a system of schools and their work” (Westbury 2000 , p. 34; also see Doyle 1992a , b ). The process of constructing a programme, subject or framework “is grounded in arguments that rationalize the selection and arrangement of subject matter content for schools of particular types and the transformation of that content into school subjects appropri-ate to those schools or school types” (Westbury 2000 , p. 34). It involves a “theory of content” that connects content to the ideals/expectations at the policy level and the activities of teaching and learning in classroom (Doyle 1992a ; Deng 2011 ). The making of the programmatic curriculum is in many contexts a highly sophisti-cated endeavor, often undertaken by commissions or committees made up of repre-sentatives from governments, education ministries, schools, universities, business, industry, and civil society (Deng 2010 ). It occurs within “webs of societal and cultural ideologies and symbols, politics and organized interest groups, organizational and administrative structures and processes, and local understandings, beliefs and prac-tices” (Westbury 2008 , p. 50). The programmatic curriculum is inexorably embroiled in socio-political questions of how content (i.e., educational knowledge) is selected, classified, framed, transmitted, and evaluated in a way that “reflects both the distribu-tion of power and the principles of social control”(Bernstein 1971 , p. 47; also see Apple 1995 , 2004 ). However, it cannot or does not affect the classroom curriculum or pedagogy in a direct, straightforward way (Westbury 2008 ). The Classroom Curriculum The classroom curriculum, also called the enacted curriculum  , refers to what is taught and learned in classroom, represented by a cluster of events jointly devel-oped by a teacher and a group of students within a particular classroom (Doyle 1992a , b ). In a classroom, we cannot disentangle what is taught from how it is taught. The enacted curriculum or curriculum in use  (Decastell et al. 1989 ) is an evolving construction resulting from the interaction of the teacher and students over the programmatic curriculum (i.e., a school subject or course of study) within a specific instructional context. Classroom curriculum making entails transforming the programmatic curricu-lum (embodied in curriculum materials) into “educative” experiences for students. It requires further elaboration of the content of a school subject or course of study, 1 Introduction
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