William Guedes Cortezia


Curricula are historically formed within systems of ideas that describe styles of reasoning, standards and conceptual differences in school practices and their subjects. Curriculum is a practice of social regulation and the effect of power. The question of what curricular history “is” is also a question of the politics of knowledge in disciplinary work (Antunes, 2007; Apple, 1971; Dewey, 1916; Freire, 1993). This study is a critical discourse analysis of how the concept of citizenship/democracy is taught in public schools through the social sciences curriculum as found in the text of social studies standards and selected textbooks, as well as transcripts of interviews with five social studies teachers of a large public middle school in the Southeast United States (Gee and Green, 1998; Hicks, 1995; Luke, 1996; 2004). The researcher described, analyzed, and interpreted documents that included the National and State Social Studies Standards, transcriptions of interviews with five middle school social science teachers, and Geography, Civics and History textbooks used by the school system. The article highlights evidence of our inability to provide a truly democratic citizenship education through three different forums at the public school level: textbooks, standards, and teachers. Moreover, it refers to the importance of the Middle School years and the “in-between” characteristics for moral/social and academic development of students. The types of socially approved knowledge taught in mass educational institutions, such as the public school and the official endorsement of that knowledge, as reflected in social studies standards deserve more attention from researchers and educators to fill a major gap in the literature/analysis of the history of social studies curricula development. The social sciences middle school curriculum would benefit from a focus on its rationale, background needs and organization. It is essential to have educators involved in theory building which will grow out of processing and organizing new information. Teachers and students can commit to coming together and developing frames of reference that we call systems and theories. Each can then be tested for its utility and its power to explain, predict and extend what is known (Antunes, 2007; Apple, 1971; Combs, 1991). As a result of this research, it became clear that the curriculum is a constant work in progress, which through the lens of critical discourse led the researcher to conclude that the establishment of public knowledge is part of the democratic process. 


Democracy; Citizenship; Pedagogy.

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