Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.12B, 58-65
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access
Teaching with an Attitude: Finding Ways to the Conundrum
of a Postmodern Curriculum
Ana Paula Martinez Duboc
Faculty of Education, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Received October 30th, 2013; revised November 30th, 2013; accepted December 7th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Ana Paula Martinez Duboc. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all
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Several scholars in the field of education have questioned the constituent aspects of a curriculum that
would better respond to the rising demands in contemporary societies. The relevance of such enquiry
finds its place in the very transformations in today’s societies marked by significant changes in the ways
of knowing, being, and acting primarily due to the advent of new digital media in more recent globalizing
processes. As Burke (2009) has stated, if schools wish to maintain their relevance in society, they must
take into account such changes by first and foremost acknowledging the new and complex ways of mak-
ing meanings in out-of-school literacy prac tices as equally legitimating those happening with in school con-
texts. Along with Burke (ibid.), this paper advocates the need of rethinking the notion of curriculum in the
light of the new ontologies and epistemologies of postmodernity. Such task proves itself to be a conun-
drum inasmuch as the very notion of curriculum has been traditionally founded on modern principles such
as linearity, stability, and universality (Silva, 2009). In view of this, how can educators respond to the
challenge of redefining what should be taught in schools in postmodern times so that students would bet-
ter perform in relation to the self and the other within their social practices? This paper aims to analyse
the relationship between postmodern philosophical concepts, curriculum theory and educational practice
by presenting the notion of curricular attitude (Duboc, 2012) as a local redesign of teaching practices
within a Brazilian educational context. Despite being situated in the field of foreign language teaching,
the notion of a curricular attitude might be of interest of other areas of knowledge since it seeks to revisit
teaching practices in the light of wider philosophical concerns.
Keywords: Postmodernity; Curriculum Studies; Curricular Attitude; Language Teaching; Teacher
History (...) shows that change produces anxiety, particularly
if it involves a move from a comfortable climate of familiarity
to an unpredictable arena of uncertainty. But, such a change
can be less disorienting if it develops within a context in which
the participants themselves play a role in making decisions and
in implementing those decisions (Kumaravadivelu, 2006: p.
Several scholars in the field of education have questioned the
constituent aspects of a curriculum that would better respond to
the rising demands in contemporary societies. The relevance of
such enquiry finds its place in the very transformations in to-
day’s societies marked by significant changes in the ways of
knowing, being, and acting primarily due to the advent of new
digital media in more recent globalizing processes.
In a broad sense, these new ways of knowing, being, and
acting reflect the new epistemological basis within post-typo-
graphical societies. With respect to ways of knowing, people
are now constructing new knowledge under the logic of distri-
bution, collaboration, sharing, and experimenting (Lankshear &
Knobel, 2006) to the detriment of concentration and normatiza-
tion as predominant elements in typographical societies. When
it comes to the new ways of being and acting, these generally
refer to a greater deal of participation in different social prac-
tices through a vast option of media devices by which post-
modern individuals perform, interact, and engage with each
Such scenario in constant and rapid change does bring anxi-
ety to those who might have been accustomed to traditional
ways of knowing, being, and acting. Nonetheless, taking the
premise that an educator is responsible of their learners’ be-
coming to this world (Biesta, 2006), we must question the im-
plications of these social transformations to education in an
attempt to bring forth answers on what is to be taught at con-
temporary schools in different parts of the world so that learn-
ers are better prepared to respond to these new social demands.
As Burke (2009) has stated, if schools wish to maintain their
relevance in society, they must take into account such changes
by first and foremost acknowledging the new and complex
ways of making meanings in out-of-school literacy practices as
equally legi ti mating those happening within school contexts.
Along with Burke (ibid.), this paper advocates the need of
rethinking the notion of curriculum in the light of the new on-
tologies and epistemologies of postmodernity. Such task proves
itself to be a conundrum inasmuch as the very notion of cur-
riculum has been traditionally founded on modern principles
such as linearity, stability, and universality (Silva, 2009). In
view of this, how can educators respond to the challenge of
redefining what should be taught in schools in postmodern
times so that students would better perform in relation to the
self and the other within their social practices? This paper aims
to analyse the relationship between some postmodern philoso-
phical concepts, curriculum theory and educational practice by
presenting the notion of curricular attitude (Duboc, 2012) as a
local redesign of teaching practices within a Brazilian educa-
tional context. Despite being situated in the field of foreign
language teaching, the notion of a curricular attitude might be
of interest of other areas of knowledge since it seeks to revisit
teaching practices in the light of wider philosophical concerns.
The Postmodern Curriculum:
Why a Conundrum
As Lyotard (2004) states, postmodernity refers to the cultural
state subsequent to major changes in the field of Science, Lit-
erature, and the Arts which had been primarily founded on
Newtonian and Cartesian principles until the late 20th century.
Such changes helped define what came to be known as post-
industrial societies and the following emergence of new ways
of knowing, being, and acting that would question the modern
grand narrative, moving towards a process of legitimizing het-
erogeneous and localized knowledge through a new logic of
uncertainty and instability.
Along with Lyotard (ibid.), Silva (2010) defines postmoder-
nity as both an aesthetic and epistemological change in relation
to modernity due to its critique towards notions such as purity,
abstraction, and totality. Contrary to these categories, postmod-
ern discourse would then embrace diversity, situatedness, and
contingency (Giroux, 1993) shedding new light to the under-
standing of social practices as these are assumed to be inher-
ently characterized by discontinuities and contradictions (Tor-
res, 2003).
Under such premises, Hall (2004) claims for the need of ad-
dressing issues such as identity, nation, and culture through the
complexity and fluidity of new social relationships. In this re-
spect, the hitherto centered and sovereign subject whose social
roles would be easily spotted has now been replaced by a de-
centered and fragmented subject and the subsequent difficulties
when attempting to define their social and cultural role not to
mention their own identity in relation to themselves (Hall, 2004:
p. 9).
Regardless of the several definitions1 one might find when it
comes to the understanding of these more recent times, this
paper views postmodernity as more related to dialogue than to
rupture. In this respect, it seems that contrary to the strong
sense of rupture between positivist scholars and precedent
metaphysical theories—Comte (1978: p. 102) himself would
accuse all precedent metaphysicians of being inconsequent
speculators—postmodern discourse seems to favour a dialogi-
cal approach which views modernity as the basis of a better
understanding of our times (Cordeiro, 2002) through a geneal-
ogy and perspective-based approach (Foucault, 2009; Britzman,
In view of these brief considerations on some of the con-
stituent aspects of postmodernity, this paper agrees with Silva’s
statement (2010) on the somehow “impossibility” of referring
to a postmodern curriculum. The author (ibid.) claims that the
notion of curriculum is the very materialization of modern ele-
ments inasmuch as for long centuries it has been conceived of
under the logic of linearity, stability, and universality.
By assuming a genealogical look upon the history of cur-
riculum within formal educational contexts, one might identify
such linearity, stability, and universality from Ancient times
until the Modern paradigm. As Silva (2010) explains, from
Ancient Greece until the Renaissance, education set its base on
both so-called trivium and quadrivium: the former would com-
prise the teaching of Grammar, Logic, and Rethoric whereas
the latter would comprise the teaching of Astronomy, Geometry,
Arithmetic and Music. In both curricular programs, the purpose
of education would be related to a gradual transmission of sta-
ble contents (i.e. the canon in the field of Literature) which
would be passively received and reproduced by learners in a
process where curiosity, questioning and reinterpretation were
absent. A few centuries later, in the Age of Enlightenment, the
curricular program gains a more rational and specialized ap-
proach, leading to a hyper-disciplinarization through the crea-
tion of new disciplines (Doll Jr, 1997; Macedo, 2007; Morin,
As Doll Jr (1997) states, the modern curriculum puts suppo-
sitions, beliefs, and paradoxes aside in an attempt to focus on
“self-evident” contents which then would be acquired by the
learner through what Kumaravadivelu (2006) calls “the criteria
of comp le xi ty ”, tha t is t o say , co nte n ts wou ld be di spl ay e d f ro m
simple to complex as well as from an arbitrary “beginning” to
an arbitrary “ending”, resonating the positivist principles of
selection and gradation.
According to Monte Mór (2008, 2010), particularly in the
field of foreign language teaching, such two principles are still
very recurring in many classrooms in which teachers, for in-
stance, usually follow a “pre-determined” sequence of grammar
structure teaching, being the Verb To Be the first, followed by
the Present Progressive Tense, then the Simple Present Tense,
and so forth. As for the universal aspect in foreign language
curricula, this might be seen whenever one still finds a striking
predominance of hegemonic cultural and linguistic varieties in
many of the language textbooks available in the market, whose
narratives are taught—and here I quote Adichie (2009)2—as if
they were “a single story”. Despite all recent developments in
language policies and curriculum studies worldwide, particu-
larly those contributions signalled by critical applied linguistics
as well as post-colonial and post-structuralist studies, unfortu-
nately a careful analysis on textbook industry still reveals such
high emphasis on linearity, stability, and universality.
If on the one hand, many of us find ourselves in a postmod-
ern era marked by uncertainty and instability which embraces
social, cultural, linguistic, ethnic diversity, on the other hand,
many of us might still witness curricular programs pretty much
based on a linear, stable, and universal way of organizing con-
1One might also find terms such as “liquid modernity” (BAUMAN, 2001)
and “late modernity” (GIDDENS, 2002), as alternative understandings o
what this paper has been calling “postmodernity” along with Lyotard (2004)
Hall (2004) and others.
2ADICHIE, C. The danger of a single story. TED Global talks, Jul 2009.
(last chec k ed 28 October 2013)
< >
Open Access 59
tents regardless of our area of knowledge. Whether such uncer-
tainties and instabilities of recent times are either positive or
negative, it seems to be common ground that important social
changes are happening in different parts of the world. Along
with Burke (2009), to whom schools must acknowledge such
changes and learn from them, this paper advocates for the im-
perative need of rethinking the very notion of curriculum to-
wards these new social demands. This would imply looking at
the traditional curriculum under the perspective of a different
ontological and epistemological basis brought up in contempo-
rary societie s as discussed in the subsequent section.
Finding Ways to the Conundrum of a
Postmodern Curriculum
In an attempt to respond to the challenge of coming up with a
postmodern curriculum, several scholars (Biesta, 2006, 2010;
Britzman, 1991; Doll. Jr., 1997; Kress, 2000; 2008 to name a
few), have contributed with very insightful ideas which then
might be interpreted according to the specificities of each area
of knowledge.
By rediscussing the praxis in teacher education programs,
Britzman (1991), for instance, advocates for a dialogical re-
structuring of curricular programs which would acknowledge
the existence of multiple realities, voices and discourses in
ongoing tension within the educational context. Such complex
and contradictory scenario would then serve as the starting
point of a new notion of curriculum by assuming perspectivism
as key element to the detriment of a high emphasis on
self-evident bits and pieces of knowledge. As the author states
(Britzman, 1991: p. 2):
Enacted in every pedagogy are the tensions between knowing
and being, thought and action, theory and practice, knowledge
and experience, the technical and the existential, the objective
and the subjective. Traditionally expressed in dichotomies,
these relationships are not nearly so neat or binary. Rather,
such relationships are between expressed as dialogic in that
they are shaped as they shape each other in the process of
coming to know.
By analysing postmodern art and architecture, Doll Jr (1997),
in turn, pinpoints three useful characteristics to his draft of a
postmodern curriculum, that is to say, the necessary dialogue
with tradition (in place of an abrupt rupture); the eclectic and
pluralist nature of postmodernity (in place of the hitherto
monolithic nature of the modern paradigm); the plays of mean-
ings and interpretations (in place of the previous deification of
concepts and practices). In sum, the notion of a postmodern
curriculum, in Doll Jr.’s terms, would be based on an experien-
tial, generative, and hermeneutic approach to the detriment of
the traditional curriculum based on transmission, verification,
and representation of truths. This somehow resonates Fou-
cault’s concept of curriculum as a regime of discourse, as re-
called by Britzman (1991), inasmuch as it “intones particular
orientations, values, and interests, constructing images or cul-
tural myths” (Britzman, 1991: p. 17).
Scholars such as Kress (2000, 2008) have discussed curricu-
lar issues in the light of the new multimodal meaning making
processes that have emerged with the advent of new digital
media. Among several aspects, Kress (2008) claims that a cur-
riculum for instability would necessarily refer back to ethics
inviting us to question, among other aspects, who adds value to
a certain object and how such values affect oneself, the people
around one’s community as well as the people from different
social groups. When Kress (ibid.) brings these questions at
stake, he actually leads us to question the arbitrary nature of
curriculum and the subsequent need for us, as ethical teachers,
to “denaturalize” what seems to be natural (Menezes de Souza,
2006, 2011) by bringing to class different perspectives.
Similar attention to the importance of ethics in contemporary
societies is brought by Biesta (2006). By relating the notions of
responsibility, plurality, action and ethics, the author revisits
the idea of learning by conceptualizing it as a response, to the
detriment of the traditional view of learning as acquisition. In
practical terms, this implies a notion of curriculum that would
invite learners to ethically respond to their surrounding con-
cepts, practices, and traditions. In order to do so, Biesta (ibid., p.
91) advises us that such process is not always pleasant, being
much closer to a pedagogy that disturbs, deconstructs, inter-
rupts stable and universal contents previously learned:
A pedagogy of interruption is, therefore, a pedagogy that
aims to keep the possibility of interruption of the normal
order open. It is first of all a pedagogy committed to the possi-
bility of interruption and perhaps also a pedagogy that itself
will interrupt. () A pedagogy of interruption is not a strong
pedagogy; it is not a pedagogy that can in any sense guarantee
its outcomes
Bearing in mind the contributions of these authors, the table
below (Table 1) is an attempt to display the key concepts when
one tries to identify some of the categories that would be wel-
comed in a supposed postmodern curriculum (Duboc, 2012).
Modern education would view learning as acquisition of
clear-cut, objective, and universal contents which were to be
transmitted by the teacher. In a broader sense, such model relies
on the notion of an external, monolithic reality which would
then be simply attested or “verified” by the subject. In the lan-
guage classroom, this might be evident whenever the students
are asked to decode text meanings by simply “verifying” them
as if they were out there, displayed among words. Postmodern
education, in contrast, would view learning as knowledge con-
struction, which allows us to think of learning as a response
(Biesta, ibid.) for its subjective nature and the imminent need
for action in social life. Similarly, in such paradigm, reality is
also a construction, a perspective, so to speak. When one
teaches under this logic, students are invited to interpret text
meanings to the det ri ment of mere verification.
As one can see, the categories on the right might be typically
associated with the realm of subjectivity, which then gives
room to the frowned upon argument of “anything goes” in
postmodern studies (particularly post-structuralist ones). None-
theless, this paper advocates the possibility of bringing forth
teaching practices that would be based on the notions such as
response, perspective, and interpretation as new elements in a
so-called postmodern education. In other words, if we assume
such elements as important ones to be brought in our teaching
practices, we might come up with practical actions within our
educational contexts. Such teaching practices refer to what I
call a curricular attitude (Duboc, 2012) which could either
Table 1.
Key concepts in two distinct ideas of a curriculum.
The modern curriculum A postmodern curriculum
Key conceptsacquisition
Open Access
emerge between th e c racks3 within the classrooms or previously
be planned by teachers in accordance with a set of conceptual
and methodological choices as discussed in the following sec-
On the Notion of Curricular Attitude:
Conceptual and Methodological Issues
The notion of curricular attitude (Duboc, 2012) resulted
from a PhD research which sought to bring forth new teaching
practices in the light of some postmodern concepts. The re-
search involved the planning and implementation of activities
within undergraduate students from a Language Teacher Edu-
cation program in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. By that time,
such attitude would occur in relation to any of the curricular
components, that is to say, the course plan, the textbook, and,
mainly, the discursive practices among the teacher and her stu-
dents which often revealed their personal concepts, beliefs, and
experiences towards different emerging topics. Before describ-
ing one of these experiences as an illustrative example, it might
be important to clarify its underlying conceptual and methodo-
logical aspects.
In order to better understand the use of the term attitude in
the present paper, it is important to mention that one of the
main premises of such investigation referred to the need of a
critical perspective in the teaching of a foreign language. Sev-
eral studies have stated the new roles of foreign languages in
global digital times and the emerging need of providing our
students with new abilities and strategies which are now para-
mount for their active participation in these new complex liter-
acy practices. In other words, in a global world where different
kinds of discourse rapidly circulate among interconnected peo-
ple, schools/colleges must prepare students to both critically
read and position themselves towards the (multi)literacy prac-
tices they engage with.
How does one teach the other to be a critical agent? As
Morgan (2010, p. 35), explains, there is a strong connection
between agency and identity for the process of learning “in-
volves a process of identification”. To put it differently, one
will be critically acting if one assumes critique as part of their
identity. Such “learning to be a critical agent”—which might
imply learning/accessing new roles of identity—would not take
place in a clear-cut, stable, and universal process as we might
infer from Morgan (2010: p. 44):
Acquiring a new role of identity may involve different forms
and pathways of learning. (...) We cant develop a transforma-
tive or libratory agency in the same way we might promote
grammatical or methodological competence in LTE.
Another important thing to bear in mind when teachers at-
tempt to foster agency among students is the impending danger
of indoctrination. How does one know the boundary between
one’s intention to foster other’s agency and their wish to be-
come transformative agents?
Back in the seventies, mainly founded on the ideas of Paulo
Freire, critical pedagogy would aim to empower students in
view of their oppressed living and working conditions. Under
such pedagogy, educators would teach students to read both the
world and the word critically as pre-condition for an inclusive
and just society. In more recent times, that notion of critique
has been revisited in a way that it now assumes less a revolu-
tionary tone and more a problematizing attitude (Pennycook,
2001). In other words, the very notion of critique has been re-
considered in postmodern times so that its previous empower-
ing and indoctrinating stance now seems to give room to a more
collaborative understanding of what it means to develop a
critical approach in the classroom.
The impasse of such imminent indoctrinating approach by
which a teacher would teach students how to be critical agents
has been revisited by the concept of critical literacy. According
to Muspratt et al. (1997), critical literacy is a pedagogical ori-
entation that views literacy as a social practice and the subse-
quent need of a deconstructive work towards the cultural
meanings of texts. As Shor (1999) states, this fosters the under-
standing of our own social and historical construction enabling
us to transform any aspect of our lives if we wish so. Originally
stemmed from Critical Theory, Sociology, and Anthropology,
among other disciplines, critical literacy scholars (Comber,
2001; Green, 1997; Wooldridge, 2001 to name a few) have de-
fined such orientation as a philosophical posture, an attitude so
to speak, in place of the notion of a pre-determined method:
Critical literacy is an orientation to literacy: it is not some-
thing separate from literacy in general, or a particular part of
literacy () Critic al literacy is not a tec hnique or set of strate-
gies, but rather, part of a pedagogy underpinning a whole ap-
proach or classroom practice. A critical approach to literacy is
about decoding and encoding the social, political, and ideo-
logical situatedness of literacy (Wooldridge, 2001: p. 259)
By taking the premise that agency is an essential ability in
today’s societies and by assuming a notion of critique that is
closely related to a problematizing attitude rather than an in-
doctrinating method, I come up with the notion of a curricular
attitude in response to what I consider, along with Silva (2010),
a conundrum when one attempts to neatly define a postmodern
curriculum. To put it differently, on the apparent impossibility
of designing a postmodern curricular program, the idea of a
postmodern curriculum would rely on our critical attitude to-
wards pre-existent curricula. By recalling the table previously
displayed in this paper, a response, perspective, and interpreta-
tion-based approach would not be located within pre-deter-
mined curricular contents with top-down pre-established tech-
niques; on the contrary, such approach would emerge in the
spaces between subjects and objects—that is to say, on the way
teacher and learners relate themselves to any of the texts avail-
able out there in the classroom.
Taking into consideration Biesta’s above words and his no-
tion of interruption as an important aspect in today’s curriculum,
it might be fruitful to think of our attitudes towards our cur-
ricular programs as the very basis of a new understanding of
curriculum in postmodern times: the way we look at its com-
ponents and how we address such components might make a
difference in the process of our students’ becoming. In other
words, the extent of their critical agency might be directly re-
lated to our attitudes as educators.
It might be worth mentioning that the term attitude per se has
appeared on several philosophical studies, such as an essay
written by Foucault (1984) in which the post-structuralist
scholar relates both concepts of critique and attitude:
The critical ontology of ourselves has to be considered not,
certainly, as a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent
body of knowledge that is accumulating; it has to be conceived
as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the cri-
tique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical
3The term “bet ween the cracks” migh t be read as “between th e gaps” inter-
changeabl y.
Open Access 61
analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment
with the possibility of going beyond them.
As for a closer relation between a critical way of teaching—
which presupposes a deconstructive exercise—and the concept
of attitude, Green (1997: p. 231) states that:
Deconstruction is to be reckoned as reading, as a specific
mode of reading practice. As such, it encompasses both a poli-
tics and an ethics, understood not so much in terms of
method or a program as of a distinctive, and distinctively
wordly, attitude. That is to say, deconstruction is to be grasped
as a strategy, an attitude, a stance toward texts, institutions, the
social world and Being itself.
Along with several scholars from the field of language
teaching (Brown, 1994; Graves, 1996; Richards, 1989), this
paper acknowledges the importance of course planning and
lesson planning. In this respect, one might ask: How can we
come up with curricular planning in relation to this notion of
attitude? In other words, will there be a way of planning such
attitude towards the curriculum? The answer would be yes,
since, as previously stated, such attitude could either emerge
between the cracks within the classroom context or previously
be planned by teachers in accordance with certain methodo-
logical choices.
By the term “between the cracks” within the classroom con-
text, I mean those moments in which we, as teachers, immedi-
ately identify fruitful spaces for expanding perspectives (Monte
Mór, ibid.). Such expansion might occur by comparing and
contrasting viewpoints, discussing further aspects on a specific
theme, relating global and local contexts critically, inviting
students to position themselves towards what they think and
what others think about a certain issue, and so forth. Such
fruitful moments in the classroom—the cracks in the curricu-
lum, I would say, or, in Morgan’s terms, the small spaces and
places (Morgan, 2010)—are not necessarily planned for they
might emerge by a student’s comment on a topic, a recent event
broadcast by the local news, or even the way we interpret a
certain image displayed on a textbook. The way I see it, our
attitude between these cracks might have a greater social effect
inasmuch as, by the very moment we disturb our students’ as-
sumptions, we might be contributing to a better acceptance of
difference. It is worth noting, however, the necessary teacher
preparation whenever opening up spaces for difference since
there is no control on what students might bring out to the
Likewise, I also find it possible to preplan a set of activities
with the intent of interruption. In such case, a careful critical
analysis of any curricular components might lead us into a pre-
vious recognition of those cracks to be expanded. By assuming
a sociological look on the curriculum as a social and ideological
product, by curricular components I mean anyone and anything
inscribed within an educational context: the teacher, the stu-
dents, the textbook, the classroom architecture, the social eti-
quette, what students (don’t/can’t) say, what students (don’t/
can’t) do—these are all aspects that help produce the very no-
tion of curriculum. I believe whenever we see those cracks in
advance as emerging possibilities for critical expansions, it is
our role, as active educators, find room for such expansion
within our curriculum.
The following figure (Figure 1) is an attempt to visually dis-
play the notion of curricular attitude as presented in this work.
By trying to summarize which contents, procedures, resources,
and purposes would coherently respond to the theoretical
emerg ing conc ept s and
pra ctices within the
interpretative approach
verbal/non-verbal texts in
both print and digital media
interrupt, de construct,
problema tize, expa nd
Figure 1.
Curricular attitude and its components: a visual representation.
framework of this paper, I find myself in an uncomfortable
situation since tables and figures might convey a stabilizing and
universalizing purpose. Nonetheless, the way it has been sum-
marized relies on a locally designed course plan for its own
commitment to local needs, interests, and expectations. An
example of a local redesign is shared in the subsequent section .
Curricular Attitude: A Research
Experience in Brazil
The local curricular redesign, that is to say, my on attitude
towards a pre-existent curriculum so that I would provide stu-
dents with possibilities for interruption and worldview expan-
sion is actually a reinterpretation on some of the categories
presented by Kalantzis and Cope (2008) as well as Monte Mór
(2008, 2011) as follows4:
Experiencing the known
Experiencing the new
Finding local and global connections
Expanding worldviews
Out of several cycles of action implemented through a one-
year collaborative-action research on a Teacher education pro-
gram, I share one of the set of activities which was thought
after a female student’s comment on the issue of gender roles.
At that specific day, the teacher was actually discussing about
sports as part of one of the textbook topics. By that time, stu-
dents were expressing their opinions on the topic. The striking
comment presents as follows:
Rebeca: I like soccer. I go to stadiums once in a while
Camila: Ahah! Of course... You look like a man!
Voilà! Here is a fruitful crack within this curriculum, which
gives room to the teacher’s attitude in search of disturbing stu-
dents to think differently. Although simple at first glance, the
student’s comment raises the complex issue of gender5 since
Camila’s comment – which reveals her surprise towards the
fact her female classmate often goes to soccer stadiums—
seemed to imbue a stereotypical view of gender roles, which
then might lead to prejudicial behavior. According to Bourdieu
(1996), such essentialist way of perceiving the world makes
human beings distinct from one thing/person/event to another.
4A more detai led exp lanation o f each of t hese categ ories is found on Du boc
(2012), available on
07122012-102615/pt-br.php (l ast checked 28 October 2013).
5On 14 May 2013, The Justice’s National Council of Brazil issued a ruling
requiring all civil register s of the country to perform same-sex ma rriages.
Open Access
Despite sounding “natural” to many people, such distinctions
are actually socially produced. One of the goals of critical edu-
cation is to deconstruct/denaturalize such classificatory scheme.
If one bears this goal in mind, such class must be “interrupted”
in Biesta’s terms.
Besides that, it is worth mentioning that the textbook per se
provides us with other insightful ideas for it represents certain
sports being played by either man or woman, not to mention the
subsequent lesson which, under the heading “family”, would
bring the photo of a traditional nuclear family6. Considering
myself as responsible for how the other responds to the world
(Biesta, ibid.), I could not leave it behind and decided to plan
the following sequence of activities (as shown in Table 2)
based on the above categories.
The whole cycle of action was developed within a week in
two classes. In order to put these steps into action, several texts
of all modes (visual, auditory, textual) were used, such as: im-
ages of different family arrangements, a descriptive text on the
terminology of different family arrangements, and finally a
video in which a boy meets a gay couple for the first time7.
Since this course plan refers to a foreign language teaching
context, all steps aimed at developing linguistic competence
(that is, improving the students’ ability to position themselves
in English) along with a wider educational goal aimed at invit-
ing students to listen to the other, to look at things differently,
to decenter (pre)conceptions, to expand worldviews and, mostly,
to transform their own perceptions if they wish so. Such atti-
tude towards that traditional curricular component was surely
disturbing for some of those students. Nonetheless, if we ac-
knowledge the fact that heterogeneity is one of the key ele-
ments in contemporary societies, different perspectives are to
be put at stake within the classroom, especially in Teacher
education programs.
Table 2.
Curricular attit u de: a practical exam ple (Dubo c , 2012).
stage procedure
Experie ncing the know n Vocabulary review aimed at the
theme: “family”
Experiencing the new
Visual literacy: interpretation on
different family arrangements in
photos including those not presented
by the textbook
Categorizing Explicit articulation between gender,
sexuality, an d f amily
Finding local and
global connections
Critical comparison and contrast
between families in the textbook,
the photos and real ones
Expanding worldvie ws
Understandi ng of the concept of family
in postmodern times; problematizing
heterogeneity and the naturalization
of the “non-natural”
Acknowledg ement of heterogeneity in
other social cultural practices other than
gender issues; acknowledgement of the
difficulties with coping with dissensus.
Some Conclusions
This paper attempted to briefly highlight the main constituent
aspects of post modernity in order to later discuss to what ex-
tent we might come up with a postmodern curriculum. Along
with several scholars, I interpret such task as a conundrum as
the very notion of curriculum has been built on modern ideas
such as linearity, stability, and universality.
As discussed in the first section of this paper, the modern
curriculum had long been based on concepts such as acquisition,
representation, and verification of stable and universal contents.
However, social transformations in late 20th century have al-
tered this way of knowing by the emergence of situated and
heterogeneous social practices, giving room to a new look on
learning, knowledge, and reality based on fresh ideas such as
response, perspective, and interpretation. Post modernity, so to
speak, has altered the epistemological basis inasmuch as it ac-
knowledges that meanings are socially and culturally con-
structed. From that standpoint, schools would start to take into
account the multiple meanings and interpretations brought by
students in their various literacy practices. In view of that, what
should be taught at schools in contemporary societies? Which
contents are supposed to be addressed? How would they be
addressed in a way that would go beyond linearity, stability,
and universality?
The answer for such questions seeks support among post-
modern scholars who have been discussing curricular issues for
some time. As presented in the second section, when we try to
come up with a postmodern curriculum, concepts such as per-
spective, interpretation, and response seem to be common
ground among these scholars who, in a broad sense, don’t pro-
vide us with clear-cut contents, abilities, and strategies to be
taught in such “postmodern curriculum”, but signal some new
posture or attitude towards our way of teaching, inviting us to
redesign our curricula in accordance to local specificities and
global demands.
In view of that, I share in the third section of this paper my
very own, localized curricular design which is founded by what
I have been calling a curricular attitude. Conceptually speaking,
postmodern principles are taken as its cornerstones. As for
methodological issues, instead of thinking of a “method”, I
favour the notion of attitude which is then based on critique and
I believe a critical perspective in education which would en-
able learners to actively engage in the various social practices is
paramount in today’s societies. When attempting to “interrupt”
the circulating narrative within the classroom through a critical
literacy approach, the notion of curricular attitude seeks to ex-
pand learners’ worldviews. As for the agency, such notion re-
lies on the transformative role of teachers (Kumaravadivelu,
ibid.; Morgan, ibid.) who, in the very small spaces within their
teaching contexts—the cracks so to speak (Duboc, 2012)—
would start putting into action new ways of knowing, being,
and acting. Such new ways would then be founded on a new
epistemological basis—a postmodern one—which embraces
different perspectives, multiple interpretations, and critical re-
In out-of-school literacy practices, many students find them-
selves in constant tension whenever they come up with differ-
ent responses, perspectives, and interpretations; it might be
interesting to take these very same elements as pre-condition to
a new way of learning at schools, a way that would invite stu-
6The title of the textbook has not been mentioned in the paper for copyright
7Video Kid meets his first gay couple available on <
com/wa tch?v=-4-UXtROdGo> Access September 25 2011.
Open Access 63
dents to critically reflect on who they are and what makes them
think the way they do in relation to who the other is and, like-
wise, what makes the other thinks the way he/she does. Such
critical exercise might not be self-evident in textbooks, course
plans or lesson plans, but might well emerge from the spaces
within the curriculum.
As stated by Kumaravadivelu in the very beginning of this
paper, post modernity might bring anxiety. Questionings of
practical nature have been recently rising such as: What is to be
taught at schools in order to respond to new demands? Which
contents, procedures, resources, and purposes are appropriate in
today’s curricula? What is the role of teachers towards educa-
tion and society? In order to answer these questions, a new
logic is needed—a logic of situatedness and heterogeneity—as
it is no longer possible for us to come up with one single an-
swer that would suit all educational contexts. By presenting my
local framework in the fourth section of this paper, I simply
intended to illustrate one possible attitude towards the curricu-
lum for other contexts, target groups, disciplines and the like
would surely require a different curricular attitude.
When discussing the need for certain epistemic breaks in the
realm of English teaching as an international language, Ku-
maravadivelu (2012) highlights the importance of teachers in
the process of breaking center-based knowledge systems. Simi-
larly, corroborating the relevance of teaching with attitude as
presented so far, Kalantzis and Cope (2008: p. 33) see teachers
as change-makers, whose quoted lines conclude this paper:
Educators need to be keen observers of change. This is the
only way we can keep our teaching, and our schools up to date
and relevant. But, more than this, we must be agenda-setters
and change-makers. We have the power to transform our
classrooms and our schools.
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