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It's in the Syllabus: National Narratives and Curricular Politics in Postcolonial Education

  • Author(s): Drew, Rachael Jordan
  • Advisor(s): Lezra, Esther
  • et al.
Abstract

Reviewing and reiterating the claim that curriculum content is inherently political and never neutral, this thesis explores the legacies of British colonization on Jamaican education by looking at education reforms and curriculum evolution to track the presence of culturally relevant classroom material in the Anglophone Caribbean. Both England and Jamaica have utilized education for re-constructing national identity and priorities as they negotiate historical narratives and canonized curriculum material when presented with the forces and processes of globalization. Syllabi from five secondary schools in Kingston, Jamaica are used for a case study. While the curriculum content in Jamaican secondary schools is now inclusive and culturally relevant, the education structure itself is a colonial vestige, in terms of the excessive standardized testing that tracks students into each grade level. While the canonization of previously excluded Caribbean authors into the curriculum by the Caribbean Examinations Council has effectively introduced culturally relevant course material, additional recommendations include cultivating a meta-curriculum, whereby teachers and students engage in classroom discussion about why and how the required curriculum material was selected, in order to better understand the political nature of curriculum choice and the ramifications it can have in terms of indoctrinating ideas about nationality, historical narratives, and identity.

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