Human agency and the curriculum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is generally supposed that a curriculum should engage students with worthwhile knowledge, which requires an understanding of what it means for something to be worthwhile: a substantive conception of the good. Yet a number of influential curriculum theories deny or undermine one or another aspect of the key assumption upon which a meaningful account of the good depends - that people are the agents of their own beliefs, desires and actions. This renders a significant encounter between the curriculum and substantive ethics highly problematic. In this article I explore the meeting between curriculum and human agency in four seminal curriculum theories, and offer a framework to engage the curriculum with this key concept of substantive ethics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-369
Number of pages27
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • curriculum
  • ethics
  • good life
  • human agency
  • worthwhile knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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