Thinking with ‘lexical’ features to reconceptualize the ‘grammar’ of schooling: Shifting the focus from school to society
AuthorsCourtney, Steven J.; orcid: 0000-0003-2379-7035; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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AbstractAbstract: Achieving changes to education practices and structures is a significant issue facing reformers internationally, and researchers have confronted how such changes, and the conditions for these, might be conceptualized. These issues resonate particularly as researchers grapple with imagining a post-COVID-19 landscape where social and educational norms may change. Tyack and Tobin, in their 1994 article ‘The “Grammar” of Schooling: Why has it been so hard to change?’ argued that several features of the American education system are so persistent as to warrant being understood as the ‘grammar’ of schooling. In this article, we reconceptualize this ‘grammar’ by taking seriously Tyack and Tobin’s insistence that ‘grammar’ organises meaning. Starting here, we argue that what they took to be grammatical features are the products and not the producers of meaning. We draw on the cases of the United States and England to argue that four international discourses have performed this meaning-making work: industrialization; welfarism; neoliberalism and neoconservatism. These are the ‘grammars’ of schooling—and of society. Their discursive products, including age grading and sorting into subjects are, we suggest, ‘lexical’ features that express the grammar. We use lexical features to explain the multi-directional interplay between discourse and educational feature: the lexical may endure longer than the grammatical, changes to which may be effected and/or legitimated through appealing to a lexical feature. We conclude by outlining key implications for realizing and conceptualizing educational change, including for a post-COVID-19 landscape.
CitationJournal of Educational Change, volume 22, issue 3, page 401-421
DescriptionFrom Springer Nature via Jisc Publications Router
History: registration 2020-08-03, online 2020-08-13, pub-electronic 2020-08-13, pub-print 2021-08
Publication status: Published