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Outcomes Based - Aesthetics?: Reflections over aesthetic communication and outcomes based learning based on a study of six syllabi
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Teaching and Learning in the Humanities (CeHum).
2014 (English)In: English Teaching: Practice and Critique, ISSN 1175-8708, Vol. 13, no 2, 19-34 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Outcomes-based curricula have become the global norm in the last decennia. School authorities have more or less left behind their old habits of either forcing upon teachers a set of content to teach and methods to use, or leaving teachers alone because they trust their professional knowledge to choose what is best for their learners. The current gospel is different – to preach to teachers what the learner is supposed to have learned after a certain amount of schooling. The teacher is responsible for leading the student to this predefined set of knowledge or skills, whilst students and their parents have become the customers, and the teacher the waiter who facilitates the desired learning prepared by the chef – Mr Jurisdiction.

In their last book, What is Philosophy, Deleuze and Guattari discuss how science, philosophy and art have different tasks in the construction of knowledge. Whilst the three are considered complimentary to the human quest to develop knowledge, what is most important is that knowledge is not something that is, but something that becomes – just as human beings are in a condition of constant becoming. The way knowledge or insight becomes is different for science, philosophy and art. Science’ role is to;demarcate, pull apart, test and reconstruct current knowledge and phenomena in order to develop new knowledge. Philosophy’s role, on the other hand, is to question truths and invent and present new terms in order to create new possibilities for the human imagination to understand their being in the world, whilst art’s role is to construct the world anew. The arts present a new holistic version of (or at least parts of) the world so as to help us understand our being in unforeseen ways through their appeal to the complete set of human faculties for perception, processing and possibly bypassing narrow expectations.

So what does this ontological backdrop have to do with outcomes-based curricula? Educational science has not considered knowledge to comprise a set of objects for a very long time. Rather, in all theories of teaching and learning, knowledge is considered to be a series of socially or psychologically developed constructs. The idea that the knowledge outcomes of an education should be predefined so as to ensure maximum quality can consequently be considered to be the antithesis of an education based on educational science. This article questions outcomes-based learning as a viable system for formal education through the study of the syllabi for English as a second language and that earning the mother tongue in the three Nordic countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which have all introduced new syllabi in the last ten years following the introduction of outcomes-based logic. These syllabi will be analysed from the theoretical framework of aesthetic communication developed by Ketil Thorgersen and Cecilia Ferm Thorgersen. Aesthetic communication is an attempt to transcend the division between sender and receiver that theories of multimodality and multiliteracy suffer from, and also to take into account the existential aspects of the arts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 13, no 2, 19-34 p.
Keyword [en]
Aesthetics, Nordic syllabuses, Language education, Curriculum studies, aesthetic communication, language education, outcomes-based learning
National Category
Didactics Educational Sciences
Research subject
Educational Sciences in Arts and Professions
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107533ISI: 000345302200003OAI: diva2:748198
Available from: 2014-09-18 Created: 2014-09-18 Last updated: 2015-01-02Bibliographically approved

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