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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Practical logic : curriculum structures in an adult education program St. Clair, William


This case study examines influences on the selection and delivery of knowledge in the employment preparation provision of a trade union in British Columbia. Bernstein's theories of curricular code and Bourdieu's perspectives on social and cultural capital are used to analyse data collected by interviews, observation, and documentary analysis. The emergent themes are organisational structure, pedagogic practice, diversity and difference, and the good employee ideal, with each of these demonstrating the tension between the philosophical orientation of the organisation, as a representative of the labour movement, and the demands of the funding and policy structures within which it operates. Analysis illustrates the way curriculum is shaped by forces external to the immediate educational setting, the most pervasive being the requirement to function as an effective means of transferring cultural and social capital to unemployed people. The possibility of using employment preparation as a mechanism to achieve progressive ends is severely limited by the need to acknowledge the priorities of funders, administrators, learners, and the neo-liberal backdrop against which the programs operate. The study implies approaches to curriculum emphasising decisions taken by instructors and learners mask wider structural influences on knowledge formation, and more research on the sociology of knowledge in adult education is called for.

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