Conflicting Discourses on Content Reduction in South Korea’s National Curriculum

  •  Kyunghee So    
  •  Jiyoung Kang    


This study examines the discourses on content reduction of South Korea’s national curriculum shaped by policymakers and subject specialists, as well as compares the two discourses to uncover the differences between the two. For this purpose, the paper collected academic articles that discuss the issue of content reduction from the past thirty years and analyzed the statements enunciated in the articles. The resulting analysis shows that the policymakers’ discourse tends to rely on inconclusive evidence to diagnose the problems in content reduction. Additionally, the discourse reveals that policymakers impose subject specialists to monolithic and coercive guidelines, while using a quantitative approach that emphasizes measurable and demonstrable figures. On the other hand, the discourse of subject specialists reveals certain differences. The specialists adopt a strategy of ignoring and rejecting the policymakers’ guidelines by pretending to accept them; they instead emphasize the distinctiveness of each subject and value a qualitative approach to diagnose/solve the issue of content reduction. Based on these results, this paper suggests that the differences between the two discourses have been shaped by an underlying temporal and spacious condition of developing South Korea’s national curriculum. This paper ends with the argument that there should be an effort by policymakers and subject specialists to understand the discourse of ‘the other’; they should also establish an institutional environment that encourages mutual understanding between the two stakeholders.

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