Curricular policies and flexibility – anathemas and beliefs

Revisiting the social role of the school curriculum




School’s autonomy, Curriculum flexibility, Curriculum decision levels, Curriculum deli­beration, Curriculum mana­ge­ment


This paper discusses some issues and concepts within the current curriculum debate in both a diachronic and international perspective. Recent curriculum changes have been mostly determined by massification of student bodies, bringing into the school system a  variety of social and cultural backgrounds. From the point of view of this analysis, the concept of flexibility is critical in this discussion as it explains the long‑term change of policies from 1990 on, with respect to levels of curriculum decision, namely the articulation between national level responsible for establishing the common core, and local level responsible for adapting curriculum to micro-social contexts. The author refers to this dialectic as curriculum binomial. Contributions from both curriculum research and international macro‑policies are mobilized, in order to clarify the response in our time to the classic curriculum question; What is worth to learn – and therefore to teach – in formal educational systems, so that they may meet the needs of our time, and why? In line with this problematization, we propose an analysis of Portuguese curriculum changes after the implementation of school massification (after the 1960s) and synthesize key‑concepts in international recommendations. Finally, we discuss some implications of this process for teachers and schools.


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