Enhanced Teacher Agency in Concept-Based Curriculum Development

The preceding discussion of the insights gained from the Deleuzian perspective of learning and knowledge has important implications for the nature of teachers’ work in concept-based curricula. It points to enhanced teacher agency as the teacher figures out how to extend and transform learners’ concepts for deeper disciplinary knowledge. Developing concept-based curriculum presupposes the notion of a common desire and labour at promoting discovery and meaning-making, inherent in any creative activity, but which is now directed at classroom learning. Each teacher in developing competence in promoting conceptual understanding therefore must direct and facilitate the learners’ search for knowledge and meaning-making. Each teacher needs to accept and appreciate that developing conceptual understanding is less about arriving at a destination and more of ‘becoming’. Agency is called on when teachers work in a space that is between the poles of knowledge authority and thought freedom. Thus there is a credible change expected in the role of the teacher in designing and implementing the concept-based curricula.

Furthermore, using a concept-based approach to curriculum rests on teachers making the rhizomatic links in the subject matter and acting in the ‘experimental’ mode in the classroom. When developing concept-based curricula, each teacher and team will go through a detachment and reattachment process, whether psychological or cognitive, as they work through their own conceptualisation process. Such attachment and reattachment processes require the teacher to be actively connected to their learners and the discipline, which calls on deeper teacher agency. To be better proponents of concept-based learning, teachers must themselves be ready for thinking and acting in ‘experimental’ modes. In such an experimental mode, the teacher will focus on ‘becoming’ rather than merely (re)producing current states of understanding, both in themselves and the learner. Hence, in developing concept- based curricula, the teacher needs to think about how to keep learning ‘open’ rather than ‘closing up’ learning by expecting learners to simply accept the teachers’ knowledge authority. The concept-based curriculum development process therefore stimulates teacher agency as it calls on deeper considerations of their own disciplinary knowledge and greater teacher autonomy in providing spaces for learners to constantly interact with conceptualisations. The teacher agency in such a context also requires more networks and rhizomatic, rather than arboreal, connections. Hence, teacher agency itself transforms from one that is static to one that stimulates the people in the field of action—the students, other teachers and experts—through constant interaction.

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