Open Universities and Distance Universities in Europe. Two different educational perspectives in search for identity

Issue 5

“Open Universities and Distance Universities in Europe. Two different educational perspectives in search for identity”

Antonis Lionarakis
Page 91-115


The issue of cross-curricularity or cross curricular themes (CTC’s) is continuously being given extra attention in the contemporary educational discourse. In Greece cross-curricularity is a dominant parameter in the new Cross Thematic Curriculum (CTC) which has been published by the Hellenic Pedagogical Institute (HPI) in 2003. New educational material (textbooks and software) is being currently prepared for the implementation of this educational change. The core argument of the policy actors involved in the Greek curriculum reform is that this particular innovative change is a good curricular practice that would contribute to the further modernization of the compulsory schooling in Greece. It is also claimed that this intervention is based on the Greek educational context as well as on the European educational policy.In this paper we perform text analysis to the new Greek Cross Thematic Curriculum Framework and Syllabus Design (CTC) for compulsory education, within which there is the innovative programme of “The Flexible Zone” (at least two teaching hours per week during which students and teachers work on projects the themes of which they choose). For reasons of comparison we extend the specific analysis to the National Curriculum for England and Wales text. These curriculum texts are treated as policy texts that introduce important changes in the school practice, mainly through the adoption of a specifically defined cross-curricular approach to syllabus design. The literature on effective curriculum design is reviewed and used as a framework for the construction of the discursive categories along which the analysis is performed and the comparisons are made. These categories are summarized as follows:
i. Basic historical and organizational issues of the curricula in each country with emphasis on those used to promote change in education.
ii. The arguments used towards the introduction of the cross- curricular approach.
iii. The identification of the concept of cross- curricularity in the texts.
iv. The way that cross-curricular approaches are applied (systematic planning, variety, degrees of freedom and promotion of teacher and student initiative etc).
v. Supportive actions for schools and teachers.
Using the aforementioned framework, we compare the findings from the investigation of the Greek case to the ones from the investigation of the UK case. The issues identified in the analysis are finally presented in a comparative manner and show that the Greek CTC could be considered a good curriculum practice. It is found to influence in a pedagogically positive manner not only the content of the school knowledge and its organization, but the teaching methodologies and pupil assessment practices as well. As this change is still under way, research interest towards the investigation of the final context of practice and outcomes is very high. We argue that it is important to study the various supportive measures that are being taken towards this change together with what will be taking place in the school classrooms when the new educational material is introduced.