Language Ideologies and Curriculum Studies: An Empirical Approach to 'Worthwhile" Questions

Aria Razfar


For four decades critical modes of curriculum inquiry have inspired and informed new theoretical directions toward thinking about 'worthwhile' questions, Ideology and their relevance toward understanding social inequities and the educational disparity between dominant and non-dominant populations. However, in recent years, the viability and relevance of these modes of inquiry have been questioned on the basis of language accessibility and other 'practical' considerations which threaten to make curriculum inquiry as a field 'moribund.'  In this conceptual paper, I argue for a grounded approach to the 'worthwhile' questions and in particular the notion of Ideology in curriculum inquiry. More specifically, I propose the language ideologies (LI) approach as a way to foreground many of the 'worthwhile' questions surrounding Ideology in an empirical, hence more 'practical' manner through the prism of 'language' and its extension: discourse and narrative analysis. Using the discourse analytic approach afforded by LI, I illustrate my case with multiple vignettes from studies of classroom discourse, interviews with teachers about contested language issues (i.e. bilingual education & African American Vernacular), and historical debates surrounding the status of languages other than 'Standard' English in the United States.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

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