Understanding Curriculum as a Polyphonic Text: Curriculum Theorizing in the midst of Standardization


  • Jeong-Hee Kim
  • Deborah Abernathy


We live with the language of standards and standardization. This paper is a collaborative curriculum theorizing effort between a teacher educator and a high school teacher in the era of standardization. In this article, drawing upon narrative inquiry and the Bakhtinian notion of polyphony, we challenge the domination of the meta-narrative of standardization that works as an official force and explore possibilities of understanding curriculum as a polyphonic text. We argue that curriculum as a polyphonic text requires that different voices be heard without having one voice privileged over the others, producing no final, complete truth, thus promoting a genuine dialogue among stakeholders to improve curriculum.


Author Biographies

Jeong-Hee Kim

Jeong-Hee Kim is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Kansas State University’s College of Education. Her research and scholarship centers on phenomenological ways of understanding students’ and teachers’ lived experiences grounded in narrative inquiry and hermeneutical phenomenology. Her scholarship has appeared in Journal of Curriculum Studies, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and Educational Philosophy and Theory.

Deborah Abernathy

Deborah Abernathy is a graduate student in Curriculum and Instruction working on her doctorate in Secondary Mathematics Education at Kansas State University. Her research interests include postmodern understanding of curriculum and the application of Deweyan thinking to Project Based Learning. Deb combines the experiences of twenty-six years in the classroom with her coursework in Curriculum and Instruction to inform her research and practice.