EDEV_504 Week 3_3

Thanks for responding to my questions. In addition, you offer many more. Please forgive me if I treat them as rhetorical as I’d like to explain why I don’t think Barnett is taking about equity.

On reading and re-reading Barnett (2009), I don’t share your sense that the article speaks about equity. It’s certainly true that Barnett does mention equity once in the text and the paper itself is in the week 3 ‘widening participation’ reading list. Against this, Shay, Ashwin and Case (2009) in their introduction to the 2009 thematic issue of Studies in Higher Education in categorise Barnett’s contribution as one concerned with “knowledge and curriculum” (p. 374), a lead paper which in turn is responded to by Luckett (2009), who problematises Barnett’s notion of knowledge as privileging certain “kinds of knowledge and knower structures” (Shay et al., 2009, p. 374). Luckett’s article is concerned with equity more than Barnett’s.

Thesen (2009) articulates why Barnett’s position may lead to inequity. Drawing on the work of Lea and Street (1998), Thesen suggests the possibility that “academic socialisation” (Thesen, 2009, p. 391) threatens wider participation by viewing the “university as a homogeneous space” (ibid.). Lea and Street go further by describing the “acculturation of students into academic discourse (Lea & Street, 1998, p. 172), in the academy “whose norms and practices have simply to be learnt to provide access to the whole institution” (p.159). Difference is shunned in favour of a monolithic model.

What is interesting from the point of view of this week’s discussion is that the same article may be read in two opposing ways. Barthes’ “The death of the author” (1967) comes to mind in a post-modernist free-for-all. The critical message being that in the subject-object divide, the object is drowned in a sea of subject-side assumptions. Fishing those out again is a fascinating task.


Barnett, R. (2009). Knowing and becoming in the higher education curriculum. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 429–440. doi:10.1080/03075070902771978

Barthes, R. (1967). The death of the author. UbuWeb Papers. Retrieved from http://www.tbook.constantvzw.org/wp-content/death_authorbarthes.pdf

Lea, M. R., & Street, B. V. (1998). Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), 157–172. doi:10.1080/03075079812331380364

Luckett, K. (2009). The relationship between knowledge structure and curriculum: a case study in sociology. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 441–453. doi:10.1080/03075070902772018

Shay, S., Ashwin, P., & Case, J. (2009). A critical engagement with research into higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 373–375. doi:10.1080/03075070902771879

Thesen, L. (2009). Researching “ideological becoming” in lectures: challenges for knowing differently. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 391–402. doi:10.1080/03075070902771929

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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