Does Knowledge Matter? Disciplinary Identities and Students’ Readiness for University

  • Graham J. McPhailEmail author


There is no doubt cultural and technological changes in the late 20th century and beyond have had profound effects on what counts as knowledge and what knowledge counts both at school and at university. This paper considers some implications of a disjuncture identified by Gould (The New Zealand Herald, 2010) between the curricula and pedagogy experienced in the secondary school and that at the university. Utilising three research studies that deal with the problem of students’ readiness for tertiary study I consider the importance of disciplinary knowledge in the identity formation of students within the current neo-liberal environment. By using Bernstein’s concepts of recontextualisation, trainability, and pedagogic populism I suggest the current instrumentalist emphasis in secondary education runs the risk of undermining a core purpose of education, the development of dispositions and qualities that are by-products of a deep engagement with disciplinary ways of knowing.


Knowledge Curriculum Pedagogy Secondary school University Transition 


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Copyright information

© New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Senior Lecturer, School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of EducationUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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