Modern Schooling and the Curriculum of the Body

Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter argues that the myriad of formal and informal operations of modern schooling organized around the bodies of children represent the curriculum of the body. Curriculum is understood to encompass not just the content or transmission of formal syllabuses, but rather a whole range of teaching and learning that goes on, both in accordance with and despite the stated or unstated objectives of schoolteachers and other authorities. The historical period treated by the chapter begins in the nineteenth century, a period during which mass schooling gained international traction and in which the imperatives of public health were becoming increasingly systematized. Five thematic groupings are identified to describe the diverse range of technologies and practices that constitute the curriculum of the body in modern schooling: (1) the school as clinic; (2) formal curriculum and sports; (3) architecture and spatialization; (4) classroom pedagogies and disciplinary practices; and (5) clothing the student body. Drawing on scholarly analyses across a variety of national settings, each theme demonstrates how the curriculum of the body was shaped by the broader values and norms governing particular nation-states or regions at particular points in time. They also highlight the key authorities and dominant bodies of knowledge instrumental in establishing childhood during the schooling ages as a period of physical vulnerability in need of management.


Curriculum of the body Mass schooling Childhood School as clinic 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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