The inflexibility of flexible curriculum: a critical discourse analysis of Aceleración del Aprendizaje.

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The Aceleración del Aprendizaje curriculum was adopted by the Ministry of National Education as part of its educational policy to serve vulnerable populations, which include indigenous and minority groups, people with special needs, children and adolescents at social risk (e.g. working children, children/adolescents out of the educational system), groups affected by violence (children in armed groups, displaced people), and rural populations (MEN, 2005). In this study, I investigate the Aceleración del Aprendizaje curriculum by using critical discourse analysis (CDA). I offer a discussion on how “flexibility” is discursively constructed within the curriculum, what policy rationalities and assumptions underlie the learning materials, and how Aceleración del Aprendizaje’s students and teachers are constructed and situated as subjects with and through the discourse on flexible programs. Major study findings consist of three schemes -script-based curriculum, project-based curriculum, and flexibility- that act as ideological markers in the discourses that inform how flexibility is represented as a feature of Aceleración del Aprendizaje. The scripted curriculum, the project-based curriculum, and the flexibility of this curriculum are oriented towards the goal of ensuring students enrollment. Other significant findings consist of an institutional analysis which explains that this curriculum was not originally developed from a demand of the Colombian constitutional and legal framework. This program became a solution to expand access and promote enrollment derived from international influence. This CDA poses questions regarding how the Aceleración del Aprendizaje curriculum removes barriers to access, and the compatibility of overemphasizing enrollment to ensuring quality education. Finally, I propose recommendations for policy-makers and future research directions.

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