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Currere Cymru: How can autobiographical curriculum theorising enhance teachers’ curriculum work in Wales?

27 February 2024
An image representing the stages of the currere method

The Future of Educational Research in Wales

During my tenure as a Council Member (2015-2020) for the British Educational Research Association (BERA), I worked closely with Professor Gary Beauchamp, a fellow council member representing Wales, and the Welsh Government in organising the Future of Educational Research in Wales conference on November 14, 2018. It had been three years since Successful Futures (Donaldson 2015) introduced the new curriculum for Wales framework, and this conference provided a platform for researchers and educators to engage in national and international discussions of the new curriculum framework, and what might be needed and/or possible for the future of educational research and practice in Wales.

Complicated Conversations

During the event, representatives from Welsh Government discussed the National Strategy For Educational Research and Enquiry (NSERE), an initiative intended to enhance research capacity in Wales and ensure that Welsh educational policy and practice is informed by high-quality research conducted by both researchers and practitioners. One key aspect of this strategy are the four Collaborative Research Networks (CRNs), each focusing on a specific theme:

  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Leadership and Professional Learning
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Bilingual Education and Welsh Language

The membership of each CRN includes educational researchers from a variety of disciplinary and methodological backgrounds, educators with rich and varied backgrounds in educational theory and practice, and an array of educational stakeholders with distinctive insights into, and experiences of, the Welsh educational landscape.

Currere Cymru

As a member of the Curriculum and Pedagogy CRN, I’m currently leading the Currere Cymru project in collaboration with colleagues from Aberystwyth University, the Open University in Wales, and Cardiff Metropolitan University. The Currere Cymru project seeks to answer how curriculum theorising can help support teachers’ engagement with, and understanding, of curriculum.

The word ‘curriculum’ originates from Latin, meaning ‘a course to be run.’ Currere, however, is the infinite-verb form that simply means ‘to run.’ In the mid-1970s, William Pinar proposed a reconceptualisation of curriculum by changing the emphasis from the examination of syllabi, courses, objectives, and outcomes, to a focus on phenomenological, existential, and experiential dimensions of the lived curriculum (Pinar 1994­­). In other words, rather than fixating on a course to be run, Currere focuses on the running of the course.

As a reconceptualisation of curriculum, Currere privileges concepts such as experience (Dewey 1938), relationships (Noddings 2013), and practitioners’ personal practical knowledge (Clandinin 1985; Connelly and Clandinin 1985, 1997; Willinsky 1989) as resources to be nurtured, developed, examined, and shared, with the outcomes of these activities culminating in novel understandings and conceptualisations of curriculum that inform the educational experiences teachers hope to experience with their pupils.

These cogent statements of curricular understanding are generated through four stages of creative, critical self-reflection and examination emerging from phenomenological and existential philosophy and psycho-analytic techniques:

  • The Regressive—remembering/restorying indelible educational experiences from our past
  • The Progressive—imagining and generating aspirations for educational experiences in our future
  • The Analytic—analysing and comprehending meaningful experiences of our current educational practice
  • The Synthetic—constructing new “knowings”—ways of understanding, being, and acting that enable us to better understand curriculum as a phenomenon that we live and experience

Simply put, Currere is intended to transform simple and often assumed understandings of, and associations with, curriculum into ‘complicated conversations’ (Pinar 2019) that are both political processes for identifying and negotiating values, as well as attempts to locate, recognise, and understand how our subjective experience as educators/learners (Freire, 2005) contributes to our curricular work. Often, these efforts are organized around specific aims, such as the actualisation of socially-just and/or transformative education (Williams et al 2020; Baszile 2017, 2023), the achievement of agency (Smith 2022) or, and this is especially relevant to teachers in Wales, the realisation of one’s pedagogical and professional identity (Gibbs 2014, Roofe 2022, Kanu 2006, Kohza 2023).

The project began with a reflection-retreat in Aberystwyth in June 2023. We were joined by my colleague, mentor and friend Tom Poetter, Professor in curriculum studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and throughout the weekend, we engaged in focused, purposeful and, at times, soulful deliberations on making curriculum in this new era of Welsh education. Currently, teams of researchers and practitioners are preparing to submit their work for publication. Here’s a list of the themes/topics they’re writing about:

  • Academic identity and belonging
  • Cultural and linguistic identities and practice at school
  • Place, pedagogy and curriculum
  • Acceptance
  • Curriculum theory in initial teacher education
  • Professional learning, curriculum making and change

I am thrilled to lead this project and to collaborate with excellent colleagues across Wales. To my knowledge, this is the first Currere project in Wales and the first time Currere findings will be published in both English and Welsh. Equally important, Currere offers teachers in Wales an approach to curriculum theory and theorising that is grounded in the knowledge, experience, and interactions derived through their educational praxis that can illuminate, elucidate, and extend their understanding(s) of curriculum.


Baszile, D.T. 2017. On the virtues of currere. Currere Exchange Journal, 1(1).

Baszile, D.T. 2023. Toward a Black Feminist Aesthetic in Curriculum Theorizing: Pieces of a collage. In Hendry, P., Quinn, M., Mitchell, W. and Bach, J. Curriculum Histories in Place, in Person, in Practice. The Louisiana State University Curriculum Theory Project. London: Routledge.

Clandinin, D.J., 1985. Personal practical knowledge: A study of teachers’ classroom images. Curriculum inquiry, 15(4), pp.361-385.

Connelly, F.M. and Clandinin, D.J., 1985. Chapter X: Personal Practical Knowledge and the Modes of Knowing: Relevance for Teaching and Learning. Teachers College Record, 86(6), pp.174-198.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & Education. New York: Touchstone.

Donaldson, G., 2015. Successful futures: independent review of curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales. Welsh Government.

Freire, P. 2005. Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed., M. Bergman Ramos, Trans.). New York: Continuum.

Gibbs, P., 2014. The phenomenology of professional practice: a currere. Studies in Continuing Education, 36(2), pp.147-159.

Kanu, Y. and Glor, M. 2006. ‘Currere’ to the rescue? Teachers as ‘amateur intellectuals’ in a knowledge society. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 4(2), pp.101-122.

Khoza, S.B., 2023. Can teachers’ identities come to the rescue in the fourth industrial revolution?. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 28(2), pp.843-864.

Noddings, N. 2013. Caring. A relational approach to ethics and moral education 2e updated. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Pinar, W.F., 2019. What is curriculum theory?. London: Routledge.

Pinar, W. 1994. The Method of “Currere”. Counterpoints, 2, pp.19-27.

Smith, K., 2022. Ambulare. Currere Exchange Journal, 6(1), pp.107-115.

Williams, K.T.E., Baszile, D.T. and Guillory, N.A. eds., 2020. Black women theorizing curriculum studies in colour and curves. London: Routledge.

Willinsky, J., 1989. Getting personal and practical with personal practical knowledge. Curriculum inquiry, 19(3), pp.247-264.