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South African Journal of Education

On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100

S. Afr. j. educ. vol.31 n.3 Pretoria Jan. 2011




Understanding how we understand girls' voices on cultural and religious practices: toward a curriculum for justice



Petro du Preez*; Shan Simmonds*




It is imperative to take account of the many faces of justice when exploring the elements of a curriculum for justice. Justice is not only about equity, equality and fairness, but about creating spaces where people can learn to prioritise a significant Other and practise doing so. The curriculum needs to provide a space where the legal, restorative face of justice and its ethical face could coincide. Firstly, we argue that a sole focus on justice as reasonableness might reinforce the notion of "separate but equal", and that through a leveling of difference, we might opaquely strengthen difference without an inclination to care deeply for those whose background might differ from ours. Secondly, we argue that the legal and ethical faces of justice are not mono-tonal, but that these faces constitute many complexions based on the body holding it (or the person who attempts to make sense of these faces). In this article we will attempt to understand how we make sense of girls' voices on cultural and religious practices. Weimaginethat understanding how we understand Others might place us in a better position to provide guidelines to develop curriculum spaces for profound justice; i.e. justice that is based on reasonableness and, more importantly, on care.

Keywords: caring curriculum; critical discourse analysis; girls' narratives; justice; null curriculum; unconscious curriculum




Young (2007:95) argues that "[s]ocial justice... requires not the melting away of differences, but institutions that promote reproduction of and respect for group difference without oppression". This suggests that education institutions, for example, should acknowledge difference and mediate justice in unique ways, characterised by care and fairness. Historically such a research endeavour might typically be approached by "... studying the self and the desire to 'give voice' to others" (Cary, 2007:2). However, what we will aim to do is to "... understand how we know Others...". According to Cary (2007:3-4), this is the more desirable way to conduct a curriculum enquiry, since it acknowledges the crisis of representation such as the belief that we might fully represent Others. To embark on and facilitate such a curriculum enquiry, we will consider the questions Noddings (1999:7) proposes worthy of consideration when it comes to understanding justice in terms of education. We will pose these questions and briefly respond to elements in them to clarify our position of the notion of justice in education. These opening discussions will also pave the way for the arguments that follow.

Our arguments are based on the premise that schools and classrooms are micro representations of society in which relationships between people are significant and thus represent a potential space for deontological virtues to unfold. The virtues embraced by deontology may be described as selflessness, the moral duty and obligation of one person towards another [Kant, 1724-1804], or a state of mind during which a person does what s/he ought to do in a given situation [Aquinas, 1225-1274] (Zajda, 2006:1). The virtues of deontology could be summarised as follows: justice as a moral construct and obligation that demands both a caring disposition and a reasonable character.

We would respond to Noddings' (1999:7) first question - "To what degree should a concept of justice guide educational policy-making?" - by arguing that a concept of justice should always guide education activities, but that the particular concept of justice (or the face of justice) will differ from one context to the next. This is based on the historical, cultural and religious background of the education context. This viewpoint necessitates that we then consider: "What concept of justice should be used? Is justice (however we construe it) adequate as a moral orientation for educational planning? If not, can caring compensate for some of the inadequacies?" (Noddings, 1999:7). To make such enquiry possible, we will address the following question: To what extent, if any, could girls' voices regarding their experiences of religious and cultural practices assist us in expanding our conceptions of justice in support of a curriculum based on profound justice?

To facilitate this enquiry, we will explore the notion of justice as reasonable and justice as care as in line with various feminist theorists. The diversity of feminist theories and nuances (Cudd & Andreasen, 2007) enables us to create conceptions of justice that are not monoculturally and linearly delineated, but that represents the diversity in the world (Zajd, 2006). Feminism is appropriate for this study that aims to sensitise us to and thus help us understand how we comprehend girls' voices. This is because feminism is mainly concerned with raising "women's consciousness about their situation in a male-dominated society and to construct avenues of greater freedom of choice for women" (Gutek, 2009:167). Research done by the Harvard psychologist, Carol Gilligan, has indicated that women's language and discoursediffer considerably from that of men (Baier, 2007:245). This renders even more credence to a study that aims to develop insight into how two female researchers understand girls' voices which represents a variety of cultural and religious groups. After explaining the conceptions of justice, an anecdotal selection of narrative data, that was obtained from girls in a particular setting, will be analysed and discussed using critical discourse analysis (Cary, 2007:15). These discussions will also be related to the theoretical explorations. The results will be used to allow alternative ways of thinking about a curriculum for justice that can address gender-related injustices in culturally and religiously diverse contexts.


Justice, care and reasonableness

Noddings (1999:7) refers to the debate about care versus justice, first popularised by Carol Gilligan, in which care is usually associated with womens' standpoints and justice with the standpoints of men. We would argue that this fallacious debate stereotypes women; depending on the theoretical nuance of feminism they subscribe to, they might embrace either of the standpoints. Additionally, we would like to suggest that justice and care do not stand in opposition to one another (cf. Strike, 1999:29): care is deeply imbedded in justice, in the same way as reasonableness. For that reason, we would propose the use of the notions justice as reasonable and/or justice as care. These two arguments will be expanded next.

Justice as reasonableness

The notion of justice as reasonableness is conceptually closely related to the method of distributing benefits justly, for example distributive justice, and to the procedures of determining what benefits are to be received, for example, procedural justice (Johnson & Johnson, 2008:212). This conception of justice is mainly libertarian in nature and stresses equity, equality, and the needs of people (Johnson & Johnson, 2008:212). This restorative view of justice is extremely important in rectifying injustices in any particular community, but care should be taken that strategic actions taken in the name of justice do not give rise to injustice. Johnson and Johnson (2008:213) argue that when injustice occurs it might lower the morale of a social group, lead to high levels of conflict, and create low levels of productivity. When unjust procedures are systematised through strategic actions, oppression might ensue (Young, 2007).

In a chapter, Toward a Humanist Justice, Okin (2007:404) argues that "the sooner all social differentiation between the sexes vanishes, the better it will be for all of us". Although acknowledging that religious and cultural traditions in many instances make this ideal impossible, Okin (2007:404), takes the libertarian perspective that justice is mainly a means of restoration that aims at fairness. This perspective has some validity: as mentioned earlier, it creates ways to strategically address injustices. However, a view that aims at 'melting away differences' might be problematic in our view because it reduces (and even disregards) the innate biological and sociological differences of social groups; making justice a very superficial notion. Okin (2007:407) quotes Amy Gutmann's research that reveals that schools reflect and perpetuate gender inequality and injustice. Such inequalities and injustice may lead to prolonged exploitation and marginalisation of women which, arguably, perpetuate social issues such as abuse against women. Drawing on Gutmann's research, Okin (2007:407) makes several suggestions on rethinking knowledge in the formal and hidden curriculum, so as to enable children to become aware of gender inequality and discrimination in the formal and hidden curriculum. This existentialist notion has at its core the identification of conditions of repression and the exposure of ideological factors that justify it (Gutek, 2009:119). One may rightly question, albeit provocatively, whether a purposive focus on gender inequality and injustice in the curriculum from such a perspective might not perpetuate differentiation between the sexes. In this regard Bernasconi ([1993] in Cary, 2007:6) asserts that "[d]irect opposition often serves to confirm what it seeks to put into question by agreeing to operate within circumscribed limits which leave the system intact...".

Okin (2007:405 & 408) also contends with the "traditionalist positions" [sic] - those who value the differences between the sexes - using Rawls's notion of the original position which is based on "constructing relations between the sexes that could be agreed upon". Firstly, we would like to comment on the use of the concept "traditionalist positions". To our understanding, this suggests that whatever is traditional is outdated, fixed and even less valued. Secondly, we would argue that negotiating agreed upon relations might be problematic. Systematic injustice towards any group suggests or results from an asymmetrical relation between an oppressed group and a privileged group (Young, 2007:95). This asymmetrical relation may be enforced by a privileged group in obvious, subtle and opaque ways, which could inhibit the construction of agreed upon relations. The point is that in this process both parties become alienated from social justice (Gutek, 2009:119).

Our main argument is that justice that is only understood in a framework of reasonableness may become very superficial in that it only address obvious forms of injustice, often claiming justice, but that profound levels of injustice, perpetuated by societal conditions, remain untouched. This leads us to the following question: How reasonable is justice then? Should we not expand our understanding of justice - particularly justice in the curriculum - to address subtle and opaque forms of injustice that are less easy to recognise and often harder to address as a result of societal conditions that inhibit their being addressed? Gutek (2009:119) argues that "oppression [and social injustice] has a human face no matter how well it is hidden within a system". Our contention is that a curriculum for justice should allow a space where diverse peoples could meet with the common aim of understanding how they understand Others in an attempt to expose the oppressing human faces hidden in societal systems. Such orientation cannot rely only on fairness as a determinant of justice, but necessitates deeper understandings of justice. In this regard, Noddings (1999:14-15) contends "that care-talk enriches the initially narrow insights of justice" in that it does not only draw our attention to the unfairness of a situation, but cautions us to acknowledge the Other whose "aspirations, interests, talents, and legitimate values may differ from our own".

Justice as care

A conception of justice as care is deeply embedded in the care theorist framework that argues that the moral decisions people make are based on their affective and intellectual understanding of a situation that requires them to respond to their caring self and to prioritise the Other when making such decisions. Care in this context is therefore not only occupied with the act of caring for someone else, but is also responsive to the ways in which the cared-for responds. According to Noddings and Slote (2005:345), care theorists aim to sensitise people to consult their constructed caring self in the absence of a spontaneous inclination to care in situations where injustice may prevail. Responding to injustice in a caring manner necessitates moral interdependence and the avoidance of self-righteousness (Noddings & Slote, 2005:346). For this reason, care theorists would methodologically promote dialogue and persuasion when matters of injustice must be addressed (Noddings, 1999:13). Justice as care suggests 'pathos': "solidarity with [O]ther human beings who deserve happiness and recognition. It is not the faculty of reason which moves us to act without duty, but neither is it a mere irrational feeling. Rather, it is an affection... " (Ruiz, 2004:283). Justice as care is thus not only a matter of reason, but equally belongs to the faculty of affection. A care perspective does not altogether reject liberalism (Noddings, 1999:19), but has a stronger orientation towards communitarianism (Baier, 2007:244): it recognises and focuses on the individual in relation to the group by rejecting false universalism which aims to level out difference.

Noddings (1999:12&16) states that a curriculum based on care necessitates a differentiated approach that caters for the needs of diverse learners and is one that is based on the conditions of caring. A curriculum for justice in this context is thus not only a curriculum based on fairness, but one that constitutes spaces for caring and prioritising a significant Other. Prioritising an Other acknowledges that people are inherently different and that a melting away of difference is not an option.

Some may argue that conceptions of justice should be based on universal principles so as to avoid moral pluralism. However, we agree with Strike (1999:36) who argues that moral pluralism has the potential to assist in promoting tolerance and reciprocity, whilst assisting in dealing with complex moral issues. From the discussion thus far it is clear that justice as care is a more relativist approach that rejects false universalism. The question then is: to what extent could a conception of justice as care assist one to reveal hidden forms of injustice in the curriculum, for instance? We take the view that the strength of justice as care lies in its relativist underpinning. Du Preez (2009:108) and Hepburn (2003:244) argue that relativism provides one with the opportunity to consider a variety of views or options, and to commit oneself to diverse views with due regard for one's own beliefs, through a process of wellinformed decision-making. We would extend this argument stating that if the curriculum is designed to include relativism resulting from diversity, instead of being based on universal principles only, it might create spaces in which people could affectively experience the variety of ways in which significant Others represents themselves and their life-worlds. As mentioned, the focus is thus not only on caring, but on the ways the cared-for responds. Affective experience and understanding facilitates delving deeper into the obvious in an attempt to reveal opaque traces of injustice, for instance. In an attempt to explore a differentiated approach, we argue that relativism - the basis of care - is a prerequisite for a curriculum for justice. This is because it renders opportunities for people to explore diversity and to reveal opaque societal messages. In addition, such a differentiated approach to curriculum is nested upon nurturance and profound relationships (Strike, 1999:21).

Based on the theoretical discussions above, a curriculum for justice requires a differentiated approach that is firmly based on a conception of justice as care. Such an approach necessitates that curriculum design not only focuses on obvious injustices and elements of restorative and distributive justice, but also requires a design that allows profound exploration into often taken for granted matters addressed in the curriculum. In this sense the curriculum should become a space where significant Others could come together to dialogue relativist notions that arise from societal diversity. This might create opportunities for people to understand how they understand and know a significant Other.


Narrative analysis: methodological and epistemological considerations for understanding how we understand girls' voices

In addition to our theoretical attempts to develop a conception of curriculum for justice, we will explore how discourses embedded in girls' voices about their religious and cultural practices might expand our conception. Our aim is not to 'give a voice' and only to use these voices to enrich our understandings. Instead, our aim is to explore the processes related to understanding how we construe the discourses embedded in these girls' voices. This requires not only an analysis of girls' narratives, but also a critical reflection on the methodological and epistemological process of analysing narratives and on our (often skewed) attempts to represent the voices of Others.

Approaches and methods

Narratives provide the space for people to make sense of an experience as well as create and communicate meaning through their stories (Chase, 2003:79; Elliot, 2005:6). The narratives to be discussed in this article emanate from two pilot studies of an international project funded bySANPAD (South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development) entitled Human Rights Education in Diversity: Empowering girls in rural and metropolitan school environments. The overall aim of the project is to empower girls through human rights education in diverse school environments to respond to subtle and noticeable discrimination emanating from cultural, religious and traditional practices. Although the main aim of the larger SANPAD project is to empower girls, we acknowledge the rhetoric of representation and that it is not possible to represent and empower a significant Other. It does, however, enable us to understand how we understand girls' voices.

In line with our earlier arguments, we have worked from the same premise as Cary (2007:3-4) who explains that "... by studying how we know (the relationship between the knower and the known), we can do a better job of interrupting exclusionary practices (reform movements and mandated educational change) and even provide possibilities for resisting the consumption and reduction of the Others". The methodology required was a critical, deconstructivist reading of narratives that enables unraveling meaning-making processes and disclosing the position of a researcher as an act of knowing (Cary, 2007:3-4). The narratives are therefore analysed using critical discourse analysis.

We subscribe largely to Cary's (2007) work, but have felt the need to refine the process of critical discourse analysis to better account for the process of analysing the discourses embedded in the narratives and analysing this process from the position of the researcher. Therefore, we firstly identify the main discourses in the narrative, secondly interpret the discourses in relation to the hegemonic discourses in society, thirdly discuss the discourses in relation to theory, fourthly disrupt any essentialist notions in the discourses, and fifthlyask how these narratives disrupt our own ways of knowing.

The narrative process and (con)text

Girls from Setswana, Zulu, English and Afrikaans cultural backgrounds were the participants in this study. They were purposefully selected to represent different economic, cultural, religious and social circumstances. As the research study is investigating human rights education in diverse environments, 24 girls aged between 10 and 13 from two schools in North-West Province (Potchefstroom region) provided a sufficiently diverse network to conduct the research. Ethical considerations were metbyrequesting the North-West Department of Education and the North-West University ethics committee to review our research process and method. Furthermore, school principals, parents of the girls participating and the girls themselves were asked to formally give consent to participation in the research. Each girl was then asked to write a narrative in the form of a diary entry in response to the following narrative question: In your diary write about the religious and cultural practices of girls in your family and community. Write about those practices that make you feel good and those practices that make you feel not happy or sad (uncomfortable). In terms of the context, one should also mention hegemonic social issues that might have framed many of these girls' narratives. These include: HIV/Aids, poverty, alcohol abuse, child-headed households, arranged marriages, uncritical conforming to tradition, unwanted pregnancies and abusive environments.

The epistemological positioning of the researchers

The matter of positioning and situatedness is central to feminist discourses (Greene & Griffiths, 2005). Cary (2007:50-54) also discusses this matter, but argues that merely positioning oneself in terms of the obvious, for instance white and privileged, is not enough. She states that this is a "... 'quick and easy' fix to the problem of responsibility" in postpositivist enquiry (Cary, 2007:50). What she argues for is a revelation of epistemological assumptions that can shape the research process, including the selection of a research topic, the questions one asks and the conclusions one draws (Cary, 2007:53). We also need to investigate how the narratives of Others may disrupt our ways of knowing.

Thus, we would describe ourselves as curriculum theorists and teacher-researchers who are care orientated in that we seek solutions and aim to help significant Others. Epistemologically this requires us to acknowledge diverse ways of knowing, i.e. to have a relativist disposition. It also requires us to realise that we cannot fully represent the viewpoints and social contexts of Others and that our caring disposition might not be very helpful if we do not acknowledge our inability to 'give a voice' to Others. Our caring disposition often leads us to explore the variety of feminist theories to frame our work.


Understanding how we understand the principal discourses in the girls' narratives

Cary (2007:21) criticises the simplistic methods of data analysis in postpositivist research that reduces complex matters to neatly packed themes and codes. She argues that we should rather holistically view narratives and identify the principal discourses embedded in them (Cary, 2007:44). This she argues is one way of "[d]estabilizing and disrupting essentialist assumptions" which opens up pathways to "other ways of knowing" (Cary, 2007:44). In support of Cary's (2007) arguments, to capture the essence of the discourses in the narratives they have been quoted directly and have not been language edited so as to avoid misinterpretation of the embedded principal discourses. In order to discuss alternative ways of knowing, we will describe three principal discourses that arose from the narratives, and interpret and explain it in relation to hegemonic societal (con)texts and leading theoretical principles. Towards the end we will aim to explore what each of these discourses might entail for justice in an attempt to open up alternative pathways of understanding a curriculum for justice.

The domestic discourse

When holistically browsing through the narratives, there is one very prominent and popular discourse: this is the discourse encapsulating the typical role of women in their domestic capacity. The following two examples were taken from the narratives as anecdotal evidence:

In our culture when I finish eating it is a good sign to go and wash the dishes if you want to get married and have a good husband. So when finished eating you as a girl have to go and wash the dishes it is a good sign of a neat girl I when washing the dishes. In our family it is always a disgrace for the family when going to sleep and you are a girl or a woman and there is still dishes to be washed and go and to go and sleep. [Pilot study 1 - Girl 12]

There is a part where girls don't do and that is to not wash the car and that is the boy part there, very often boys don't do anything in the house and that will be only girls, girls, girls. [Pilot study 1 - Girl 6]

A simplistic analysis of these quotes may lead us to describe this discourse as 'anticipated in the light of the historical, cultural and societal inclination to instrumentalise and limit the role of women primarily to that of a good wife, housekeeper and mother'. In terms of traditional feminist theories, this discussion might be expanded as an example of Simone de Beaucoir's ([1949] in Cudd & Andreasen, 2007:8) statement that "[o]ne is not born, but rather becomes a woman...; it is a civilization as a whole that produces this creature...". Following the discourse of justice, one might argue for distributive or restorative justice to feature more prominently in the curriculum to enhance equity and beget fairness. However, in order to understand how we understand Others, we cannot only focus on what may seem 'unfair' and overlook the fundamental role that these domestic duties play in how the participants perceive their cultural and religious practices (cf. Okin, 2007).

In an attempt to understand, we need to ask how this narrative could assist us in conceptualising a curriculum for justice in more profound ways. One mayconsider acknowledging the "unconscious curriculum" (Gordon, 2006:4), which refers to the experiences (such as their domestic roles) and views (often based on their cultural and religious traditions) that learners bring with them into the classroom. By giving cognizance to the "unconscious curriculum" space is created in the curriculum to embrace a culture of justice which depicts justice holistically and not superficially. This should be done in a manner whereby the oppressing human faces hidden in societal systems maybecome exposed (Gutek, 2009:119) across the curriculum through dialogic action so as to enable diverse peoples to understand how they understand Others.

The cultural discourse

Another two discourses, relating broadly to culture, were evident from the narratives.

Respecting elders

What I don't like these days in rural places is that our girls that should respect our elders go around and make our culture ashamed of the things they do. For example, taking simple things in life for granted, sleeping around, back-chatting the adults and becoming pregnant. [Pilot study 1 - Girl 5]

When an elderly person comes to visit we greet them to show respect at all times [Pilot study 1 - Girl 14]

Girls' participation in traditional dancing

The children and women that is in the cultural dance are very strong and celebrate in themselves when they dance their culture and are very proud about their own culture [Pilot study 1 - Girl 4]

Our culture is different in other cultures and girls practices to dance. Our cultural dances and when we have ceremonies and in our cultural we wear cultural clothes it is called titana it is a skirt. When they dancing they shake their hips. They don't wear some thing to have their breasts. When I wear the titana I feel like I are in the grass and I feel uncomfortable I don't wear something to cover my breasts. It law of the cultural and the children to respect elders. My grandmother also teaches me to dance [Pilot study 2 - Girl 7]

These quotes from the narratives not only tell us a lot about the girls' cultural beliefs, values and feelings about these; but also a lot about the social issues they are often confronted with. Theseinclude: HIV/Aids, uncritical conforming to tradition, unwanted pregnanciesand abusive environments. However, if we are interested in how these narratives could assist us in conceptualising a curriculum for justice in more profound ways, we need to explore these on a curriculum level. In this regard, one may ask to what extent cultural dialogue is infused in the curriculum and integrated with real-life social issues. Or is it something that is purposely not included and that forms part of the null curriculum? A null curriculum, or that which is intentionally left out or overlooked in curriculum practices (Wilson, 2005), might in itself be coined unjust and lead to silence about practices that are hostile to profound justice in schools (Quinn, 2010:613-614). To generate unique ways in which curriculum can promote justice representing deontological virtues (cf. Zajda, 2006) will require grappling with real-life social issues. For this to realise, justice cannot be construed as based on universal principles but needs to be approached as a moral construct and obligation which acknowledges moral pluralism and deals with complex moral issues (Strike, 1999:36).

The caring discourse

There are 3 boys in our community they mother has passed away log a go. So they live with they grandmother, a sister sow they grandmother had moved and they big sister abuse theme sometime they go to school with out eating it hit my heart a lot seeing those boys.

My parent's give them food and they big brother told me that he is going to kill him and his little brothers and I sad no no no lease do not do that if you went food tell me I will give u...........

Now they big brother has no school shoes to wear to go to school I was so so sad some time they take they clothes. And their big sister says you are not going to wear those clothes when I say so. Please please help them!! (Pilot study 2 - Girl 4) {To comply with ethical considerations, we approached Child Line in North-West Province and asked them to follow the necessary procedures for a situation of this nature.}

This narrative expresses empathy and care for the Other. This participant has responded to an unjust situation in a caring manner which Noddings and Slote (2005:346) argue is necessitated bymoral interdependence and the avoidance of self-righteousness. Furthermore this participant illustrates in her narrative how she carried out a dialogue with the boys to persuade them not to kill themselves. This is reason to argue that she has "moral motivation rooted in feeling, not in reason" (Noddings & Slote, 2003:248) making her actions those of "affection" (Ruiz, 2004:283) and not mere irrational feeling. This narrative has evoked the need for us to use different lenses and think differently about what a curriculum for justice entails. Therefore, we would like to introduce the concept the 'caring curriculum'. The caring curriculum necessitates that we shun superficial dealings with justice and instead position ourselves on the virtue of care. The principle of having a caring curriculum necessitates that we create learning-teaching spaces for learners to experience "... a deep-seated receptivity and responsiveness to [O]thers;... [and put] oneself at the service of the other..." (Wear, 2010:101). Additionally we would argue that a caring curriculum creates spaces where learners can learn about the relativity and diversity embedded in the significant Other through engagement in 'complex moral issues' (Kibble, 1998:54) so that they can become sensitised to and respectful towards the significant Other.

The narratives appear to have created a safe space for these girls to communicate their experiences, feelings and fears. This has deepened our understanding of how we understand girls' voices and has made us explore the place of justice in the curriculum. More specifically, disrupting our knowledge in ways that places us in a situation where we can think of alternative ways of elaborating on our theoretical explorations toward a conception of a curriculum for justice.


Toward a curriculum for justice

Our theoretical explorations and attempts to make sense of the girls' voices bring us to the following conclusion: justice as reasonableness is not enough; our conception of justice should include the discourse of care if we wish to cultivate, through our transformative curriculum praxis, sociallyjust communities. Such curriculumpraxis should question dominant ideological and political forces that permeate our curriculum and that perpetuate systematic injustices which shape our ontological view of education (Apple, 2010). In questioning the obvious, subtle and opaque ways in which the nature of a curriculum is used as one of the strongest neo-liberalist tools, one is also in a position to deconstruct the language of the privileged (those with power). This is important, because the language of those with power does not only dictate epistemology, but has the potential to conceptualise understandings of justice that are profoundly unjust. We would argue that this enquiring disposition might be one way in which we could "inject knowledges in the blood" (cf. Jansen, 2009) and unveil opaque, deceptive messages vis-à-vis social justice and in the process demonstrate a caring disposition.

We propose that curriculum development theories should not be limited to curriculum design elements such as integration (Bernstein, 2009), progression (Chisholm, 2005) and infusion (Du Preez, 2008; Carrim & Keet, 2005); but include the design element: 'The Unspoken' (or the null curriculum). Without The Unspoken, our attempts to integrate and infuse the unconscious curriculum and the virtues of a caring curriculum may be futile. Worse still, it may annihilate all good intentions of moving toward a curriculum for justice that transcends the superficial understandings of justice that often frame our attempts to bring about justice in our classrooms.



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Petro du Preez is Senior Lecturer at the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. Her research focus includes curriculum studies and human rights for diverse education environments.
Shan Simmonds is Lecturer in Curriculum Studies in the School of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. Her research interests include curriculum development, gender equity, human rights education, and religious and cultural studies.




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