Community and Contestation: A Gramscian Case Study of Teacher Resistance



Smith J (2020) Community and Contestation: A Gramscian Case Study of Teacher Resistance. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 52 (1), pp. 27-44.

This paper focuses on a specific example of an all-too-rare phenomenon in education studies: the successful resistance by ordinary classroom teachers of policy change at the macro-level. Focusing on the withdrawal of the 2013 Draft National Curriculum for History in England, it considers the views of six teachers who were personally involved in active resistance. Building on Gintin and Margonis’ (1995) view that teacher resistance can represent ‘good sense’, it is suggested that teachers’ self-described conceptualisations of this resistance are best understood in Gramscian terms. The paper does not propose the political theory of Gramsci as a blueprint for effective resistance, but instead suggests that categories which Gramsci associated with resistance to capitalism might emerge organically within other sites of resistance, and even among those unfamiliar with Gramsci’s work. Furthermore, it implies that theoretically-informed transformative intellectuals of the kind described by Giroux (1988) might still be found working in neoliberal education systems.

History curriculum; teacher resistance; curriculum contestation; Antonio Gramsci

Journal of Curriculum Studies: Volume 52, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online08/03/2019
Date accepted by journal19/02/2019

People (1)


Dr Joseph Smith

Dr Joseph Smith

Lecturer, Education

Research programmes