*1. School Subject*
Dewey viewed subject matter as a distinctive and specialized domain of 
experience for learners. Subject matter consists of a body of facts, 
concepts, values, and techniques that are selected, organized, and 
sequenced in a way that centers upon the predetermined objectives.
According to Zongyi Deng, (2013) School subject refers to *‘an area of 
learning within the school curriculum that constitutes an institutionally 
defined field of knowledge and practice for teaching and learning’*. A 
school subject is a distinctive purpose-built enterprise, constructed in 
response to social, cultural, and political demands and challenges toward 
educative ends.

School subjects can be traditional academic subjects such as mathematics, 
history, and geography that could have direct affiliations with their 
parent academic disciplines. They can also be unconventional ones such as 
tourism and hospitality that have no or minimal connections with academic 

*1.2. Features of School Subjects*
Grossman and Stodolsky (1995) defined three features of school subjects: 
Statue, perceived sequentiality and scope.
(i) School subjects differ in the status they have in the school and larger 
(ii) Sequentiality is perceived as important in school subjects, where 
certain knowledge and skills have to be known before proceeding to a new 
learning. For example in mathematics, learners should have number concept 
and the concept of place value before proceeding to addition, subtraction 
(iii) The scope of the subject refers to the different disciplinary areas 
included in the subjects, which can be broad or restricted. An example of 
broad based subject is social studies, which draws on discipline like 
history, political science, economics, geography etc.

*2. Academic Discipline*
The term ‘discipline’ originates from the Latin words *discipulus*, which 
means pupil, and *disciplina*, which means teaching. Discipline is defined 
by the *Oxford English Dictionary* as “a branch of learning or scholarly 
instruction.” A discipline is a branch of learning or domain of knowledge 
that is characterised by distinct objects, concepts, principles, theories, 
skills, tools and applications.
An academic discipline as a branch of knowledge incorporates expertise, 
people, projects, communities, challenges, studies, inquiry, and research 
areas that are strongly associated with a given academic discipline. For 
example, the branches of science are commonly referred to as the scientific 
disciplines, e.g. physics, mathematics, computer science.
2.1. *Characteristics of Discipline*
1) Disciplines have a particular object of research (e.g. law, society, 
politics), though the object of research may be shared with another 
2) Disciplines have a body of accumulated specialist knowledge referring to 
their object of research, which is specific to them and not generally 
shared with another discipline;
3) Disciplines have theories and concepts that can organize the accumulated 
specialist knowledge effectively;
4) Disciplines use specific terminologies or a specific technical language 
adjusted to their research object;
5) Disciplines have developed specific research methods according to their 
specific research requirements; and maybe most crucially
6) Disciplines must have some institutional manifestation in the form of 
subjects taught at universities or colleges, respective academic 
departments and professional associations connected to it.
Not all disciplines have all of the aforementioned six characteristics.
*2.2. Typology of Discipline*
 *Anthony Biglan* (1973) based on empirical research drew distinction 
between discipline based on three dimensions. First he found difference in 
the degree to which one paradigm exists in a discipline (hard-soft). For 
discipline with one important paradigm there is more consensus about method 
of study and content (E.g: physics) than in discipline without a single 
paradigm (E.g: humanities). Secondly Biglan distinguished discipline based 
on their degree of concern with application (pure – applied). Disciplines 
like education and engineering is more concerned with application to 
practice. Finally a distinction was drawn between disciplines concerning 
biological or social areas and those that are concerned with inanimate 
objects (life- non life).
Becher (1989) modified Biglan’s typology  based on first two dimensions, 
which resulted in four types of disciplines: Hard pure, Hard Applied, Soft 
Pure, and Soft Applied.

2.3. *Strengths and weaknesses of disciplines*
*3. **The relationships between academic disciplines and school subjects*
School subjects can have different and variable relationships to academic 
disciplines, depending on their aims, contents, and developmental phases. 
(1997) identifies five possible relationships between academic disciplines 
and school subjects.
(1) Academic disciplines and school subjects are essentially *continuous*;
(2) Academic disciplines and school subjects are basically *discontinuous*;
(3) Academic disciplines and school subjects are *different but related  *in 
one of the three ways:
(3a) academic discipline precedes school subject,
(3b) school subject precedes academic discipline, or
(3c) the relation between the two is dialectic.
She argues further that each of the relationships implies a curricular 
position, reflecting particular political and moral interests.
*4. Distinction between academic disciplines and school subjects*

(i)                 Subjects are not, in fact, drawn directly or readily 
from their parent studies, and parent studies are not all disciplines.
(ii)               The disciplines are arranged for the expedient 
advancement of investigations and researches, but the school subjects are 
organized for the facilitation of learning and teaching in particular 
(iii)             The formation of school subjects is driven by social and 
political needs.
(iv)             The school subject is a ‘transformed’ version of the 
academic discipline.
(v)               The academic discipline, not the school subject, is 
providing the frame of reference for defining and delineating what 
classroom teachers need to know about the subject matter they are supposed 
to teach.
(vi)             School subjects come first and academic disciplines later 
in one’s learning journey from school to university.

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