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Oliva's Ten Axioms

of Curriculum Development
"Education is one of the institutions the human
race has created to serve certain needs, and like all
human institutions, it response or should respond
to changes in the environment. The institution of
education is activated by a curriculum that itself
changes in response to forces affecting it."

-Peter Oliva
"If the curriculum is perceived as a plan for the
learning experiences that young people encounter
under the direction of the school, its purpose is to
provide a vehicle for ordering and directing those
experiences. This process of providing the vehicle
and keeping it running smoothly is known as
curriculum development."

- Peter Oliva
We don't need coping strategies
for saber-tooth tigers....
Clarification of Terms

Curriculum development: the more comprehensive


term; it includes planning, implementation, and
evaluation. It implies change and betterment, so
sometimes 'curriculum improvement' is used
synonymously with curriculum development, though
in some cases improvement is viewed as the result of
the development
Curriculum planning: the preliminary phase of
curriculum development when the curriculum
workers make decisions and take actions to
establish the plan that teachers and students will
carry out. Planning is the thinking of design
phase.
Curriculum implementation: is translation of plans
into action. Certain patterns of curriculum
organization or reorganization are chosen and
put into operation in this stage. For example,
ways of delivering the learning experiences, using
teaching teams, are taken out of the planning
context and made operational. The role of the
teacher changes from curriculum worker to
instructor.
Curriculum evaluation: results are assessed and
successes of both the learners and the programs
are determined.
Types of Curriculum Principles

Whole Truths: obvious facts or concepts proved through


experimentation, & usually accepted without challenge (i.e.
children must have developed prerequisite skills before mastering
an advanced body of content)
Partial Truths: based on limited data & can apply to some, many,
or most situations, but are not always universal (i.e. homogeneous
grouping)
Hypotheses: tentative working assumptions, based on curriculum
workers best judgements, folklore, & common sense (i.e. class size)
Rather than talking about whole truths,
partial truths, or hypotheses, axioms
offer guidelines that establish a frame
of reference for curriculum workers
seeking ways of operating and
resolving problems.
Inevitability of Change

Axiom 1: Change is both inevitable and


necessary, for it is through change that life forms
grow and develop.
"Change in the form of responses to
contemporary problems must be foremost in
the minds of curriculum developers."
Curriculum as a Product of Its Time

Axiom 2: A school curriculum not only reflects


but is a product of its time.
The curriculum responds to and is changed
by social forces, philosophical positions,
psychological principles, accumulating
knowledge, and educational leadership at its
moment in history.
Concurrent Changes

Axiom 3: Curriculum changes made at an earlier


period of time can exist concurrently with newer
curriculum changes at a later period of time.
Changes coexist and overlap for long
periods of time. Some themes are repeated
through history.
Change in People
Axiom 4: Curriculum change results from changes in people.
Changes handed down from on high do not work.
Not until people have internalized the changes and accepted them
as their own can the changes be effective and long lasting.
This means bringing about changes in people - in their desires,
beliefs, and attitudes, in their knowledge and skill. (Miel)
Give all persons an opportunity to contribute to the proposed
change before it's too far along and irreversible.
Cooperative Endeavor

Axiom 5: Curriculum change is effected as a result of


cooperative endeavor on the part of groups.
CD is "more a matter of growth of individuals"
than as "the installation or construction of
certain materials." (Oliver)
Involvement of teachers and students, parents
and citizens
Decision-Making Process
Axiom 6: Curriculum development is basically a decision-
making process.
1. Choices among disciplines
2. Choices among competing viewpoints
3. Choices of emphases
4. Choices of methods
5. Choices in organization
Continuous Process

Axiom 7: Curriculum development is a never-


ending process
Never perfect - can always be improved
Needs of learners change
Society changes
New knowledge appears
Comprehensive Process
Axiom 8: Curriculum development is a comprehensive process.
Historically CD has been "piecemeal", the product of
generations of "tinkering", taking one piece out and replacing it
with another without a reappraisal of the whole pattern. (Taba)
A comprehensive view encompasses an awareness of the impact
of curriculum development not only on students, teachers, &
parents directly concerned with the change, but on those not
involved with the planning yet still affected by the results of the
planning.
Systematic Development

Axiom 9: Systematic curriculum development is


more effective than trial and error.
Should ideally be made comprehensive by
looking at the whole picture and be made
systematic by following an established set of
procedures.
Starting from Existing Curriculum

Axiom 10: The curriculum planner starts from


where the curriculum is, just as the teacher starts
from where the students are.
Slow but steady progress toward change
allows time for testing and reflection
"Hold fast to that which is good." (Book of
Common Prayer)