Analyzing Curricular Change:
Ideas and Variables to Consider before changing
Context of the problem
- Origin of the problem
- History of the problem
- Has it always been a problem
- Why has it not been recognized as one? or if it has Why has it not been solved?
- What sustains it?
- What has been done to overcome the problem?
- Why does the problem persist in spite of these efforts?
- If there has not been any action, then why not?
- Are there other plausible ways of posing the problem? What can be said for them?
- Is one way of posing it unquestionably better or is it possible that the problem is really complex, made up of many overlapping problems of separate origin?
Possible reasons to support or reject arguments
Arguments for desirability: Doing X will:
- realize an ideal, attain a goal (or avoid ills)
- realize inherent potential (of students, society, humanity)
- conform to tradition (classics)
- achieve freshness, novelty
- allow students to have experiences judged to be inherently good
- satisfy wants, desires, preferences, interests
- be natural, conform to natural law
Arguments for utility: Doing X will:
- lead to results that will be directly useful in life outside school
- meet needs (students’. society’s)
- be consistent with social trends - society will embrace it
- be instrumental to ideal realization
- be instrumental to further important learning
Arguments for obligation: Doing X will:
- meet (fail to meet) a moral obligation, such as:
- minister to basic human needs
- be just, fair
- promote equality
- promote freedom, liberty
- promote human dignity
- be consistent with moral code
- meet (fail to meet) a legal obligation, such as:
- a constitutional right
- provision of a duly enacted law
Arguments for feasibility: Doing X will:
- achieve (fail to achieve) the results we seek
- require resources we can (cannot) afford
- impose time requirements we can (cannot) meet
- produce desirable (undesirable) side effects
- incur acceptable (unacceptable) transition costs
- require human abilities we can (cannot) expect to find
- require human willingness we can (cannot) expect to find
- require social/political/institutional acceptance, support we can (cannot) expect to receive
- expose us to risks we can (cannot) bear
- achieve a satisfactory (unsatisfactory) overall benefit/cost ratio
Check for soundness of arguments
- Show selected argumentative strategies show inconsistency:
- between two aims or ideals
- between actions and ideals
- between two actions
- Show failure to resolve the problem as construed
- Show faulty assumptions
- Produce counter-evidence
- Produce a superior problem construal
- Challenge a value expressed or implied
- Identify a value that is neglected or violated
- Show superior comparative advantage (If X is good, Y is better)
- Show undesirable holistic or emergent properties of the curriculum, such as:
- integration, coordination, unity, coherence
- Show lack of relevance to contemporary life
- Communicated the problem in a very defensible manner.
- Considered all of the most promising alternative courses of action the merits of each, and the validity of each.