This study analyzes the process of curriculum development in Social Studies in Philippine basic education from 1980 to 2010 and argues that the curriculum, as a product, is shaped and determined by political contexts and results from the deliberations and decisions of a group of people tasked to craft it. Analyzing primary documents such as memos, reports, curriculum documents, and teacher’s guides, and drawing from interviews with curriculum writers and consultants, this study is able to identify socio-political factors that influence the articulation of curriculum objectives and content. Teachers, consultants, and staff from the Department of Education , who constitute the curriculum writing team play different roles and representations as the curriculum document is produced. In the process, they each wield levels of power in influencing the curriculum.
Curriculum development in Philippine basic education is by convention, the work of the government. It starts with the Department of Education’s curriculum office (formerly Curriculum Development Division, now Bureau of Curriculum Development), and disseminated through a department order handed to the different geographical regions and divisions across the Philippines and down to the schools where teachers are expected to implement them in the classroom (Bago, 2001; Bernardo & Mendoza, 2009; Mariñas & Ditapat, 1998).
This paper intends to inquire how the Social Studies curriculum was developed from 1980 to 2010 and identify factors that influence its development.
Origin, Definition, and Purpose of Social Studies
This paper utilizes the history of the development of Social Studies curriculum in the US as its framework, and notes the interplay of context in identifying the goals and focus of Social Studies (see Table 1).
Most scholars trace the institution of Social Studies as a school subject in high school to a 1916 report by the US Committee on Social Studies tasked to review whether the social science courses taken by high school students were what college education required.
As recommended by the 1916 Committee, Social Studies, defined as “those whose subject matter relates directly to the organization and development of human society, and to man as a member of a social group” (Nelson, 1994, p. 20) was implemented as a subject in high school.
This new subject replaced civics education in high school and altered the way history was traditionally taught. Civics would be integrated with Geography and History at Grades 7 until 9. History at Grades 10 and 11 would be taught, not using its chronological organization but according to selected topics/problems deemed interesting to students or that would help explain the present. In Grade 12, Social Studies would culminate in Problems of Democracy, a subject on social problems viewed from the perspectives of political science, sociology, economics, and history.
It was argued that Social Studies, as a subject, should develop among students “a sense of responsibility and the will to participate effectively in the promotion of the social well-being” (Nelson, 1994, p. 17). The need for civics education rested on the fact that at that time, there was an increasing number of immigrants from Europe coming to the United States who needed to be initiated to the ideals of democracy and were expected to respond to the demands of industrialization.
Saxe (1991), however, refuted the popular belief that the 1916 document created the term Social Studies. He cited Heber Newton’s 1887 book titled Social Studies about the social conditions and prospects of urban workers and Sarah Bolton’s Social Studies in England published in 1883, which sought to utilize the social sciences to promote social welfare of urban workers. He also claimed that Ira Howerth, inspired by a “Social Study Club” where members conduct investigations of social conditions and institutions to improve their local conditions, wrote the first outline of a “program for social study” (Saxe, 1991, p. 18) in 1897. Saxe (1992) also noted that Social Studies was made part of the school curriculum in 1897 by Edmund James, president of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. Using the natural sciences model of grouping the fields of geology, mineralogy, biology, etc. under the rubric ‘nature studies’ for use in public schools, James suggested pulling together the social sciences for use in the lower schools under the umbrella of ‘social study.’ Thus, as Saxe argued, Social Studies did not begin with nor extend from the traditional history as most would interpret the 1916 document, but from the social welfare activists who conceived social science as a general area of inquiry to help solve societal problems. He noted that this general or holistic approach to treating social issues and problems surfaced in education, first under the rubric “social education” and then, finally, as “social studies” (Nelson, 1994, p. 270).
Those who considered the 1916 document as primary in engendering Social Studies also noted that the goal of citizenship education was expounded in three strands: transmission, transformation, and progressivism. Addressing the specific needs of the times as a) preservation of democratic life, b) preparation of citizens for industrialized economy, and c) initiation of immigrants to the American way of life, it established the goal of producing good citizens by transmitting to students the knowledge, values, or culture needed in a democratic society. This aim of transmission would materialize in the Community Civics course where the student would know the meaning of community life—“what it does for him and how it does it, what the community has to expect from him and how he may fulfill his obligation” (Nelson, 1994, p. 30).
Citizenship education also recognized the study of social problems as a necessary part of the education of citizens. As the 1916 document discussed this aim in the context of social efficiency specifically manifested in the “intelligence and the will to participate effectively in the promotion of social well-being” (Nelson, 1994, p. 17), such implied an element of social transformation. Thus, the aim of social studies to develop good citizens included the citizen taking action to solve a problem and transform his environment.
The third strand woven into this discourse was the fact that citizenship education started with the teaching principle on student needs and interest. There were numerous references to John Dewey’s philosophy and the choice of content for study according to “the present life interests of the pupil, or those which he could use in his present processes of growth” (Nelson, 1994, p. 19) was adopted. It could also be implied that the ultimate goal of Social Studies education was to “meet the needs of the present growth.” (Nelson, 1994, p.53). Fallace (2009) concluded that the 1916 committee report was Dewey-inspired and drew much from him and his progressive peers.
Since then Social Studies as a subject became part of the school curriculum. In the1920s, the goal of civics/citizenship training was pursued and social problems and controversial issues continued to be the focus of Social Studies. When the Great Depression happened in the 1930s, studying social problems and issues proved to be inadequate. The purpose of Social Studies then shifted from citizenship education to social reconstruction. Problems were studied not because they were the immediate concern of the individual student, but because Social Studies had to take part in creating social change. During World War II, citizenship education again became the central emphasis of Social Studies, but with a focused attention on patriotism and current events. Emphasis was on reflective process, studying problems meaningful to youth, and building the right attitudes rather than learning a specific content.
In the 1950s and 1960s, a study on the historical illiteracy of American school children and the launching of Sputnik by the Soviets called for a more rigorous academic study of the social sciences, moving away from the study of social problems. This came to be known as the “new Social Studies” (Nelson, 1994).
In 1983, the publication of A Nation at Risk led to a proposed curriculum pattern emphasizing historical studies and recommended that schools adopt more rigorous, measurable standards and heighten expectations for academic performance.
Social Studies Curriculum in the US, 1920s–1980s
Purpose of Social Studies
Focus of Social Studies Civics Social problems
Social efficiency Progressivism
Civics Social problems
Social problems Expanding environment curriculum
World War II
Citizenship education Patriotism
Current events Core curriculum
1950s & 1960s
Cold War Sputnik launch
Academic excellence Scientific knowledge
Social Sciences “New Social Studies” Inquiry method
Assessment reports on the state of education
History History standards
This study analyzed the curriculum documents of Social Studies from 1982–2010 (see Table 2). Key informant interviews were also conducted with master teachers, officials from the Department of Education’s Bureau of Curriculum Development, and consultants who were directly involved in the development of the curricula.
Curriculum Revisions in Elementary and Secondary Social Studies, 1982–2010 (based on curriculum titles)
New Elementary School Curriculum (NESC) Minimum Learning Competencies New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) Desired Learning Competencies
New Elementary School Curriculum (NESC) Philippine Elementary Schools Learning Competencies (PESLC) New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) Philippine Secondary Schools Learning Competencies (PSSLC)
Basic Education Curriculum (BEC)
2010 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies Philippine Secondary Learning Competencies
Political context, educational goals, and textbooks
Educational goals in the 1980s–2010 were crafted within specific political contexts and consequently, such contexts define how the goals were articulated. The goals of the 1982 New Elementary School Curriculum (NESC) were obtained from Batas Pambansa Blg. 232 (Education Act of 1982) issued during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, while the goals of 1989 New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) were based on the 1987 Constitution drafted during the time of President Corazon Aquino. The elementary and secondary Social Studies curricula therefore spanned within the contexts of two political eras, i.e., Marcos’ dictatorship and Aquino’s restoration of democracy. This change in the political set-up transformed the articulation of educational goals across the said periods. While the 1982 goals reiterated the goals of the previous 1970 elementary curriculum (The Revised Elementary Education Program, 1970), the 1989 goals (Implementation of the New Secondary, 1989) were not a reiteration of the 1973 secondary curriculum (Department of Education and Culture, 1976). Instead, the 1989 goals were revised to reflect the changes in the political scene. For instance, the goal to develop “a reasoned commitment to national development” in 1973 became “enlightened commitment to national ideals” (Nelson, 1994) in 1989, signifying a change in tone (from reason to enlightenment) and construct (from national development to national ideals). The acquisition of work skills had to be matched with work ethics in 1989, putting forward the need for values. Lastly, the arts and sciences, then seen as sources of pleasures and profit, were now viewed not only for self-fulfillment but also for promoting the welfare of others.
Comparing the 1973 and 1989 Curriculum Objectives
Objectives of 1973 Revised Secondary Education Curriculum (RSEC)
• Develop a reasoned commitment to the goals of national development by cherishing, preserving, and developing moral and spiritual values and other aspects of the national heritage desirable in Philippine society
• Acquire the basic occupational skills, knowledge, and information essential for obtaining initial gainful employment and for making intelligent choice of occupation or career
• Understand the wide possibilities of the arts and the sciences as permanent sources of pleasures and profit, and discover, broaden, and heighten his abilities in and appreciation for them
Objectives of the 1989 New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC)
• Develop an enlightened commitment to the national ideals by cherishing, preserving and developing moral, spiritual, and socio-cultural values as well as other desirable aspects of the Filipino heritage
• Acquire work skills, knowledge and information, and a set of work ethics essential for making intelligent choice of an occupation or career and for specialized training in specific occupation
• Broaden and heighten one’s abilities in and appreciation for the arts, science and technology as a means for maximizing one’s potentials for self-fulfillment and for promoting the welfare of others
The 1989 NSEC was launched three years after Marcos was unseated from power through a non-violent revolution. As democracy was restored, then Department of Education Secretary Lourdes Quisumbing (1994) implemented the Values Education Programme to strengthen the moral fiber of the Filipino people, weakened by 14 years of dictatorship. NSEC used this values education framework to transform the goals of secondary education accordingly, as was discussed.
The production of instructional materials was also affected by these political changes. During the Marcos era, the Textbook Board, the body that selects and approves textbooks for elementary and secondary schools, was replaced by the Textbook Council, whose members were confined to the Minister of Education and Culture, the Directors of the Bureau of Elementary and Bureau of Secondary Education, and two presidential appointees (Creating the Textbook Council, 1982). In comparison, the Board of Textbooks created in 1947 was composed of presidential appointees who were not from the Department of Education (An Act Creating a Board, 1921).
Also, in 1982 the Instructional Materials Corporation (IMC) was created as the agency in charge of 1) production and distribution of textbooks and instructional materials for public schools, and 2) formulating policy recommendations and standards governing textbooks and instructional materials for adoption of the Textbook Council (Creating the Textbook Council, 1982). Given such power, IMC was able to monopolize the production of textbooks for all public schools and reduce the role of private publishers to mere reproduction of IMC-produced textbooks.
From 1996–2010, however, private publishers resumed production and distribution of textbooks. In 1991, The IMC was transformed from being a government-owned and controlled corporation to a regular government agency, now called the Instructional Materials Development Center (IMDC). In 1995, R.A. 8047 (Book Publishing Industry Development Act, 1995) was passed, and IMDC subsequently became part of the National Book Development Board (NBDB). DECS, in consultation with NBDB, prescribed the guidelines in evaluating, selecting, and approving textbook manuscripts and prototypes submitted by private publishers.
The role of the curriculum writing team
The curriculum writing team was composed of master teachers, staff from the Department of Education’s Curriculum Development Division, and consultants (content experts) invited by the Department. This triune composition seemed to be the recurring arrangement whenever the curriculum is revised or developed.
The Master Teacher (MT) rank qualified teachers to become curriculum writers. However, there seemed to be no established criteria or screening process as to who among the MTs could take part in writing the curriculum. The interview responses of the MTs who wrote the learning competencies were very interesting. When asked why they were recruited to write the curriculum, they enumerated the following reasons:
The above reasons basically listed special qualifications as participant (ability to participate in discussions), writer (ability to write well), and teacher (with qualities worthy of a supervisor’s recommendation). There was no mention of the necessity of curriculum development expertise.
The staff (S) from the Department of Education were supposed to be the curriculum experts in the team. Although, the Department’s staff who were part of the writing committee were identified not as curriculum experts but as employees from the Curriculum Development Division, or more generally speaking, from the Bureau of Elementary Education or the Bureau of Secondary Education. Interviews with the four staff members revealed that all of them were former MTs in the public school system and to them, it was a “career move” to be able to transfer and be part of the central office of the Department (S1, personal communication, February 24, 2014; S2, personal communication, May 7, 2014; S3, personal communication, February 26, 2014; S4, personal communication, June 2, 2014).
Consultants (C) are subject area specialists from different universities (Bureau of Secondary Education, 1994.) They are supposed to play an active role in the writing process. However, consultants interviewed for this study were very certain that their tasks were limited to
In the 1970s, the consultants were already present while the curriculum was being written. During this time, however, the consultants came in after the curriculum had been written and their comments were considered by the writing team as “coming from the outside” (Nelson, 1994). The consultants also perceived that their comments were ignored since they were not given the chance to check how the comments were integrated in the final draft of the curriculum
This work dynamics between consultants and writers can be interpreted in terms of power relations. The superior role usually played by consultants as content experts and the tendency of teachers to subordinate their own ideas to the content experts, define a kind of hierarchy in terms of knowledge authority. On the other hand, as consultants were not part of the regular deliberations of the writing team, their recommendations were not taken as mandatory. Teacher-writers in this case reverse the power relations where they have the authority to either accept or reject them. In the case of the Social Studies curriculum for this period, they ignored the comments of the consultants.
An Act Creating a Board to have Charge of Selection and Approval of the Textbooks to be Used by the Colleges and Schools of the Government and For Other Purposes, Act 2957 (1921).
Bago, A. L. (2001). Curriculum development: The Philippine experience. Manila: De La Salle University Press.
Bernardo, A. B., & Mendoza R. J. (2009). Makabayan in the Philippine basic education curriculum: Problems and prospects for reforming student learning in the Philippines. In C. H. Ng & P. D. Renshaw (Eds.), Reforming learning (pp. 181–197). London: Springer Science. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4020-3024-6_9
Book Publishing Industry Development Act, R.A. 8047 (1995).
Bureau of Secondary Education Curriculum Development Division. (1994). Curriculum reform: Towards relevant secondary education.
Creating the Textbook Council and the Instructional Materials Corporation, Defining Their Powers and Functions and for Other Purposes, E.O. 806 (1982).
Department of Education and Culture. (1976). Isang patnubay sa pagtuturo ng Araling Panlipunan I (Batayan). Manila: DEC Social Studies Center.
Education Act of 1982, B.P. 232 (1982).
Fallace, T. (2009). John Dewey’s influence on the origins of Social Studies: An analysis of the historiography and new interpretation. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 601–624. doi: 10.3102/0034654308326159
Implementation of the New Secondary Education Curriculum under the 1989 Secondary Education Development Program, Department of Education, Culture and Sports Order No. 11 (1989).
Mariñas, B. O. & Ditapat, M. P. (1998). Philippines: Curriculum development. UNESCO statistical yearbook [PDF file]. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from www.ibe.unesco.org/curriculum/Asia%20Networkpdf/ndrepph.pdf
Nelson, M. R. (1994). The social studies in secondary education: A reprint of the seminal 1916 report with annotations and commentaries. Bloomington, Indiana: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED374072)
Quisumbing, L. (1994). A study of the Philippine values education programme (1986-1983). Paper presented at 44th International Conference on Education, Geneva. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0009/000997/099770eb.pdf
The Revised Elementary Education Program, Department of Education and Culture Order No. 10 (1970).
Saxe, D. W. (1991). Social studies in schools: a history of the early years. New York: State University of New York Press.
Saxe D. W. (1992). Framing a theory for social studies foundations. Review of Educational Research. 62(3), 259–277. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1170739 .
All educational enterprises use a curriculum that must be designed and developed by one person or group and immediately, issues of complexity and challenge arise. From an outsider viewpoint curriculum development appears simple and straightforward, but it is not what it appears. Rather, it is complex, full of twists and turns, and requiring significant thought and input from curriculum developers. This article identifies and investigates significant influences on the process of curriculum development and locates these in the context of developing a component of the recently completed Australian Curriculum.
Keywords: curriculum development, Australian Curriculum
All educational enterprises use a curriculum even if they do not formally acknowledge a curriculum in their training program. Consequently, any curriculum must be designed and developed by one person or group and immediately, issues of complexity and challenge arise. Who designs and develops a curriculum and what do they bring with them to the development task?
All educational enterprises use a curriculum even if they do not formally acknowledge a curriculum in their training program. Consequently, any curriculum must be designed and developed by one person or group and immediately, issues of complexity and challenge arise. Who designs and develops a curriculum and what do they bring with them to the development task?
All education or training programs require a curriculum as it provides the guide for what students will learn. This is usually understood as a document to guide teachers/ educators in their delivery to students. The curriculum is devised and developed usually by a group or possibly one person such as a teacher for one’s class. Who are these curriculum developers? Who develops the curriculum in large measure determines what it will be like and its potential impact on students. These preliminary concepts and questions reveal that the development of, indeed the very understanding of, curriculum is complex and problematic.
Curriculum quality is highly variable and is significantly influenced by its developers, but before a curriculum can be produced, we should pose several key questions.
Two key questions that reveal the complexity of curriculum:
What is curriculum? A curriculum is the totality of the learning experience of students under the auspices of the learning organization. Although definitions of curriculum vary considerably such that a consensus definition appears all but impossible, I have argued for some time that curriculum may be defined as “all the planned learning opportunities offered by the organization [such as a school] to learners and the experiences learners encounter when the curriculum is implemented” (Print, 1993, p. 9). Although for most of our experience and research this organization will be a school, it could also be a university, a pilot training organization, a technical college, and any other form of educational training.
This broad definition of curriculum in the context of schools includes the formal curriculum (school subjects), the informal curriculum (other planned learning experiences that are not subjects such as school assemblies; charity fundraising), and the extra-curriculum (learning experiences outside of school hours). Meanwhile, although significant, perhaps very significant, the hidden curriculum (unintended learning by students that was not planned for them) is not part of this definition as, by its very nature, it was not planned.
We usually think of curriculum as a document to guide learners in achieving their goal. In the context of schools, a curriculum is often called a syllabus: a broad-based set of learning experiences for students that includes acquiring literacy, numeracy, science, history, social science such as geography and economics, physical health as well as sports, music, arts, and foreign languages.
However, the term ‘curriculum’ is often employed in different ways leading to possible confusion. Curriculum is, in effect, whatever people say it is—a group of school subjects, the written syllabus of subject matter content, learner experience, or even teacher practice in classrooms. Another way of viewing the term is to think of it as it is applied. For example:
Curriculum development. This is the process of planning, constructing, implementing, and evaluating learning opportunities intended to produce desired changes in learners, i.e., transforming curriculum conceptions and needs into a curriculum document and its application in an educational context.
This process can be achieved in a variety of ways as long as all four components of curriculum development are included. One model is found in Print’s (1993) Curriculum Design and Development, which can be applied to a variety of contexts from schools to education systems.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) employs the same curriculum development process though it uses different terminology:
Phase 1: Curriculum Shaping (planning)
Phase 2: Curriculum Writing (constructing)
Phase 3: Implementation (implementing)
Phase 4: Curriculum Evaluation and Review (evaluating)
These four phases (ACARA, 2012) follow the more detailed components in my curriculum model: Organization (Presage); Development; Application (Print, 1993, pp. 81–88).
Curriculum design. This is the arrangement of the elements of curriculum (intent, content, pedagogy, assessment) into a desired structure/pattern over time. It uses the design forces of horizontal organization (what should be learnt and the arrangement of that learning in a period of time such as a term, semester, or year) and vertical organization (what should be learnt and the sequential arrangement of that learning over a period of time such as the years of elementary school or high school).
Most school curricula are dominated by subject-centred designs where students experience a number of school-level subjects, such as history or English (usually older students), or learner-centred designs which may be play-based, experiential learning, or problem-solving (younger students).
What is important in the design and development of any curriculum is to know before commencement what is wanted from that curriculum in terms of student outcomes. In the broadest, should the school curriculum aim to educate democratic citizens, efficient workers, ‘good’ people, skilled technicians, or enlightened individuals? This overall aim then leads to further questions:
When these questions are addressed, then decide who will develop the specific curricula.
Who develops curricula? Before we know what the curriculum will be about and we can develop and design such a curriculum, a key question must be posed: who makes the decisions on whom to include in a curriculum development team? Who will be included or excluded? These are central to understanding the final product as these curricula are clearly influenced by the nature of the team that develops them (Print, 1993).
In the case of the Australian Curriculum Civics & Citizenship (ACCC), the senior administrators decided. With their assistance, it was then left to me to determine which persons would be included or excluded from the curriculum team to develop the ACCC. In making these decisions it is essential to recognize that the persons who develop a curriculum determines, in large measure, the final product and consequently should not to be underestimated. Experience shows that participants may frequently not be experienced in the study of curriculum, are often subject specialists who know a specific content area, may be political appointees, present difficulties for maintaining an inclusive/exclusive balance, and need to maintain limited numbers or the task may become unmanageable.
Curriculum Development Challenges
Curriculum development is a complex, time-consuming process fraught with many challenges. Some of the key challenges influencing curriculum development especially for schools are political intervention, educational theories, conflicted stakeholders, and who is included/excluded in the curriculum development process as discussed previously.
Political ideology challenges. Curricula are not politically free as they are invariably developed in a political context of some form or influenced by political decision-makers such as politicians. The prevailing political ideology dominating the West for the past few decades is neoliberalism. Its dominance reflects the ability of the wealthy to assert their power to restructure society and government for their benefit. They have transformed the political decision-making process to one where private interests influence the political process through various means.
Here, education is seen as a commodity. Market ideas of scarcity, access, competition, and profit dictate or dominate education policy. However, research shows that neoliberal ideas of individual freedom and autonomy (i.e., choice), coupled with a belief in market forces to ‘fix’ education and provide social mobility, have contributed to ever-increasing inequality. Neoliberalism has had many consequences for education and school curricula, which has resulted in increasing challenges for curriculum developers. Some examples include:
Educational theories challenges. Curriculum development is often affected by prevailing educational theories that are influential from time to time. These educational theories may also be in opposition to each other therefore raising further challenges to curriculum developers. One of the earliest theories to influence curriculum was the work of John Dewey. His theoretical writings on experiential learning and democracy (Dewey, 1916) have been significant for a century, reinterpreted by later generations in their own contexts.
The process of curriculum development was influenced by many educational theorists over the twentieth century including Ralph Tyler (Print, 1993) and Hilda Taba (Print, 1993) through what were known as the objectives or rational models of curriculum development. These were subsequently reconceptualized and expanded by curriculum developers such as Skilbeck (1984) and Print (1993).
Similarly, educational psychologists such as Benjamin Bloom (Print, 1993) and Jerome Bruner (Print, 1993) affected how curriculum was conceptualized and presented. Bruner’s work in the 1960s–1980s, for example, through engaged curriculum projects affected how we thought about and engaged curricula with students. Bloom’s taxonomy and his approach to formative and summative evaluation were significantly influential during this period as well. Subsequently, however, their influence over curriculum has diminished.
Conflicting stakeholders. The development of any curriculum is likely to involve multiple stakeholders. The development of school curricula is an example of engagement with multiple stakeholders, many who frequently display conflicting positions on curriculum as Michael Apple (1993) demonstrated. For example, in early childhood education a conflict has emerged between stakeholders who support play-based learning compared with those who advocate greater structured learning. This situation presents a problem for curriculum developers unless a resolution can be found.
Curriculum development may also be influenced by other groups of stakeholders that may be in conflict. In Australia, tension exists between stakeholders who support government schools compared with those who advocate non-government schooling. This is evident when government schools account for around 65% of all students, Catholic Education about 21%, and Independent Schools around 14% of all students.
Other groups with stakeholder interests in the curriculum process can include state-based curriculum authorities, universities, schools and teachers, parents and parent lobby groups, religious groups, and even NGOs such as Red Cross and Greenpeace that seek to influence the content of school curricula (Print, 1993).
Australian Curriculum Civics and Citizenship (ACCC)
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has responsibility for engaging stakeholders with the Australian Curriculum. Curriculum development is seen as a shared task, a joint experience of many, with key writers. This encourages a critical perspective in the development process. The preparation of the Australian Curriculum Civics and Citizenship (ACARA, 2014, 2016) is an example of the curriculum development process in operation as well as the complexity and challenges faced by curriculum developers.
In the past quarter century, Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) in Australian education has emerged as a significant component of Australian school education as it has sought to underpin and strengthen Australia’s democratic way of life (Print, 2007, 2008). The term Civics and Citizenship Education is used in Australia, rather than civic education, though the terms overlap considerably in terms of school curriculum content. By CCE, it means that the school subject or learning experience prepares school students in a democracy to become an active, informed citizen. As identified in the recently developed Australian Curriculum:
Civics and Citizenship provides opportunities to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of Australia's representative democracy and the key institutions, processes, and role people play in Australia’s political and legal systems. Emphasis is placed on Australia's federal system of government, derived from the Westminster system, and the liberal democratic values that underpin it such as freedom, equality and the rule of law. The curriculum explores how the people, as citizens, choose their governments; how the system safeguards democracy by vesting people with civic rights and responsibilities; how laws and the legal system protect people’s rights; and how individuals and groups can influence civic life. (ACARA, 2014, p. 4)
In 2011 Professor Murray Print was invited to prepare a background discussion paper on what CCE should look like in a national curriculum. This was well received and Professor Print, as Lead Writer, together with an advisory group, was then asked to prepare a more substantial Shape Paper for public review. This was widely distributed, reviewed, and received feedback including through a national forum in 2012. As Lead Writer and then Team Leader with an advisory group and writers for primary and secondary schools, Professor Print then produced the Australian Curriculum Civics and Citizenship (ACCC) which was subsequently distributed, reviewed, received feedback, and finalized by the end of 2013 (ACARA, 2014).
The influential Shape Paper (ACARA, 2012) had set the scene for what would be included in the final curriculum document. It was clear that Civics and Citizenship should be part of the formal school curriculum, though initially restricted to Years 3–10 as well as in wider whole-school programs: “this could include participation in experiences external to the school but linked to the school curriculum (for example, community activities, parliamentary education programs, civic institution visits and electoral commission programs)” (ACARA, 2012, p. 15).
By the time of writing the curriculum in 2013, it was evident that while knowledge and understanding of the nation, its government, its legal system, and institutions were a key component of the formal curriculum, so too was community-based learning experiences.
Curriculum development should be transparent at key stages and this principle was applied to the development of the ACCC. Shape Paper as a formative curriculum document, for example, was given a three-month period for public response, comments from which were incorporated into the revised version. This process reflected the competing visions of stakeholders as to what should constitute the ACCC.
Guided by the influential Melbourne Declaration (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs [MCEETYA], 2008) the ACCC curriculum aims to reinforce students’ appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a citizen. It explores ways in which students can actively shape their lives, value their belonging in a diverse and dynamic society, and positively contribute locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. As reflective, active, and informed decision-makers, students should be well placed to contribute to an evolving and healthy democracy that fosters the wellbeing of Australia as a democratic nation. More specifically, the ACCC aims to ensure that students develop:
In addition the ACCC seeks to enhance student understanding and application of liberal democratic values such as freedom of expression, association, religion, rights and responsibilities, equity, intercultural understanding, sustainability, democratic identity, and global citizenship.
To achieve these goals the ACCC consists of three key themes based around the major goal of building and sustaining Australian democracy:
Within each of these key themes, content was identified in terms of knowledge, skills, and values. While knowledge and skills were clearly stated at each age level from Years 3–10, identification of values was across all years of schooling. In this context, the Australian Curriculum Civics and Citizenship emphasized values such as dialogue, participation, tolerance, respect, and democratic practices in society.
Before the ACCC could be officially endorsed for application in schools, however, a politically inspired review conducted in 2104 recommended several changes (Australian Government, 2014). Surprisingly, most of the review recommendations were politely and conveniently ignored by the federal government in its response. Although, the government did respond to pressure for less subject matter content and other changes in the ACCC including an increased emphasis on the Australian Constitution (Australian Government, 2014). As the Australian Government was experiencing severe public backlash to many elements of its broader educational program at the time, such as the proposed fee deregulation for universities, it was now politically expedient for the finally approved Australian Curriculum to diminish the rhetoric of the previously politically inspired review (Print, 2016). The main changes adopted for CCE by the Education Council included the integration of the subjects History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, and Business into a single entity called Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) for the primary school years, as well as greater emphasis on the origins of the Australian system of government including its constitution.
The Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship (ACCC) was finally endorsed by the Education Council, the meeting of all Australian Ministers of Education, in September 2015. The ACCC 2013 version had previously been supported by all state and territory governments throughout its development process and agreed for use in their schools subject to individual state adjustments. However, the politically inspired review demonstrated that curriculum can be affected by current political ideologies as was this case of politically conservative views. Consequently, although ACARA had released the 2013 Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship v7.2 version for use by education systems and schools from 2014 (ACARA, 2014), this version has now been replaced with the later modified v8 (ACARA, 2016).
As with any curriculum developed for schools, there are several challenges facing the implementation of the ACCC in all of Australia’s 9,450 primary and secondary schools. Many of these challenges reflect Australia’s federal political system where the states or jurisdictions have constitutional power over education. The most significant challenge is the timeline and nature of implementation that differs somewhat according to the different jurisdictions. For example, New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, was the only jurisdiction not to have started or planned to commence implementation of the ACCC by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, to complicate matters, some states had commenced implementing the v7.2 version while others planned to implement the post-review 2015 v8 version. Victoria developed its own curriculum using the Australian Curriculum merely as an informing document.
Second, and importantly for any newly implemented curriculum, teachers continue to require extensive professional development to implement the ACCC effectively, and this has not been forthcoming. Third, limited teaching resources are available for the ACCC with responsibility for provision vested with the jurisdictions, sectors, schools, and teachers. Fourth, the next generation of teachers will require teacher education programs that reflect the ACCC as it is implemented within the Australian jurisdictions. Fifth, how Australian schools will integrate ACCC into growing initiatives in global citizenship is another challenge. Finally, how the ACCC, and CCE more generally, can engage more young Australians to become active, informed citizens is a long term challenge. Despite these challenges, the implementation of the ACCC will continue albeit slowly.
The development of school curriculum in many countries is still very centralized. The National School Curriculum as a program of learning is a highly sensitive document as it contains the aspiration of the nation, preparing its citizen to face future challenges. It is a document of hope. However, much of the excitement during the adoption of the curriculum documents has diminished and has been replaced by disappointment in the implementation stage, as there are gaps between the aspiration and the actual implementation. These gaps are inevitable as there is no perfect system that ensures seamless coordination between the different sectors involved. Often, there is a problem with the orchestration of a large-scale systemic change, and a failure to deliberate human factors sufficiently. This paper looks into the various factors influencing curriculum implementation, especially looking at it as a change process.
Keywords: Curriculum Implementation, Change Management in Curriculum Implementation
Effective curriculum implementation is crucial for the success of any curriculum innovation; it is the real test of the change. However, in many cases, research indicated that much of what is planned does not get implemented (National Institute for Educational Research of Japan [NIER], 1999; Nor Puteh, 1994; Ornstein & Hunkins, 1993; Siti Hawa, 1986). This is not surprising as curriculum implementation entails extensive and concerted involvement of many stakeholders. It often requires restructuring habits, reforming thoughts, and deeper conceptual understanding of instructional methodology among the implementers. This takes time and much planning. Existing literature on curriculum implementation looks at the issue from two perspectives, curriculum implementation as instruction and curriculum implementation as a change process.
Curriculum Implementation as Classroom Instruction
The first perspective on curriculum implementation equates it with instruction, or the actual teaching and learning that happened in the class. It is the engagement of learners with the curriculum and the planned learning opportunities (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977; Macdonald, 1965; Saylor, Alexander, & Lewis 1981). It is the implementation of the curriculum plan (Saylor & Alexander, 1974). Fullan & Pomfret (1977) asserted that “implementation is not simply an extension of planning and adoption processes, it is a phenomenon in its own right” (p. 336). Curriculum experts holding this school of thought thus contemplate on issues of planning of instruction, teacher’s behavior, and teaching models. The scope is confined to the lessons conducted by teachers, a result of teacher’s implementation of the curriculum in the classroom.
Instructional plans are made as a result of the second level of curriculum development (Remillard, 1999) where the teacher deliberates on the curriculum documents, and adapts or translates them into classroom activities appropriate to the students. This level of curriculum development is where teachers link their understanding of the curriculum to their practice, transforming curriculum plan into instruction. What influences the decision and choice teachers made at this point of pre-instructional planning? Saylor et al. (1981) suggested the ‘screens’ given in Figure 1. Cronin-Jones’s (1991) study on science teachers discovered the ‘screens’ as beliefs about how students learn, the teacher’s role in the classroom, the ability levels of students, and the relative importance of content topics. Ng’s (2010, 2013, 2015) study on the implementation of the Malaysian thinking curriculum found the ‘screens’ as personal characteristics, conceptions of a thoughtful classroom, and the role they played in their classroom. In the process of translating curriculum into actual classroom instruction, teachers have been found to consciously or subconsciously consider factors such as these ‘screens’ in making curriculum decisions. Thus, there is a need to identify these factors in each country to understand and predict the success of curriculum implementation.
A: Community values and expectations
B: Pupil needs, interests, capabilities, role in planning
C: Educational environment - class organisation, materials, administrative support and constraints
D: Teacher’s final decision on an appropriate instructional plan
Figure 1. A Rational Static Model for Linking a Curriculum Plan and Instruction. Adapted from Curriculum planning for better teaching and learning (4th ed.), by J.G. Saylor, W.M. Alexander, and J.J. Lewis, 1981, p. 261. Copyright 1981 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Curriculum Implementation as a Change Process
The second perspective on curriculum implementation is that of a change process. Various terms have emerged such as putting the curriculum to work (Beauchamp, 1975), implementing curriculum change (Armstrong, 1989), and curriculum improvement (Tanner & Tanner, 1995). Following this perspective, acceptance of change, change agents, commitment to change, and the roles of stakeholders are the focus. The orientation is towards management of change.
Among factors that contribute to the success of change is the commitment of the stakeholders towards this change. Beauchamp (1975) specifically relates it to the “commitment of teachers to use the curriculum as a point of departure for the development of instructional strategies” (p. 165). One interesting barrier to this commitment is teachers’ fear of interference and imposition onto their autonomy in deciding the teaching strategies they think are appropriate to their students (Beauchamp, 1975). Beauchamp (1975) proposed that curriculum planners consciously create more flexible curriculum design and institute realistic implementation procedure to counter this fear. Teachers’ inputs are crucial in creating such realistic design and procedures. One effective method is to involve teachers in the process of curriculum development. Beauchamp (1975) reported that there is a significant relationship between teachers’ participation in curriculum development and their implementation of the curriculum. Teachers’ willingness to participate should not be taken for granted; teachers need to be motivated to implement changes in curriculum.
Teachers’ motivation is another major component in curriculum implementation as a change process (Makewa & Ngussa, 2015). Makewa and Ngussa (2015) observed that teachers’ autonomy and creativity are increasingly being curtailed by control and regulation from the authority and teachers are being asked to do more with less (resources and incentives). Through literature reviews and research findings, Makewa and Ngussa (2015) found that working with children is the main determinant of teacher’s job satisfaction. Generally teachers feel motivated when what they do benefits society, and they are able to spend a sufficient proportion of their time working with children. In other words, to motivate teachers to adopt to curriculum change, they need to be convinced that they are contributing towards education at large, and that their contribution will make a difference in the lives of their students.
The identification and deliberation of the stakeholders’ role in curriculum implementation is essential in discussing change management. It is important to be aware that there are stakeholders other than school leaders and teachers who are involved in many different ways as curriculum affects them directly or indirectly as shown in Table 1.
Stakeholders in Curriculum Implementation and Their Roles
Responsibilities and roles
Students are the very reason a curriculum is developed; their active and direct involvement will make or unmake the curriculum. Thus, the characteristics of students need to be a consideration in making any curriculum plan.
Teachers interpret the curriculum: they are designers as well as decision makers in executing the curriculum. They write lesson plans or unit plans daily, weekly, or yearly. They prepare activities for students to do and modify the curriculum to suit the learner’s characteristics. Teachers need to be motivated to implement curriculum change.
School principals are curriculum managers. They play an important role in shaping the school curriculum. They are responsible in the formulation of the schools’ vision and mission which must be aligned with the curriculum change. They need to ensure there is continuity, relevance, and balance in the implementation of the curriculum.
Effective parental involvement in school affairs is linked to high- quality educational experiences for the students. Parent involvement extends from the school to the home, ensuring a continuity in the philosophy behind the curriculum change.
Community involvement include professional organisations, civil society, as well as individuals in the community. The community members can provide expertise, and resources to aid curriculum implementation.
Government as stakeholders
Government officers include those from the planning, developing, regulatory, and monitoring departments at various levels. They need to understand the curriculum change. Often, issues of curriculum implementation stem from a silo mentality among these governmental offices.
There is a need to recognize that change does not happen in isolation, as it impacts the whole organization, the whole system. The stakeholders enumerated in Table 1 need to work as a team. Change management focuses on the people who affect the change (Cameron & Green, 2012) and a structured approach which aims to ensure coordination and coherence. This approach involves having a shared vision; establishing a sense of urgency for change; creating a guiding coalition; developing synergised strategies; communicating the change; empowering action; and, ensuring a more sustainable change in working culture (Kotter, 2012). It is only through this systematic and structured manner that changes can be thoroughly and smoothly implemented. The key idea is to bring stakeholders from the current situation to the new one. In the process, policies and strategies need to be developed and its implementation monitored. However, readiness for change must first be ensured before monitoring and regulatory measures step in. It is only when the people within the organisation make their own personal transitions to adapt and change that the organisation can reap the benefits of change (International Bureau of Education [IBE], 2013; Cameron & Green, 2012). Leadership need to help and support the people through these individual transitions. Thus, communication plan and identification of change agents is of utmost importance. Success indicators need to be determined and on-going assessment made to adjust each step to ensure success.
Curriculum Implementation as a System
In ensuring effective curriculum implementation, one need to consider it from the perspective of both instruction and change. Although classroom instruction is the most direct manifestation of curriculum change, one needs to look from a broader and deeper perspective; as instruction changes to be aligned with curriculum change, a sustainable change in teachers’ behavior is probably what policy makers desire; a leading edge shift in the way textbooks are written is actually what society requires; and, ultimately, a change in how community and society view education and learning outcomes is the ultimate purpose of the curriculum change. A change of this scale needs engagement with all stakeholders. There is a real need to pay more attention to the process of establishing mechanisms that facilitate change which ultimately support teachers’ classroom instruction (IBE, 2013) in a more sustainable manner. This requires us to look upon curriculum as a system (Beauchamp, 1975; Ornstein, 1995; Saylor & Alexander, 1974). A system consists of a set of interrelated components organised to attain the ends (goals and objectives) for which the system is established. With a systems approach, the objectives are always placed in the center of decision-making. A systems approach provides the planners and implementors of the plan with a systematic and comprehensive view of the whole process of curriculum implementation. Beauchamp (1975) described the system as consisting of the “personnel organisation and the organised procedures needed to produce a curriculum, to implement it, to appraise it, and to modify it in light of experience” (p. 59). It involves continuous decision making and actions. Besides the curriculum system, there are many other systems at work in the educational institutions as shown in the Appendix. Each system is essential for the effective running of educational institutions at various levels. The planning and carrying out of these systematic processes is known as curriculum engineering (Beauchamp, 1975; Ornstein & Hunkins, 1993). Effective curriculum engineering is essential to reduce the gap between the aspired curriculum and the implemented curriculum. This entails establishing a comprehensive long-term plan covering areas of teacher education, resource production and distribution, assessment, professional development, supervision, and monitoring. The role and responsibility of various stakeholders has to be ascertained and action plans have to be drawn up at state, district, and school levels. The important element of coherence and components of interaction between these sub-systems must be put in place so that the silo mentality does not hinder the success of the curriculum implementation.
Challenges in Curriculum Implementation
Curriculum is a political agreement; it outlines the government’s national agenda (IBE, 2013). It is a policy and technical agreement with the people as it consists of the expectations of the society (IBE, 2013). It needs the support of both the government and the people. The urgency of change at times can be overwhelming and thus, insufficient attention is given to managing the change. The time needed for change is largely being ignored. In such instances, curriculum implementation might suffer as the teachers might not be ready for the change, or resources and infrastructure have not been made sufficient. Coherence among the various agencies has not been established, leaving many gaps which may affect the success of curriculum implementation.
National level change will definitely incur huge cost. While private sector may use a substantial portion of its fund, up to 20% to introduce and spearhead change, the public sector may spend up to only 1% only of its available resources on change-oriented efforts and in many instances educators might even work overtime without extra pay to adjust to the change (IBE, 2013). This might be one reason for the gap between the aspired curriculum and curriculum implementation.
Successful curriculum implementation often implies a change of habit; in other words, it is a cultural change. Changes involving beliefs and values are difficult to implement. It takes time and persistence. Examples of such change are from teacher-centered to student-centered learning and from a focus on national examinations to school-based assessment. The stakeholders need evidence to convince them of the worthiness of such change and to give them the confidence that this change will produce better outcomes. Often, there is an information gap between policy makers, curriculum developers, curriculum implementers, and society at large.
Employing systems management in curriculum implementation is yet another challenge as a silo mentality has been the norm in many administrations. Coordinating and ensuring coherence among the various departments and agencies vertically and horizontally is more difficult than we can anticipate, and yet the success of curriculum implementation is heavily dependent on this coherence. The process of planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating various parts of the system necessitates intelligent and sometimes shrewd maneuvering. Vision and objectives must be clear; action plans strategic and thorough; agents of change and leadership identified.
Change causes unease. This is especially true for changes in education systems which affect many members of society. People generally have a tendency towards conservatism and trying to maintain the status quo. Defensiveness may set in, making it difficult to even initiate the change. The biggest challenge in education is to convince the huge numbers of implementers of the change and to sustain that change. In order to ensure better success of curriculum implementation, we need to look at curriculum implementation as a change process and develop the system to manage the change. For the curriculum implementers to deliver what has been put forth in the curriculum documents carrying the national aspiration, the support system must be in place. It takes a lot of time and effort for there are no shortcuts in curriculum implementation.
Armstrong, D. G. (1989). Developing and documenting the curriculum. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Beauchamp, G.A. (1975). Curriculum theory (3rd ed.). Illinois: The KAGG Press.
Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2012). Making sense of change management (3rd ed.). Britain: Kogan Page.
Cronin-Jones, L. L. (1991). Science teacher beliefs and their influence on curriculum implementation: Two case studies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28(3), 235–250.
Fullan, M., & Pomfret, A. (1977). Research on curriculum and instruction implementation. Review of Educational Research, 47(1), 335–397.
International Bureau of Education – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation & Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2013). Training tools for curriculum development: A resource pack for gender-responsive STEM education. Geneva: IBE.
Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
Macdonald, J. B. (1965). Educational models for instruction: Introduction. In J. B. Macdonald & R. R. Leeper (Eds.), Theories of instruction (pp. 1–7). Washington, D. C.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.
Makewa, L. N., & Ngussa, B. M. (2015). Curriculum implementation and teacher motivation: A theoretical framework. In N. P. Ololube, P. J. Kpolovie, & L. N. Makewa (Eds.), Handbook of research on enhancing teacher education with advanced instructional technologies (pp. 244–258). Pennsylvania: IGI Global.
National Institute for Educational Research of Japan. (1999). An international comparative study of school curriculum. Japan: NIER.
Ng, S. B. (2010). Creating thoughtful classroom, implementation of thoughtful science curriculum by master teachers. Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.
Ng, S. B. (2013). Creating a best practice of thoughtful chemistry classroom. Malaysia Science and Mathematics Education Journal, 3(2), 106–127.
Ng, S. B. (2015). Conception of thoughtful teaching by four master teachers in Malaysia. The Malaysian Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(1), 44–59.
Nor Puteh, S. (1994). The development and implementation of the Integrated Curriculum for Secondary School (KBSM) in Malaysian secondary schools (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Sussex, United Kingdom.
Ornstein, A. C. (1995). Curriculum, instruction and supervision: Their relationship and the role of the principal. In A. C. Ornstein & L. S. Behar (Eds.), Contemporary issues in curriculum (pp. 281¬–287). Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon.
Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (1993). Curriculum foundations, principles and issues. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Remillard, J. T. (1999). Curriculum materials in Mathematics education reform: A framework for examining teachers’ curriculum development. Curriculum Inquiry, 29(3), 315–342.
Saylor, J. G., & Alexander, W. M. (1974). Planning curriculum for schools. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Saylor, J. G., Alexander, W. M., & Lewis, J. J. (1981). Curriculum planning for better teaching and learning (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Siti Hawa, A. (1986). Implementing a new curriculum for primary school, a case study from Malaysia (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of London, United Kingdom.
Tanner, D. & Tanner, L. (1995). Curriculum development: Theory into practice (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Adapted from Creating thoughtful classroom, implementation of thoughtful science curriculum by master teachers, by S. B. Ng, 2010, p. 33. Copyright 2010 by Lambert Academic Publishing.