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The Challenges and Trials of Curricular Change

The Challenges and Trials of Curricular Change

(p.143) Chapter Six The Challenges and Trials of Curricular Change
Schooling Selves
Peter Cave
University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at how junior high schools tackled the two central curricular changes implemented from 2002, Integrated Studies (sōgō gakushū) and the expansion of elective subjects. The chapter also explores how the schools were using small-group teaching and teaching differentiated by proficiency (“tracking” or “setting”). Most teachers were at best ambivalent about the major curricular changes of 2002. Implementation was unenthusiastic and often involved relabeling or expansion of existing practices. Teachers were also ambivalent about teaching differentiated by proficiency, but welcomed small-group teaching, though this did not seem to affect the way they taught. The chapter argues that these problems resembled those met by curricular reforms in other countries, and suggests that conflict with institutionalized beliefs and practices was a fundamental reason for their difficulties. It suggests that future reform can only be enabled by changes to key school structures and the development of professional learning communities in schools.

Keywords:   Integrated Studies, sōgō gakushū, elective subjects, small group teaching, tracking, setting, curricular reform, institutionalized, professional learning communities

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