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What is ‘innovative curriculum’?

August 6, 2012

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Last Saturday was off to a mis-stepped beginning when there was no connecting bus for my 7.40 am train to get me to UNI. Luckily, a taxi waited outside Dome cafe, and I managed to make the start of this first session of our new unit focused on Leading Innovative Curriculum.

So what does that look like? If the form below is fully functional, it would be terrific to capture a range of ideas on this topic so we can compare notes.

Background reading for this unit is Colin Marsh’s Key Concepts For Understanding Curriculum and his outline of curriculum (Latin origins meaning racecourse) ranges across contexts, nods at social change, sketches political backdrops and history. But as we have seen in education for a number of years, as things change, so innovations recur and, paradoxically, curriculum remains the same.

Curriculum persists as content. The what of our teaching. Design, of course, is crucial, but it’s the implementation which can go awry (image of dust-gathering documentation). So adoption by teachers is paramount – this is the how do I do it part.

Many other variables affect the implementation process – the how. There’s the innovation itself, the local system (government), school level capacity, the district’s historical experience of change, and then a clutch of factors that sit outside those terms such as prevailing culture (can do school <——–>  stuck school), time for experimentation and allowing attitudes to shift, as well as time releasing energy for innovation – winning allies, creating conditions, and sharing the burden through collaborative processes.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Curriculum Innovation” target=”_blank”>Curriculum Innovation</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>wilsdom</a></strong> </div>

I don’t know about your school context, but most of the staff at my school feel overburdened with change; their reaction seems to suggest that any more, innovative or otherwise, would be too much.

Fullan (2001) outlines the process of school change: appreciation of the implementation dip; reculturing; not enough to have the best idea; never a checklist, always complexity; redefine resistance; and – the one I kept back for last – “the goal is not to innovate the most” (p. 34).

So where does that leave us? Innovate just enough for improvements? Innovate to sustain? Or innovate just enough?

I’ll be interested to learn your thoughts, and I’ll continue reading to refine mine.


Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Marsh, C.J. (2004). Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

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