Innovative opportunity and school culture : a study of curriculum innovation in two secondary schools
The aim of this research is to explore the social mechanisms and processes of curriculum change in two secondary schools, an urban secondary modern and a rural high school. The implementation of the Geography for the Young School Leaver Project provided the initial impetus for the research but as the schools' response to innovation was explored, other Projects and school-based initiatives became an integral part of the study. A first assumption was that the teaching in any curriculum area is partly determined by the system characteristics or cultural norms of the school. The thesis examines the negotiations between the innovators and the various reality definers. Value conflicts which surround the idea of educational change are often treated superficially. This research examines some of the conflicts engendered by innovation at a personal and ideological level. The style of the research was in an anthropological and phenomenological mode. An open-ended illuminative stance allowed issues immediate to the life of the schools to be explored. The researcher adopted an observer role. In one school, the GYSL Project was seen as a pathfinder for curriculum development. For some staff in the other school, the Project was perceived as reactionary, resulting in a process/content debate becoming the central issue. The research indicated that while senior management within a school can encourage curricular initiatives and provide a supportive framework, micro-politics and above all the personal philosophy and values of teachers, are the major determinants of a school's response to change in the curriculum.