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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Humanities teaching in victorian secondary technical schools: problems and prospects Auer, Peter Rudolf


Important policy decisions, it seems, are frequently taken without prior and careful assessment of the likelihood of successful implementation. The theoretical assumption implicit in this study is that both the ease and fidelity with which policy gets formulated into practice is dependent upon some carefully thought through assessment of basic questions such as: how receptive will those who are to be responsible for their implementation be? do such persons have the requisite skills? attitudes? is the surrounding infrastructure adequate? The study focused upon a number of overarching questions which fall into two major categories. First, which are the most important influences in curriculum decision areas? What individuals, groups of people or circumstances are seen by Humanities teachers themselves to have the greatest influence? Second, in the opinion of Humanities teachers what are the major problems they perceive to exist in their teaching speciality Humanities teachers clearly saw their colleagues who teach at the same form (or grade) levels as influencing them most. Teachers of other form levels were seen as next most important curriculum influencers. Other individuals within schools, such as educational technologists and careers officers and some curriculum support personnel from outside schools such as regional consultants and method lecturers, were not seen as generally having much influence on curriculum decisions. Groups such as subject associations and subject standing committees were seen by teachers as having relatively little influence on their curriculum decisions. The two problems which were identified by the greatest number of teachers as being serious are concerned with the lack of time. One is insufficient time for curriculum development, the other, not enough time for lesson preparation. Two other problems perceived as serious by many teachers concern insufficiencies in teacher education - both initial and in-service. Of the problems stated the two viewed as being least serious were 'the number of staff members with very little teaching experience' and staff 'turnover' from one year to the next. There is one overriding observation that comes through as one reflects upon this study. And, that concerns the viability of decentralized, school-based curriculum decision making in secondary technical schools of Victoria. School-based curriculum decision processes require collaborative approaches and attitudes on the part of those involved. However, many of the findings seem: to support the view that Humanities teachers really prefer to work on their own, to operate as solo practitioners. Consequently, initial teacher training and in-service education programmes need to acknowledge and develop the skills and attitudes required for collegial curriculum development processes. What teachers need most for curriculum development is time - time for collaborative curriculum development activities and for lesson preparation, and increased provisions for appropriate in-service activities. The data of this study raise certain questions about how effective key personnel such as principals and heads of department are in providing leadership in the curriculum development field or in establishing the appropriate milieu for school-based curriculum decision-making. A further question raised is what resources is the Education Department willing to make available to ensure successful school-based curriculum development?

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