#147. Changing Science Curriculum: Emerging Contradictions in the Curricular Praxis

Aluani, Tamara; Cristiano, Mattos; Brazil

The academic literature presents different theoretical biases that hold the curriculum concept’s polysemy, and there is an extensive international discussion about the concept of the curriculum. In Brazil, we’re confronting substantial imposed changes in government educational curricular construction guidelines that demand new ways to consider the Brazilian school curricula. In this project, we investigate what contradictions schools are facing due to the new governmental curricular demands. Our research is based on the Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), taking human activity as the subject-object-community unit. This unit allows an understanding of how the activity is sustained by coordinating human actions. Our main research question is: What institutional contradictions demand and culminate in the need for Science curricular changes in an educational institution? To answer this question, we use a case study of a Science curricular restructuration to investigate the agents and how their actions are mediated. The unit of analysis is a school activity modeled as a complex structure composed of hierarchical and retrofeeded multilevel structure. As the unity of analysis is not closed in itself, we consider the school activity’s mediation with the educational hierarchical system’s higher activities. The objectives of the activity, its multivocality, its contradictions, its historicity, and how the activity expands are elements we investigated (ENGESTRÖM, 2001). This initial research phase’s preliminary results indicate the coordination lack among different actions leads to uncoordinated curricular goals. The contradictions emerged by these uncoordinated actions were overcome by collective actions organized with the inclusion of a new hierarchical level in the science school team. We are still identifying the school activity’s hierarchical structures to data collection, believing that we could understand and overcome the emerging contradictions in a Science curricular change situation.

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Thank you for an interesting poster. In Sweden we have currently revised our national syllabi for biology, chemistry and physics. What major contradictios did you find in the Brazilian implementations and what potential expansions can you predict from these observations?
Kind regards

Country
Sweden
Affiliation
Swedish National Agency for Education

Dear Jens
Thank you for the question
The current curricular changes in Brazil propose formative paths intending to be a solution for the school dropout and a future orientation for professional training. At the same time, it presents contradictions such as the problematic implementation given the multiple and disparate educational realities in Brazil.
These difficulties range from infrastructure to teacher training. Identify these contradictions allows the planning of some strategies to overcome them, from programs for teacher training, investment in infrastructure, or even new curricular adaptations in the recent proposals implemented, unfortunately, the political period we are in, education and science have been denied as solutions to the social and economic crises we are experiencing. What is your experience in Sweden, the disciplinary syllabus changing generated new contradictions?

Country
Brasil
Affiliation
University of São Paulo - Brazil

Thanks for the response Tamara,

I understand the challenges to implement a new curriculum. The new syllabi in Sweden have just been approved by the parliament and not yet implemented. We revised the syllabi partly because we needed to separate the content and cognitive domains since the content heavy standards caused stress on teachers and students to cover a wide range of topics each semester rather than in-depth foci. Oddly enough, we also had to decrease 21st century skills in favour of factual and conceptual knowledge, since the public and media argued 21st century skills were to difficult for school students to develop. Considering the pendulum of Swedish school history, a future contradiction will probably be that in a decade or so the commercial and industrial world will complain that examinees have to few 21st century skills and the syllabi have to be revised again….

Country
Sweden
Affiliation
Swedish National Agency for Education