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Fads, Fashions, and Rituals: The Instability of Curriculum Change


by Herbert M. Kliebard — 1988

I should like to offer four hypotheses that could account for the occurrence of cyclical change in curriculum affairs as it is commonly observed. The first has to do with a boundless expansion of the scope of the curriculum in conjunction with direct and immediate utility as the supreme criterion of success. Second, because the rhetoric of reform is usually more powerful than the opposition, a reform is inaugurated without the accompanying structural changes in the system that are needed in order to make it succeed. Third, the changes themselves do not so much take the form of one curriculum ideology actually replacing another as they do a resurfacing of a temporarily submerged position in the light of favorable social and political conditions. And finally, rapid changes in curriculum fashion are related to the rise of a professional class of school administrators whose professional status and perhaps even their survival depend simply on being at least as up-to-date as the school system down the road.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 87, No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 89 Number 5, 1988, p. 16-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18950, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 3:37:15 AM

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About the Author
  • Herbert Kliebard
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
    HERBERT M. KLIEBARD is a professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison in the departments of curriculum and instruction and educational policy studies.
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