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Peter Oliva's Ten General Axioms of Curriculum Development

Curriculum change is inevitable, necessary, and desirable.


Schools and school systems grow and develop in proportion to their ability to respond to
change and adapt to changing conditions. Society and its institutions continuously
encounter problems to which they must respond.
Curriculum both reflects and is a product of its time.
The curriculum responds to, and is changed by, factors such as social forces,
philosophical positions, psychological principles, accumulating knowledge, and
educational leadership at its moment in history.
Curriculum changes made at an earlier period of time can exist concurrently with
newer curriculum changes.
Curriculum revision rarely starts and ends abruptly. Changes can coexist and overlap for
long periods of time. Usually curriculum is phased in and phased out on a gradual basis.
Curriculum change depends on people to implement the change.
People who will implement the curriculum should be involved in its development. When
individuals internalize and own the changes in curriculum, the changes will be effective
and long-lasting.
Curriculum development is a cooperative group activity.
Significant and fundamental changes in curriculum are brought about as a result of group
decisions. Any significant change in the curriculum should involve a broad range of
stakeholders to gain their understanding, support, and input.
Curriculum development is a decision-making process in which choices are made
from a set of alternatives.
Examples of decisions curriculum developers must make include what to teach, what
philosophy or point of view to support, how to differentiate for special populations, what
methods or strategies to use to deliver the curriculum, and what type of school
organization best supports the curriculum.
Curriculum development is an ongoing process.
Continuous monitoring, examination, evaluation, and improvement of curricula are
needed. No curriculum meets the needs of everyone. As the needs of learners change, as
society changes, and as new knowledge and technology appear, the curriculum must
change.
Curriculum development is more effective if it is a comprehensive process, rather
than a piecemeal process.
Curriculum development should not be a hit or miss proposition, but should involve
careful planning and be supported by adequate resources, needed time, and sufficient

personnel.
Curriculum development is more effective when it follows a systematic process.
A set of procedures, or models, for curriculum should be established in advance, and be
known and accepted by all who are involved in the process. The model should outline
the sequence of steps to be followed for the development of the curriculum.
Curriculum development starts from where the curriculum is.
Most curriculum planners begin with existing curriculum. Oliva advises planners to "hold
fast to that which is good."
From: Oliva, Peter F. Developing the curriculum: Sixth edition. NY: Longman 2003, pp 28-41.