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Time and teacher control in curriculum adoption: Lessons from the ‘Lighthouse School Projects’

Principal investigators

David Blades, University of Victoria

Dr. Blades is a professor with the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Victoria. His current research interests are theory and philosophy of science education, post-structuralist approaches to curriculum theory, curriculum of technology and the possibilities of world citizenship.

Research Assistants

  • Marcilia Taveira, English as a foreign language curriculum adaptation: A constructivist model for enriching teacher class planning at a language institute in Brazil. (2007). Master of Education project, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.
  • Kirsten Brooks, Building life skills through a grade five unit on forces and simple machines. (2008). Master of Education project, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.


Research on curriculum change reveals that top-down initiatives are generally unsuccessful due to many factors, including the lack of teacher time to address change requirements and inability to control the implementation process. This case study reports on a project involving an elementary school where teachers were provided with funding that enabled teachers to have the time to implement a new science education curriculum and total control over the change process. Initially conceived as a “lighthouse” project of peer interschool development, the teachers re-conceptualized the concept of “lighthouse” to serve their particular, local interests. Teacher control translated into unit planning and changes in the direction of funding support towards the middle school receiving students from the elementary school. While teachers were enthusiastic about this change in process and the availability of time to plan, analysis of the science education units developed at both schools reveals that curriculum change is complex and difficult, not easily addressed by providing time for planning or by locating teachers as the sole agents of the change process.



  • Blades, D. (in press). Time and teacher control in curriculum adoption: Lessons from the Lighthouse School Project. In L. D. Yore, E. Van der Flier-Keller, D. W. Blades, T. W. Pelton, & D. B. Zandvliet (Eds.), Pacific CRYSTAL centre for science, mathematics, and technology literacy: Lessons learned. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.
  • Blades, D. (2008). Positive growth: Developments in the philosophy of science education. Curriculum Inquiry 38 (4): 387-400.

Conference Presentation

  • Blades, D. (2008). CRYSTALs lighthouse school project: Curriculum change in science education through peer mentorship. Paper presented at the 2008 annual conference of the Canadian Society for the Studies of Education, Vancouver: University of British Columbia, May 30 (referred).
  • Blades, David and the Pacific CYRSTAL Project Team (2008). Pacific CRYSTAL Project: Partnerships that enrich hands-on science experiences. Invited workshop at the B.C. Catalyst Conference, Grand Okanagan Lakefront Conference Centre, Kelowna, B.C.: April 26.
  • Blades, David (2010). Sciencing with young children: The E-D-U model. Invited keynote address and workshop to the Greater Victoria Primary Teachers’ Association Professional Development Day, Victoria: Richmond Elementary School, January 20.

Instructional Resources

  • Field-developed instructional units and materials for hands-on teaching for K-9 science education in British Columbia were developed with the support of the Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Understanding Science. For a list of units and costs for copies, contact the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Victoria.





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