University of Athens (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 5534-5542
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Massive educational innovations are being introduced worldwide in an effort to prepare learners for the changing national and international reality. Despite our increased knowledge of the attributes of successful innovations, innovations are still being implemented with limited success (Waters 2009,Harris 2003). Theories of change management, categorizations of innovation attributes and knowledge of factors affecting implementation are certainly useful in raising our awareness of the complexity of innovations, but they cannot by nature explain why certain innovation attempts succeed in certain contexts and not in others. This is because every educational innovation is defined by the context within which it is practiced. The novelty, the change in practice and the perception of value of any innovation are all context specific (Kennedy 1988, Rogers 2005) .In order to understand whether an innovation has the potential for successful implementation, a clear understanding of the wider educational, administrative, political and cultural context in which the innovation is to be practiced is necessary. The example of the newly reformed foreign languages curriculum for primary and secondary schools in Greece is a case in point.

As part of the wider reform in all levels of education taking part in Greece, a new curriculum common for all foreign languages , was developed in 2010 and implemented on a pilot basis in a selected number of schools during the school year 2011-2012. The curriculum presents a major breakthrough in foreign language education in Greece overcoming many of the problems plaguing public foreign language education for decades. Despite the fact that conscious efforts were made to identify the cultural shift that the practices implied by the new curriculum will represent to teachers and what sort of support they will need and also to identify the kinds of adjustments and changes that will be required to support the introduction of new practices (Wedell 2003), implementation efforts have been meager to non-existent. The factors that seem to emerge as obstructing the implementation of this innovation are related to the wider social and economic circumstances surrounding the Greek political context. Political instability, massive cuts in funding for education, significant and continuous cuts in the salaries of all education providers, have depleted the education sector of all its trust towards government reforms and have left education providers with no motivation to develop new skills and knowledge needed for the implementation of this innovation. Thus, despite the fact that teachers have expressed positive attitudes towards the new foreign languages curriculum, its implementation has been met with great resistance by education providers. This paper will focus on the factors that have affected the implementation of curriculum reform in Greece highlighting the influence of the contingencies of the wider social, political and economic context in innovation uptake. Using the new common foreign languages as a case in point, the presentation will discuss how innovations that have the necessary, according to the literature, attributes may still meet with widespread resistance due to factors that have nothing to do with the quality or management of the innovation but to factors of the wider political and social context..