The term "curriculum" is not a straight forward word that can be defined nor its depth appreciated. Further investigation into this topic reveals that the art and science of curriculum building is a complex field that many authors, scholars or academic writers each have a different definition describing what curriculum means to them. This essay will attempt to address issues such as various definitions of curriculum, its purpose or goal, how it is developed, its structure, how it is influenced by different learning theories, the processes of teaching,
The word curriculum originates from a Latin word which means “a race” or “the course of the race”. Indeed, for many leaners and teachers ...view middle of the document...
The definition of curriculum can be further viewed from a narrow or a broad perspective. The narrow definition looks at a curriculum as a plan while the broad definition is more inclusive concept that compromises all the opportunities for learning and is viewed in historical perspective in its sociopolitical context. Despite there been differing definition from many authors the fundamental principle that is common in all definition’s is that curriculum is all about planning.
Under some definitions, curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. However the term syllabus should not be confused with the term curriculum they are not the same but rather they complement each other. The word syllabus in Greek means a concise statement or table of the topics of a discourse or the list of contents of a subject. Such a document has a series of headings with some additional notes which sets out the arrears to be examined.
In seeking to understand the better role of the curriculum in the 21st century, the purpose should be to ensure that students are well equipped to whatever it is that this century will call them to do and be", while Marsh and Willis (2007, as cited in Marsh, 2010, p.93) define curriculum as "an interrelated set of plans and experiences which a student completes under the guidance of the school". Other definitions of the curriculum surface dependent on the stakeholders in question.
Curriculum can be envisaged from different perspectives. What societies envisage as important teaching and learning constitutes the “intended" curriculum. Since it is usually presented in official documents, it may be also called the "written" and/or "official" curriculum. However, at classroom level this intended curriculum may be altered through a range of complex classroom interactions, and what is actually delivered can be considered the "implemented" curriculum. What learners really learn (i.e. what can be assessed and can be demonstrated as learning outcomes/learner competencies) constitutes the "achieved" or "learned" curriculum. In addition, curriculum theory points to a "hidden" curriculum (i.e. the unintended development of personal values and beliefs of learners, teachers and communities; unexpected impact of a curriculum; unforeseen aspects of a learning process). Those who develop the intended curriculum should have all these different dimensions of the curriculum in view. While the "written" curriculum does not exhaust the meaning of curriculum, it is important because it represents the vision of the society. The "written" curriculum should therefore be expressed in comprehensive and user-friendly documents, such as curriculum frameworks; subject curricula/syllabuses, and in relevant and helpful learning materials, such as textbooks; teacher guides; assessment guides.
In some cases,...