AN OVERVIEW OF CURRICULUM Introduction Ever since the term curriculum was added to educators’ vocabularies, it has seemed to convey many things to many people. To some, curriculum has denoted a specific course, while to others it has meant the entire educational environment. Whereas perceptions of the term may vary, it must be recognized that curriculum encompasses more than a simple definition. Curriculum is a key element in the educational process; its scope is extremely broad, and it touches virtually everyone who is involved with teaching and learning.

Origin of Curriculum The idea of curriculum is hardly new – but the way we understand and theorize it has altered over the years – and there remains considerable dispute as to meaning. The word curriculum originated in ancient Rome as a chariot race course. Julius Caesar talked about which team of horses, driver, chariot would be able to run the curriculum fastest. It was, literally, a course. In Latin curriculum was a racing chariot; currere was to run. “Currere is derived from the Latin infinitive verb that means ‘to run the racecourse.

Historical Definitions of Curriculum Historical definitions typically envision curriculum as a planned sequence of learning or instructional experiences that a student/learner is subjected to under the auspices of the school. To be sure these definitions limited the application of curricular experiences to the school setting. Emergent definitions have looked at curriculum more broadly. According to Connelly and Clandinin curriculum “can be viewed as a person’s life experience. ” This definition sees merit due to the change in technology.

Connelly and Clandinins’ definition came several decades after Smith, Good, Taba, Foshay and Tanner. Technology has influenced the medium in which curriculum is delivered. There is no “traditional way” anymore. “One’s life course of action” will determine what will be studied and how. Influences and Developments Curriculum has had strong historical roots. From before Tyler crafted the major questions that we ask about curriculum (Tyler,1949), theorists have been concerned about the ways in which teachers and schools plan learning experiences for all learners.

These pre-occupations have influenced the development of Curriculum theory from the outset. Invariably, curriculum has long been influenced by factors outside of the school. Such influences include history, society, psychology and politics. Social and Political Influences and Curriculum Evolution Social and political developments have continuously contributed to ideas about the components and definitions of curriculum. At the turn of the century Franklin Bobbit constructed his definition of curriculum on the basis of objectives based on adult work life (Bobbit,1918).

Social emphasis was on the advancement of science and industry this approach also influenced the curriculum theories of other thinkers of the time. John Dewey’s definition of curriculum which though a more progressive in that it focused on learning by doing rather than rote learning and dogmatic instruction also maintained some influence from this area of science and industry. In 1891 William Torrey Harris introduced the idea of organized learning and learning with text books. Has practical application of a systematization of the curriculum laid the groundwork for an industrialized model of curriculum implementation.

Other societal influences to the curriculum include legal decisions and government policy. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case in the history of American education. The case was in response to social events which entrenched racialized schooling and curriculum in the United States. From the 1892 Plessy v. Ferguson case, the precedent of “separate but equal” was set, resulting in separate schools for white and black children. The Brown decision set the stage for more aggressive centralized decision- making at the Federal level with regards to public education.

It set the stage for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Department of Education would have been established in 1979, were it not for the Brown decision in 1954. Social and political influences have contributed to education having mandated norms. There are mandated times that are allotted for each subject as well as mandated subjects. In many sectors, such as local school districts and school boards, curriculum is considered to be the official written document from the higher authority.

Such a document is seen as a mandated template that must be followed by all teachers. Technology Advances Technological change is redefining not only how we communicate, but in turn, is redefining how we need to educate. The ready availability of information has lessened the necessity for a curriculum that is teacher centered and rooted in the aim to prepare citizens for an industrial society. The development of analytical skills and higher order thinking is increasingly an important focus of the modern curriculum.

The stakeholders and interest groups in this process are many and varied, with pressure for change and reform brought from teachers, schools and school councils, government authorities, industry and students themselves. All have differing perspectives on the best curriculum planning models to deal with this change. As technology advances and the world undergoes massive changes, theorists will redefine definitions. Influences of future times will regulate new definitions. It would only make sense for the definition of curriculum to change as advances have been made in the world and will continue to be made.

A true researcher or theorists will collect new data, conduct new experiments to challenge and add to the beginning founders definitions of curriculum. As you read and research you to will either create or adapt your own definition of curriculum and this definition will be a result of what is going on in the world, your economic status and your views of education. New technology based definitions would include wording to accommodate the times. In preparing for the working world, which at present is technical, curriculum would include electronic, computerized verbiage.

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What was once known as a textbook will become prehistoric. More and more computer based learning is occurring and curriculum will be designed to facilitate future life skills. Figure 1: source: http://en. wikibooks. org/wiki/File:Curriculum_Definitions. jpg Definitions of “Curriculum” Definitions of the curriculum varies from the simplest listing of subjects to be taken for a particular program or degree to the most complex definition as a learning experience to achieve a particular educational goal. This also suggests that there is no universally accepted definition of the term curriculum.

Allan Glatthorn (1987, p. 1) said : “Even experts can’t agree on what curriculum means. Below you will find a list of definitions of curriculum. 1. John Kerr defines curriculum as, ‘All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school. (quoted in Kelly 1983: 10; see also, Kelly 1999). This gives us some basis to move on – and for the moment all we need to do is highlight two of the key features: a. Learning is planned and guided. We have to specify in advance what we are seeking to achieve and how we are to go about it. . The definition refers to schooling. We should recognize that our current appreciation of curriculum theory and practice emerged in the school and in relation to other schooling ideas such as subject and lesson. 2. Allan Glatthorn defines curriculum as a plan made for guiding learning in schools, usually presented in retrievable documents of several levels of generality, and the implementation of those plans in the classroom; It also includes those experiences that take place in a learning environment that also influences what is learned. Glatthorn,) According to Flordeliza Reyes, (Engineering the Curriculum) Glatthorn’s definition is very comprehensive because it covers both the curriculum plans (guides) and their implementations (instruction). Reyes also stressed that the limitation of Glatthorn’s definition is that it excludes learning experiences, which are planned by the curriculum developer or by the teacher, but are not presented in written form or documents. (P. 1) 3.

Flordeliza Reyes defined curriculum as the totality of curricular content (subject matter) and learning experiences the learner goes through to achieve intended educational purposes or outcomes against which his progress will be evaluated. (Ibid. , ) Inherent in Reyes’ definition are the four basic anatomical components of the curriculum: a. Educational purposes or intended educational outcomes; b. Curricular content or subject matter covered by the curriculum; c. Learning experiences the student goes through; and d. Evaluation scheme to assess the extent to which the educational purposes or learning outcomes have been achieved. . Some authors define curriculum as the total effort of the school to bring about desired outcomes in school and out-of-school situations. It is also defined as a sequence of potential experiences set up in school for the purpose of disciplining children and youth in group ways of thinking and acting. a. Howell and Evans define curriculum a structured set of learning outcomes or tasks that educators usually call goals and objectives (1995). While other writers define curriculum as the “what of teaching”, or “listing of subjects to be taught in school. ” b. a plan or program for all the experiences that the leader encounters under the direction of the school. ” Peter F. Oliva (1997, p. 8) c. “Curriculum development is a process whereby the choices of designing a learning experience for students are made and then activated through a set of coordinated activities. ” Wiles & Bondi (1998, p. 3) d. “The ‘curriculum,’ refers not only to the official list of courses offered by the school—we call that the ‘official curriculum’—but also to the purposes, content, activities, and organization of the educational program actually created in schools by teachers, students, and administrators. Walker & Soltis (1997, p. 1) e. Curriculum is a verb, an activity, or for William Pinar, an inward journey. The modern curriculum development rationale has truncated the etymological meaning and reduced curriculum to a noun, the racecourse itself. Thus, generations of educators have been schooled to believe that the curriculum is a tangible object, the lesson plans we implement, or the course guides we follow, rather than the process of running the racecourse. ” Patrick Slattery (1995, p. 56) f. The curriculum of a school, or a course, or a classroom can be conceived of as a series of planned events that are intended to have educational consequences for one or more students. ” Elliot Eisner (1985, p. 45) g. “Curriculum is an explicitly and implicitly intentional set of interactions designed to facilitate learning and development and to impose meaning on experience. ” Miller & Seller (1990, p. 3) Thus, it can be said that a curriculum is a document which describes a structured series of learning objectives and outcomes for a given subject matter area.

It includes a specification of what should be learned, how it should be taught, and the plan for implementing/assessing the learning The Subsystems of Curriculum Inferring from the different definitions of curriculum, it can be deduced that there are three sub-systems. Garcia enumerates the following(Curriculum Design, p. 7-8) 1. The formal curriculum which normally refers to the Philosophy, Mission, Vision, Objectives of the school alongside with the subjects and the activities needed deliver the instruction.

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Lesson plans, session guides, modules, as well as syllabi are also considered part of the formal curriculum. In short, formal curriculum is the primary focus of the curriculum. 2. The Extra Class or Curriculum Extension includes co-curricular activities like school papers, various student organizations, convocations, and the like, as well as ancillary school services such as guidance service, library service, health, canteen and the like which are primarily intended to support the formal curriculum. 3. The Hidden Curriculum is either supportive of or contradictory to the formal curriculum and the extra curriculum.

The hidden curriculum includes the school policies, rules and regulations including school climate. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT vs CURRICULUM ENGINEERING Curriculum engineering is comprised of the following processes: curriculum development, (the process of improving an existing curriculum or making a new curriculum) curriculum implementation,(the process of ensuring that the planned or designed curriculum has been adapted or implemented) and curriculum evaluation (process of determining the effectiveness of the curriculum as well as the efficiency of its implementation).

Hence, curriculum engineering comprises all processes and activities that are necessary to keep the school curriculum dynamic and functional. (Reyes, p. 3) Curriculum development is defined as the process of selecting, organizing, executing and evaluating the learning experiences on the basis of the needs, abilities, and interest of learners, and on the basis of the nature of the society or community. (Saguil et al, p. 15) It takes into consideration the following factors: 1.

The nature of society which includes the cultural heritage, the needs and demands as well as the economic, social, political, cultural, moral and other concerns of the people; 2. The interest, the needs, previous experiences and problems of the learners; and 3. The educational and psychological principles based on the findings of scientific studies and experimentation. It can also be said that curriculum development is a continuous process for the possibilities of improving the teaching – learning situation.

Its goal is a positive change; process; transformation in the lives of the learners based on schools mission and goals. It should be produced in coordinated program of meaningful experiences for learner’s development. (2009 Ed. ) Curriculum development is a decision-making process that involves a variety of concerns. (Bago). An ideal curriculum engineering involves different stakeholders, ranging from the School superintendent, principals, and curriculum directors. (Beauchamp, 1981).

These shall be assisted by administrators and teachers who are either subject specialists, generalists, or trained curriculum specialists; experts in specific disciplines who act as consultants; a classroom teacher who is responsible for the implementation of the curriculum; lay persons who are experts from industry (industry practitioner); and students and alumni to give feedback regarding the curriculum being evaluated can be used for improvement purposes. (Reyes: p. 4) Subject or Course, Session or Lesson Plan, Syllabus, Field of Study & Program In order to have a better understanding of curriculum, the ollowing must be considered, though different from a curriculum, are related to the concept of curriculum: Subject (for Basic Education)/ Course for Tertiary and Graduate studies consists of learning content and experiences that can be completed by the learner within a school term for which a credit unit is earned. Philosophy, Philippine History, English 1, Math 1, are examples of subject or course. Session or Lesson Plan generally consists of objectives, content or subject matter, learning experience or activities, as well as evaluation of the learning. Syllabus

The single most important instrument of structure in a course is the SYLLABUS, which outlines the goals and objectives of a course, prerequisites, the grading/evaluation scheme, materials to be used (textbooks, software), topics to be covered, a schedule, and a bibliography. Each of these components defines the nature of the learning experience. Goals and objectives identify the expected outcomes and scope of the course as determined by the instructor or course designer, restricting the domain of knowledge for the learner. Prerequisites limit the student population to those with certain kinds of learning experiences, usually other courses.

The grading or evaluation scheme tells students what kind of learning activities are to be valued (e. g. , assignments, tests, papers, projects), that is, the currency of learning in this particular course. Topics to be covered specify the content that the instructor feels is important. The schedule provides a timetable for learning, usually with milestones in the form of due dates or tests. Field of Study refers to a combination of subjects or courses comprising one of the standard disciplines that can be completed by a learner across school terms.

Example, Social Science as a field of study is comprised of but not limited to History, Sociology, Economics, Psychology. Program is usually completed in more than one year. It is the most expansive example or part of curriculum. The completion of a program enables the learner to proceed to the next or higher level of schooling such as nursery to kindergarten, preparatory, elementary, secondary tertiary, graduate to post graduate studies. Other terms Related to Curriculum Engineering Curriculum Plan is the advance arrangement of learning opportunities for a particular population of learners.

Curriculum Guide is the written curriculum plan. Curriculum Planning is the process whereby these arrangements of curriculum plans or learning opportunities are created. Curriculum Laboratory is a place or workshop where curriculum materials are gathered or used by teachers or learners of curriculum. Resource Unit is a collection or suggested learning activities and materials organized around a given topic or area which a teacher might utilize in planning, developing, and evaluating a learning unit.