Background of Curriculum

Historical Background

Curriculum is typically considered to be the official written document from a higher authority, such as the local school district or school board. Such a document is seen as a mandated template that must be followed by all teachers. Unfortunately, in many cases, teachers are supposed to follow such a mandated curriculum.

Historical Definitions of Curriculum:

  1. "A sequence of potential experiences is set up in the school for the purpose of disciplining children and youth in group ways of thinking and acting. This set of experiences is referred to as the curriculum." (Smith, et al., 1957)
  2. "A general over-all plan of the content or specific materials of instruction that the school should offer the student by way of qualifying him for graduation or certification or for entrance into a professional or vocational field." (Good, 1959)
  3. "A curriculum is a plan for learning." (Taba, 1962)
  4. All the experiences a learner has under the guidance of the school." (Foshay, 1969)
  5. "The planned and guided learning experiences and intended outcomes, formulated through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experience, under the auspices of the school, for the learner's continuous and willful growth in person-social competence." (Tanner and Tanner, 1975)
  6. "Curriculum is often taken to mean a course of study. When we set our imaginations free from the narrow notion that a course of study is a series of textbooks or specific outline of topics to be covered and objectives to be attained, broader more meaningful notions emerge. A curriculum can become one's life course of action. It can mean the paths we have followed and the paths we intend to follow. In this broad sense, curriculum can be viewed as a person's life experience." (Connelly and Clandinin, 1988)

Definitions 1 – 5 are typically those that relate to how teachers and administrators view curriculum. In fact, these seem to underlie the assumptions about schooling that are held by children and parents. In general, these five definitions and their related assumptions about schooling and learning tend to undermine effective integration. However, definition #6 may provide a view that is more consistent with an integrated curriculum that is more meaningful, relevant, interesting, and engaging.

  • At this point, how is curriculum being "defined" or conceived?

While we haven't dug into some of the critical issues facing teachers at this point in the course. Keep track of how you may re-work the answer to this question over the next few weeks.

Also see the Preserve Articles website for their list of curriculum definitions from historical experts on curriculum.

© 2006 by Jeffrey W. Bloom

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