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Concept of curriculum

Educational practitioners are all familiar with the term 'curriculum', yet the task of defining the concept of a curriculum is extremely difficult because it has taken on several quite different meanings over time. Take the following two quotes from Boyle and Charles:

The intention of the curriculum is that it provides a breadth of structured learning opportunities and experiences which will support the progressive and measurable development of pupils within that range of differential pace of assimilation, understanding and challenge found in the complexity of a school situation.

Boyle and Charles (2016 p.1)

And yet, 'the idea that the curriculum is designed to preserve certain interests provides the basis for a realistic assessment of the barriers to curriculum change and the extent to which changes are resisted for ideological as well as educational reasons.

Boyle & Charles (2016 p.13)

It stands to reason then, that an organisation must state the philosophical and ideological aims that underpin the design of the curriculum and the content offered within it.

It is critically important that you know where you stand.

Lofthouse (1995, p. 9)

Definitions can vary enormously in both their breadth and their emphasis. Here are several examples taken from Marsh and Willis (2003):

Please select the titles from the drop-down below to read more information relating to each definition.

The curriculum is such 'permanent' subjects as grammar, reading, logic, rhetoric, mathematics and the greatest books of the Western world that best embody essential knowledge.

The curriculum is those subjects that are most useful for living in contemporary society.

The curriculum is all planned learning for which the school is responsible.

The curriculum is all the experiences learners have under the guidance of the school.

The curriculum is the totality of learning experiences provided to students so that they can attain general skills and knowledge at a variety of learning sites.

The curriculum is what the student constructs from working with a computer and its various networks, such as the internet.

The curriculum is the questioning of authority and the search for complex views on human situations.

The curriculum is anything and everything that affects the intended learning.