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Formal and informal curricula

The previous section referred to the components of the formal curriculum – those activities for which an institute schedules specific periods of teaching time. We should also acknowledge the informal, voluntary activities that take place before and after normal hours.

These activities – breakfast clubs, sports clubs, educational visits, societies, etc. – are often called 'extra-curricular', which suggests that they are separate from the curriculum itself. However, if we were concerned with curriculum planning, it would be wise to include this wide range of activities that teachers plan and execute with deliberate reason. Indeed, there are some who regard such activities as having as much educational validity as any of the formal arrangements of the institution.

Perhaps, then, the definition of a curriculum should refer to both the formal and informal learning that takes place inside or outside the official timetable.

You may wish to think about the following: what educational validity do you place on the informal curriculum? Can you offer any examples? These may be useful to consider as we work through this module.