Definitions of curriculum


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Definitions of curriculum

  1. 1. Definitions of CurriculumDefinition 1: Curriculum is such “permanent” subjects as grammar, reading, logic, rhetoric, mathematics,and the greatest books of the Western world that best embody essential knowledgeDefinition 2: Curriculum is those subjects that are most useful for living in contemporary society.Definition 3: Curriculum is all planned learnings for which the school is responsibleDefinition 4: Curriculum is all the experiences learners have under the guidance of the school.Definition 5: Curriculum is the totality of learning experiences provided to students so that they canattain general skills and knowledge at a variety of learning sites.Definition 6: Curriculum is what the student constructs from working with the computer and its variousnetworks, such as the Internet.Definition 7: Curriculum is the questioning of authority and the searching for complex views of humansituations.Definition 8: Curriculum is all the experiences that learners have in the course of living.(From Marsh, C. J. & Willis, G. (2003). Curriculum: Alternative approaches, ongoing issues. (3rd ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.)Types of Curriculum—from Leslie Wilson’s website and Larry Cuban(Courtesy of Dr. Judith Irvin, Florida State University)Overt, explicit or written curriculum is simply that which is written as part of formal instruction of theschooling experience. It may refer to a curriculum document, texts, and supportive materials that areovertly chosen to support the intentional instructional agenda of a school.
  2. 2. Cuban (1992) calls it an intended curriculum (recommended, adopted, official). It serves as adocumented map of theories, beliefs, and intentions about schooling, teaching, learning, andknowledge—evidence in the development of teacher proof curriculum.Curriculum-in-use The formal curriculum (written or overt) comprises those things in textbooks, andcontent and concepts in the district curriculum guides. However, those "formal" elements are frequentlynot taught. The curriculum-in-use is the actual curriculum that is delivered and presented by eachteacher.Cuban (1992) calls it the taught curriculum (implicit, delivered, operational) where teacher beliefs beginaltering the curriculum/teaching style. Relates to Hidden curriculum (see below).Received curriculum Those things that students actually take out of classroom; those concepts andcontent that are truly learned and remembered.Cuban (1992) calls it the learned curriculum. "The gap between what is taught and what is learned—both intended and unintended—is large." Cuban, p. 223, 1992)• Anderson (1984) found that primary grade students were most concerned about finishing their work,not understanding it.• Schoenfeld (1990) found that elementary students often solved math problems in a mechanical wayeven when answers don’t make sense in the real world. Students learn that school math is arbitrary.• Many researchers have given evidence about misconceptions that students and adults have—naïvetheories.Rhetorical curriculum Elements from the rhetorical curriculum are comprised from ideas offered bypolicymakers, school officials, administrators, or politicians. This curriculum may also come from thoseprofessionals involved in concept formation and content changes; or from those educational initiativesresulting from decisions based on national and state reports, public speeches, or from texts critiquingoutdated educational practices. The rhetorical curriculum may also come from the publicized worksoffering updates in pedagogical knowledge.
  3. 3. Societal curriculum Cortes (1981) defines societal curricula as:"...[the] massive, ongoing, informal curriculum of family, peer groups, neighborhoods, churchesorganizations, occupations, mass, media and other socializing forces that "educate" all of us throughoutour lives. " (p. 25)Concomitant curriculum - What is taught, or emphasized at home, or those experiences that are part ofa familys experiences, or related experiences sanctioned by the family. (This type of curriculum may bereceived at church, in the context of religious expression, lessons on values, ethics or morals, moldedbehaviors, or social experiences based on a familys preferences.)Phantom curriculum -The messages prevalent in and through exposure to media.The hidden or covert curriculum -That which is implied by the very structure and nature of schools,much of what revolves around daily or established routines.Longstreet and Shane (1993) offer a commonly accepted definition for this term.. . . the "hidden curriculum," which refers to the kinds of learnings children derive from the very natureand organizational design of the public school, as well as from the behaviors and attitudes of teachersand administrators.... " (p. 46)Examples of the hidden curriculum might include the messages and lessons derived from the mereorganization of schools -- the emphasis on:- sequential room arrangements;- the cellular, timed segments of formal instruction;- an annual schedule that is still arranged to accommodate an agrarian age;- disciplined messages that concentration equates to classrooms where students are sitting up straightand are continually quiet;
  4. 4. - students getting in and standing in line silently;- students quietly raising their hands to be called on; competition for grades, and so on.The hidden curriculum may include both positive or negative messages, depending on the perspective ofthe learner or the observer.David P. Gardner is reported to have said:‘We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all butritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least."The null curriculum - That which we do not teach, thus giving students the message that these elementsare not important in their educational experiences or in our society. Eisner offers some major points ashe concludes his discussion of the null curriculum."The major point I have been trying to make thus far is that schools have consequences not only byvirtue of what they do not teach, but also by virtue of what they neglect to teach. What students cannotconsider, what they dont processes they are unable to use, have consequences for the kinds of livesthey lead. p. 103"Eisner (1985, 1994) first described and defined aspects of this curriculum. He states:"There is something of a paradox involved in writing about a curriculum that does not exist. Yet, if weare concerned with the consequences of school programs and the role of curriculum in shaping thoseconsequences, then it seems to me that we are well advised to consider not only the explicit and implicitcurricula of schools but also what schools do not teach. It is my thesis that what schools do not teachmay be as important as what they do teach. I argue this position because ignorance is not simply aneutral void; it has important effects on the kinds of options one is able to consider, the alternativesthat one can examine, and the perspectives from which one can view a situation or problems. ...p. 97"From Eisners perspective the null curriculum is simply that which is not taught in schools. Somehow,somewhere, some people are empowered to make conscious decisions as to what is to be included andwhat is to be excluded from the overt curriculum. Since it is physically impossible to teach everything inschools, many topics and subject areas must be excluded from the written curriculum. But Eisnersposition on the null curriculum is that when certain subjects or topics are left out of the curriculum,school personnel are sending messages to students that certain content and processes are not
  5. 5. important enough to study. Unfortunately, without some level of awareness that there is also a well-defined implicit agenda in schools, school personnel send this same type of message via the hiddencurriculum also.Resources:Cortes, C.E. (1981) The societal curriculum: Implications for multiethnic educations. In Banks, J.A (ed.)Education in the 80s: Multiethnic education. National Education Association.*Cuban, Larry (1992) Curriculum stability and change. In Jackson, Philip (ed.) Handbook of Research onCurriculum. American Educational Research Association (added by MBeech)Eisner, E.W. (1994) The educational imagination: On design and evaluation of school programs. (3rd. ed)New York: Macmillan.Longstreet, W.S. and Shane, H.G. (1993) Curriculum for a new millennium. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Copyright© Leslie Owen Wilson, 1997 University of Wisconsin at Steven’s Point. Web assistance by LynnKirby