An Understanding of Curriculum

Essay by scasmUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2014

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An Understanding of Curriculum

The term 'curriculum' cannot be defined in a single phrase or with one clear definition. There are many meanings and different terms all offering a definition of curriculum. To clarify, this essay is discussing an educational curriculum which is understood to be "an official document that contains all the necessary information to run an education qualification, program or course" (Schugurensky, 2002, p3).

A simple definition, as such presented, above does not explore the complexity of what a curriculum is, nor does it present the many influencing factors that surround defining what constitutes an educational curriculum. The exact definition of what the curriculum encompasses is also dependent on the stakeholders' perception. Stakeholders are people or organisations who have an interest in the curriculum's formation and deliver (Marsh, 2009), and includes Government departments, Board of Directors, principals, teachers, parents and students.

What can be understood is that a curriculum is not a single document declaring teaching and learning aims or goals.

In fact, many confuse the term with syllabus (i.e. that body of content which must be taught in order to fulfil specific learning objectives). There are many dimensions (or layers) offered as parts that make up a full and whole curriculum, but these are by no means fixed and exact components that complete a curriculum. A curriculum should be such that it offers students a complete and in-depth learning experience and, at the same time, is appropriate, rigorous and enriched (Skinner, 2008).

Organisaiton for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (1998) offers five layers as suggested by Goodlad (1979):

The ideal curriculum - as perceived by its author(s)

The formal curriculum - the official curriculum approved by Ministry of Education (or similar body)

The perceived curriculum - parents and teachers view on what should be...