What Is Curriculum Definition & Meaning

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 06:31 -- Umar Farooq

Define Curriculum

The word curriculum is taken from a Latin word "chariot" which means a race course. According to concise Oxford Dictionary, it is defined as a course of study. Tanner and Tanner (1980); P.3G have traced the history of curriculum definitions. According to them, the curriculum has been defined variously as:

  1. The cumulative tradition of organized knowledge.
  2. Modes of thought.
  3. Race experience.
  4. Guided content and process.
  5. A planned learning environment.
  6. An instructional plan.
  7. Cognitive / affective content and process. Instructional ends or outcomes.
  8. Technological system of production

Lewis and Miel define the curriculum variously as:

  1. Course of study.
  2. Intended learning outcomes.
  3. Intended opportunities for engagement. Learning opportunities provided.
  4. Learner's actual engagements and learner's actual experiences.

Although it is difficult to reach a consensus on any single definition of-the term "curriculum" but by studying the definitions which have been put forward, we may become more aware of the various perspectives from which a curriculum can be viewed.

Literally "curriculum" is a course of study at a school or a university. The Oxford Dictionary defines the term thus, "Having a form, structure or arrangement, which follows or is reducible to, some rule or principle characterized by harmony or proper correspondence between the various parts of elements: marked by steadiness or uniformity of action, procedure or occurrence; conformably to some accepted or adopted rule or standard".

Basically, the curriculum is what happens to children in school as a result of what teachers do. It includes all the experiences, which the school accepts to provide to children. According to this view a curriculum is the program used by the school as a means of accomplishing its purposes.

Many writers use the term "curriculum. loosely as being synonymous with "syllabus course of study "subjects" or even "timetable". In some educational institutions, the word, by tradition is associated with narrowly conceived short courses which deal mainly with content. The selection of definitions presented below should illustrate that, as used by curriculum theorists. The concept is much more complex one. The, examples quoted also show the variety of definitions which have .been offered. Consider their differences and similarities; and try to decide which comes closest to your own viewpoint about the meaning and nature of the curriculum.

A close look at just these definitions will reveal that the focus of our study of the curriculum would be different in each case. Some of them indicate the planning of learning as well as what actually takes place both inside and outside the school. While some others would focus our attention on the things that teachers and you.

According to M. Johnson, Curriculum is a structured series of intended learning outcomes. Curriculum prescribes (or at least anticipates) the results of instruction. It does not prescribe the means i.e. the activities, materials or even the instructional content, to be used in achieving the results. The central thesis of the present paper is that curriculum has reference to what it is intended that you learn, not what it is intended that they do.