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What does “Curriculum” mean in education?

Introduction to Curriculum

The process of every concept and project requires a proper framework and planning. It is applicable to education as well. It is important to plan the different steps to understand the goals that we need to achieve. A similar set of constraints when applying to the field of education gives birth to what is known as a ‘curriculum’. It is one of the important aspects of the educational system. It is usually understood to mean a group of subjects prescribed for study in a particular course.

But it is not confined to this narrow concept. The word curriculum should be considered as a broad base term used to denote the overall course content of education that is the totality of experiences, a pupil is exposed to within the limits of the school, college and outside.

The word curriculum originated in ancient Rome and meant the chariot racecourse. It is derived from the Latin word “currer” which literally means runway or path laid to achieve the goal.

It is described by not only the theoretical subjects traditionally taught in the school but it also includes the totality of all the experiences that a pupil receives through the manifold exercises that run in the school, in the classroom, library, workshop, playground or in the numerous informal communications among teachers and pupils.

After knowing the meaning and definitions, let us discuss the objectives and further types of the curriculum.

Aims and objectives

The primary aim of a curriculum in the education process is to educate those subjects of study which will enable learners to bridge the gap between school life and life outside the school.

It helps in achieving the aims of education. Without a suitable curriculum aims of education can not be achieved. Since education is considered as an investment, the society expects some returns from it. It lays the foundation for education at all grade levels. Teachers, students, administrators and community stakeholders with a measurable plan and structure contribute to an effective curriculum for delivering quality education. Teachers play a key role in developing, implementing, accessing and modifying it.

Teachers are informed by the school curriculum about the skills that must be taught at each grade level to ultimately prepare students for post-secondary education or a job. New subjects and the additions or omissions of the content are necessary in it. The new media, materials, and methods impact its development. The social and moral values of society also affect curriculum development. Some of its main objectives are the following:

  1. Synthesis of subjects and life:– It outlines for students a sequence of courses and tasks that must be successfully completed to master a subject and to earn a diploma or a degree. The curriculum ensures that each school is teaching students relevant materials that help them to cope up with every type of situation and also helps in monitoring the progress of students from all types of backgrounds.
  2. Complete development:– The aim of education is to achieve the physical, mental, social, religious and spiritual developments of the students. The curriculum helps in such a development of the students. The main goal of the elementary curriculum is to produce well-rounded students capable of performing to expectations in the middle grades.
  3. Development of democratic values:– In all countries curriculum should be developed in such a manner that it should aim to develop values of equality and liberty, so that learners may develop into citizens of a democratic society. These values should be developed not just to have a national outlook but also introducing the spirit of internationalism.
  4. Satisfaction of the learners needs:– Every student has various interests, skills, aptitudes, abilities, and attitudes. A curriculum is designed in such a way as to fulfill all these multifarious needs and requirements. It should provide the learner’s opportunities for development through strategies such as cooperative learning, group learning and project works. These strategies encourage students to explore and share new ideas to solve problems.
  5. Acquisition and strengthening of knowledge:– The term education is taken to mean the acquisition of relevant knowledge. Hence it may be considered as the most fundamental objective to be realized by the curriculum. By providing and integrating knowledge in the various fields, an effective curriculum creates an environment suitable for comprehensive development.

Different types of Curriculum

The concept and nature of the curriculum vary corresponding to the nature of various education systems. The modern concept is much different from the traditional one. As the new system of education developed in new philosophical, sociological and psychological principles and outlooks, a new type of curriculum came into existence. Some of the major curricula are:

  • Traditional or subject-centered Curriculum

    This curriculum is organized with the greatest emphasis on facts, principals and skills in the subject concerned. All stress is on the cognitive attainments of learners rather than on their personal or social development. The traditional curriculum is narrowly conceived books and stuffed too much with exam-oriented techniques.

  • Activity-Centered

    This curriculum is a modern approach to curriculum development. It is a reaction against the traditional curriculum which is subject-centered or teacher dominated. The subject matter is translated in terms of activities. The students gain knowledge as an outgrowth and product of those activities. Activity is used as a medium to gain knowledge, attitudes as well as skills.

  • Child-Centered

    This type of curriculum is learner-oriented. The subjects are chosen and taught keeping in view the social, emotional and intellectual needs of children as well as their capabilities and developmental status. The teachers provide the necessary support and facilitate the learning of children following their natural curiosity, interest, and passion. Education according to a child-centered curriculum requires the active involvement of the child in the educative process.

  • Experience-Centred

    This type of curriculum gives importance to the experience that the learner gets while participating in the process of learning. In experience centered curriculum, the experience of the individual is the starting point of the learning. The subject and the interest of the learner do not matter in this type.

  • Undifferentiated

    This curriculum aims to a certain amount of common body of knowledge and experience and provides a study of various subjects. This type has to be followed in the primary and secondary levels of education. Development of complete personality is possible only through integrated experiences and the only means of bringing about this integration is the unification of the subjects.

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