20 Definitions of Curriculum by Authors and Explanation of Each Concept

Curriculum is a term that is often used in the field of education. However, defining a curriculum is not a straightforward task. Various scholars and authors have provided different definitions of curriculum, and these definitions reflect their perspectives, experiences, and theoretical frameworks. This article explores 20 definitions of curriculum by authors, providing an overview and explanation of each definition.


The various definitions of curriculum discussed in this article highlight the complexity and diversity of the concept


1. Curriculum as a Plan (Hilda Taba)

Taba viewed the curriculum as a planned learning experience for students. Curriculum planning involves setting goals, objectives, content, and assessment methods that are aligned with students’ needs, interests, and abilities. Taba’s approach emphasizes the importance of the teacher’s role in designing and implementing the curriculum.

2. Curriculum as a Course of Study (John Dewey)

Dewey viewed the curriculum as a dynamic and evolving course of study that reflects the changing needs and interests of society. According to Dewey, the curriculum should be based on the principle of experiential learning, where students learn by doing and reflecting on their experiences.

3. Curriculum as a Program (Ralph Tyler)

Tyler’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the importance of defining clear educational objectives and selecting appropriate teaching strategies and assessment methods. The curriculum is viewed as a structured program that provides students with a coherent and sequenced set of learning experiences.

4. Curriculum as Experience (William Heard Kilpatrick)

Kilpatrick’s definition of curriculum highlights the importance of experiential learning and the role of the teacher as a facilitator of learning experiences. The curriculum is viewed as a set of meaningful experiences that are designed to promote students’ growth and development.

5. Curriculum as a Process (Joseph Schwab)

Schwab’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the importance of the process of curriculum development and implementation. According to Schwab, the curriculum is a continuous process of reflection, decision-making, and action that involves multiple stakeholders, including teachers, students, parents, and policymakers.

6. Curriculum as Praxis (Paulo Freire)

Freire viewed the curriculum as a praxis, which refers to the integration of theory and practice. The curriculum is viewed as a transformative process that promotes critical thinking, reflection, and social action. According to Freire, the curriculum should be designed to empower students and promote social justice.

7. Curriculum as Cultural Reproduction (Michael Apple)

Apple’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of the curriculum in reproducing social and cultural norms and values. The curriculum is viewed as a social construction that reflects the dominant culture and ideology of society, and reinforces the power structures and inequalities that exist.

8. Curriculum as Social Reproduction (Jean Anyon)

Anyone's definition of curriculum also highlights the role of education in reproducing social and economic inequalities. The curriculum is viewed as a tool for social reproduction, where students from different socio-economic backgrounds are prepared for different roles in society, based on their class position.

9. Curriculum as a Product (David P. Ausubel)

Ausubel’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the importance of organized and structured learning experiences that focus on students’ cognitive development. The curriculum is viewed as a product that is designed to promote meaningful learning and retention of knowledge.

10. Curriculum as a Dynamic System (Philip Jackson)

Jackson’s definition of curriculum views the curriculum as a dynamic system that is influenced by various factors, including the learners, the teachers, the environment, and the society. The curriculum is viewed as a constantly evolving process that reflects the changing needs and interests of learners.

11. Curriculum as a Negotiated Order (Erving Goffman)

Goffman’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of negotiation and interaction in the curriculum development and implementation process. The curriculum is viewed as a negotiated order, where various stakeholders negotiate and agree on the goals, content, and methods of teaching and learning.

12. Curriculum as a Site of Struggle (Peter McLaren)

McLaren’s definition of curriculum highlights the role of education in promoting social justice and challenging the existing power structures and inequalities. The curriculum is viewed as a site of struggle, where teachers and students engage in critical reflection and action to promote social change.

13. Curriculum as a Way of Life (Maxine Greene)

Greene’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the importance of education as a way of life, where learning is a lifelong process that involves exploration, imagination, and creativity. The curriculum is viewed as a way of living, where students and teachers engage in meaningful and transformative experiences.

14. Curriculum as Emancipation (Henry Giroux)

Giroux’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of education in promoting emancipation, where students and teachers work together to challenge the existing power structures and promote social justice. The curriculum is viewed as a tool for liberation, where students are encouraged to question, analyze and transform the world around them.

15. Curriculum as Dialogic Encounter (Mikhail Bakhtin)

Bakhtin’s definition of curriculum views learning as a dialogic encounter, where students and teachers engage in meaningful and authentic conversations that promote critical thinking and reflection. The curriculum is viewed as a space for dialogue and interaction, where multiple perspectives and voices are valued and respected.

16. Curriculum as Technological Design (Neil Postman)

Postman’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of technology in the design and implementation of the curriculum. The curriculum is viewed as a technological system, where various media and technologies are used to promote learning and engagement.

17. Curriculum as Critical Inquiry (Elliott Eisner)

Eisner’s definition of curriculum views learning as a critical inquiry process, where students and teachers engage in questioning, reflection, and analysis. The curriculum is viewed as a tool for critical thinking and problem-solving, where students are encouraged to question and challenge existing knowledge and assumptions.

18. Curriculum as Reflective Practice (Donald Schön)

Schön’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of reflection in the learning process. The curriculum is viewed as a reflective practice, where students and teachers engage in critical reflection and analysis of their experiences and practices.

19. Curriculum as Socially Engaged Practice (Maggie MacLure)

MacLure’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the importance of social engagement and interaction in the learning process. The curriculum is viewed as a socially engaged practice, where students and teachers engage with others and the world around them to promote social change and transformation.

20. Curriculum as Cultural Politics (Michael Apple)

Apple’s definition of curriculum emphasizes the role of education in promoting and reinforcing cultural politics, where education is viewed as a contested terrain that reflects and reinforces the dominant cultural norms and values. The curriculum is viewed as a cultural politics, where students and teachers negotiate and challenge the dominant cultural values and norms to promote social justice and equity.

Conclusion

The various definitions of curriculum discussed in this article highlight the complexity and diversity of the concept. The definitions are influenced by various factors, including the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which they were developed. Despite the differences, the definitions share some common themes, including the importance of learner-centeredness, critical thinking, and social engagement.

It is important to note that the definitions discussed in this article are not exhaustive, and there are many other definitions and interpretations of curriculum that exist. Nonetheless, the definitions provide a framework for understanding the concept of curriculum and its various dimensions and implications.

Bibliography

  1. Anyon, J. (1980). Social class and the hidden curriculum of work. Journal of Education, 162(1), 67-92.

  2. Apple, M. W. (1993). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age. New York, NY: Routledge.

  3. Ausubel, D. P. (1968). Educational psychology: A cognitive view. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

  4. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

  5. Eisner, E. W. (1994). The educational imagination: On the design and evaluation of school programs. New York, NY: Macmillan.

  6. Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: Toward a critical pedagogy of learning. Granby, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

  7. Greene, M. (1978). Landscapes of learning. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

  8. Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

  9. Jackson, P. W. (1968). Life in classrooms. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  10. MacLure, M. (2013). The curriculum: Tensions between the social, the cultural and the political. In M. Peters, A. Britton, & H. Blee (Eds.), Global knowledge cultures (pp. 221-238). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

  11. McLaren, P. (1994). Critical pedagogy and predatory culture: Oppositional politics in a postmodern era. New York, NY: Routledge.

  12. Postman, N. (1995). The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York, NY: Vintage.

  13. Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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