A working definition can be constructed around several common concepts.
First, the concept of the curriculum as a plan for learning is well developed, based on a comprehensive analysis of the literature on the subject.
Further field research among faculty led back to the course as the fundamental component of such a plan, not the curriculum.
Second, the curriculum can be seen as an instructional system, another well-developed approach.
A product of the last 20 years, it has been fully articulated at Alverno College.
Stated “competence” is also characteristic of programs that lead to external certification or licensing, such as nursing, business, and engineering.
Perhaps the simplest framework for looking at the curriculum is provided by four penetrating questions about purpose, content, organization, and evaluation.
Historical accounts show us that studies on the continent and in England were little more than loose congeries of subjects grouped around faculty members. The period of study was of indeterminate length, with the professor and examiners the arbitrators. The earliest recorded reference, at the University of Glasgow in 1643, identifies a “curriculum quinque annorum.” The term kept its meaning, and the Glasgow calendar of 1829 refers to “the curriculum of students who mean to take degrees in Surgery to be three years.”Scottish usage did not spread widely or rapidly.
It could be used to sustain or validate any set of ideas, but was in fact associated with the Moderate Enlightenment and Moderate Calvinism. Second, systematic description, that is, an orderly, technical terminology that enhances insights on practice and links ideas to application, has not developed. One basic view is that curriculum is “what is taught.”It is important at the outset to distinguish clearly between two meanings of the term “curriculum.” The word [can] connote either formal structural arrangements or the substance of what is being taught.
It was never anti-scientific nor obscuranist, never cynical, and it opened no doors to intellectual or moral chaos. (To be sure, the relations between form and substance, here as always, are complex.) The distinction between structure and concept is important in light of the preemptive administrative interest and faculty neglect of the idea. Arguments of principle, centering on what to do instead of lining up courses end to end until graduation, might be helpful.”The curricular disarray constitutes a major artifact that permits several inferences.
There are always unintended, unanticipated, and unwilled consequences as theories are put into social action.
Many a curriculum committee has foundered because at the first meeting—and every one thereafter—someone insisted that the philosophy be fully articulated before any action is undertaken.