The idea of curriculum has been around for generations. However, the way in which we understand and theorise about the curriculum has changed vastly over the years. The word ‘curriculum’ comes from a Greek word which means ‘course’. Stenhouse (1975) states that “Curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice”. There are three ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice: 1. as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product 2. Curriculum as process
3. Curriculum as praxis
The dominant model of describing and managing education today is based on the product model. Education is seen as a technical exercise. Objectives are set, a plan drawn up and then applied and the end product measured. It has influenced education in the UK since the 1970s. An example of this would be such as when a person undertakes a qualification such as a (General Secondary Certificate of Education (G.S.C.E). They study a subject for a number of years on a specific programme and the outcome is measured at the end via an exam and the results are graded. The product model relies heavily on setting of behavioural objectives. The curriculum in based on this approach is essentially, a set of documents for implementation. In the process model the curriculum, as such is not a physical thing. It focuses on the interaction of teachers, students and knowledge, so the curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom therefore is a process of communication. In this model there are a number of interactive elements to consider. The teacher should have a clear picture of what their role is within the classroom and what is expected of them as a teacher. They should be following guidelines set for them by external bodies and should be equipped with the knowledge to deliver the course. Equipped with these tools, they should instigate conversation which stimulates action which, in turn encourages personal and educational growth. The teacher also grows both personally and in their teaching skills as they will continually be evaluating their processes and gaining knowledge from the outcomes. The process model differs to the product model in that the product model appeals to the workshop for a model while the process model looks to the world of experimentation. “The idea is that of an educational science in which each classroom is a laboratory, each teacher a member of a scientific community….The crucial point is that the proposal is not to regarded as an unqualified recommendation but rather as a provisional specification claiming no more than to be worth putting to the test of practice, Such proposals claim to be intelligent rather that correct”. (Stenhouse 1975: page 142) Therefore the theory in this approach the focus is on the practice of teaching. “‘It is a way of translating any educational idea into a hypothesis testable in practice. It invites critical testing rather than acceptance”. (Stenhouse 1975: page 142) The praxis model in many ways is a hybrid of the process model but much more developed. The praxis model is the model totally embraces the Humanist theory. The teacher approaches the learning with a personal, but shared idea of the good and a commitment to human emancipation. They possess the ability to think critically on the job. They have a clear understanding of their role and what is expected of them and a proposal for action which sets out essential principles and features of what is expected of the students learning experience. Guided by these principles, discussion is encouraged between and with students, out of which comes informed and committed...