Ever since the term curriculum was added to educators' vocabularies, it has seemed to convey many things to many people. To some, curriculum has denoted a specific course, while to others it has meant the entire educational environment. Whereas perceptions of the term may vary, it must be recognized that curriculum encompasses more than a simple definition. Curriculum is a key element in the educational process; its scope is extremely broad, and it touches virtually everyone who is involved with teaching and learning.
Origin of Curriculum
The idea of curriculum is hardly new - but the way we understand and theorize it has altered over the years - and there remains considerable dispute as to meaning. The word curriculum originated in ancient Rome as a chariot race course. Julius Caesar talked about which team of horses, driver, chariot would be able to run the curriculum fastest. It was, literally, a course. In Latin curriculum was a racing chariot; currere was to run. "Currere is derived from the Latin infinitive verb that means 'to run the racecourse.
Historical Definitions of Curriculum
Historical definitions typically envision curriculum as a planned sequence of learning or instructional experiences that a student/learner is subjected to under the auspices of the school. To be sure these definitions limited the application of curricular experiences to the school setting. Emergent definitions have looked at curriculum more broadly. According to Connelly and Clandinin curriculum "can be viewed as a person's life experience." This definition sees merit due to the change in technology. Connelly and Clandinins’ definition came several decades after Smith, Good, Taba, Foshay and Tanner. Technology has influenced the medium in which curriculum is delivered. There is no "traditional way" anymore. "One's life course of action" will determine what will be studied and how. Influences and Developments
Curriculum has had strong historical roots. From before Tyler crafted the major questions that we ask about curriculum (Tyler,1949), theorists have been concerned about the ways in which teachers and schools plan learning experiences for all learners. These pre-occupations have influenced the development of Curriculum theory from the outset. Invariably, curriculum has long been influenced by factors outside of the school. Such influences include history, society, psychology and politics.
Social and Political Influences and Curriculum Evolution
Social and political developments have continuously contributed to ideas about the components and definitions of curriculum. At the turn of the century Franklin Bobbit constructed his definition of curriculum on the basis of objectives based on adult work life (Bobbit,1918). Social emphasis was on the advancement of science and industry this approach also influenced the curriculum theories of other thinkers of the time. John Dewey's definition of curriculum which though a more progressive in that it focused on learning by doing rather than rote learning and dogmatic instruction also maintained some influence from this area of science and industry. In 1891 William Torrey Harris introduced the idea of organized learning and learning with text books. Has practical application of a systematization of the curriculum laid the groundwork for an industrialized model of curriculum implementation. Other societal influences to the curriculum include legal decisions and government policy. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case in the history of American education. The case was in response to social events which entrenched racialized schooling and curriculum in the United States. From the 1892 Plessy v. Ferguson case, the precedent of "separate but equal" was set, resulting in separate schools for white and black children. The Brown decision set the stage for more aggressive centralized decision- making at the Federal level with...