Curricula, as an etymological, epistemological, and phenomenological concept has attracted the attention of educators for decades (Posner, 2004; Wiles & Bondi, 2007). Historically, defining the term “curriculum” led to discussions on how to develop universal education (Marsh & Willis, 2003; Marshall, Sears, & Schubert, 2000). Etymologically, the word curriculum originated from the Latin currere, meaning running course (Posner, 2004; Wiles & Bondi, 2007). James (2009) explained the epistemology of curricula by examining the two complex relations. The first relation was based on the educational aims of formal knowledge defined in learning objectives and embedded in curriculum. The second relation connected the human factor such as teacher and student to the curricula. Defining the curricula phenomenologically as a set of courses has led to consensus that curricula were “a series of courses the student must get through” (Posner, 2004, p. 11). Curricula were considered a matrix of courses during the course of student’s education.
Authors have been trying to define the concept “curriculum” for years; however, a single definition of curricula does not exist (Marsh & Willis, 2003; Marshall, et al., 2000; Olivia, 2005; Posner, 2004; Wiles & Bondi, 2007). According to Posner (2004), one single definition of curricula should not exist because “there is no panacea in education” but a “myriad curriculum alternatives” (p. 4). Posner suggested defining curricula by examining two levels of curriculum theoretical principals. The first level included the following seven concepts: a) scope and sequence, or series of intended learning or objectives; b) syllabus or course plan of study; c) content outline, or list of organized instructions (curriculum plan); d) standards, or ground work for the course with expected achievements and outcomes; e) textbooks, or day-to-day guide; f) course of study, or series of steps the student should complete (curricula); and g) all planned experiences.
The second level attempted to explain the nature and the meaning of a curriculum by integrating the following five curriculum concepts: a) formal curriculum, official or written; b) operational curriculum, active in practice; c) hidden curriculum, not acknowledged; d) null curriculum, not taught; and e) extra curriculum or teaching experiences occurring outside the school system (Posner, 2004). Each concept led to different interpretation and thereafter application of curriculum concepts (Posner, 2004). A competent educator should be cognizant of the coexisting concepts when designing comprehensive curricula for any type of organizations.
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(Author: Milena P. Staykova