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Curriculum (plural curricula)

In the simplest terms, ‘curriculum’ is a description of what, why, how and how well students should learn in a systematic and intentional way. The curriculum is not an end in itself but rather a means to fostering quality learning. (Source: UNESCO IBE 2011). The term curriculum has many definitions, ranging from a planned ‘course of study’ (derived from the Latin) to an all-embracing view that includes all the learning experiences for which the school is responsible (e.g. “the curriculum is the totality of experiences which are planned for children and young people through their education, wherever they are being educated”, Scottish Government 2009). Some examples of definitions: “The curriculum is a plan incorporating a structured series of intended learning outcomes and associated learning experiences, generally organized as a related combination or series of courses.” (Australian Thesaurus of Education Descriptors). The curriculum is the “inventory of activities implemented to design, organize and plan an education or training action, including definition of learning objectives, content, methods (including assessment) and material, as well as arrangements for training teachers and trainers.” (CEDEFOP 2011). “A curriculum is a plan for learning.” (Taba 1962). “The curriculum defines the educational foundations and contents, their sequencing in relation to the amount of time available for the learning experiences, the characteristics of the teaching institutions, the characteristics of the learning experiences, in particular from the point of view of methods to be used, the resources for learning and teaching (e.g. textbooks and new technologies), evaluation and teachers’ profiles.” (Braslavsky 2003). The curriculum can also be viewed as a political and social agreement that reflects a society’s common vision while taking into account local, national and global needs and expectations. Thus contemporary curriculum development and reform processes increasingly involve public discussion and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Curriculum design has evolved into a topic of considerable debate – with frequently conflicting perspectives – engaging policymakers, experts, practitioners and society at large.

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