kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

'Caught’ rather than ‘taught'


 The writer looks at the term 'curriculum' from different angles

EDUCATIONALISTS make a distinction between “curriculum” and terms such as “course”, “programme” and “syllabus”.

“Curriculum” refers to why (reasons), how (mechanisms), when (relevance), where (situations/circumstances) and with what (associations) while “syllabus” refers only to what is to be taught. Syllabus is essentially a list of contents, for example facts, skills and attitudes. We can look at curriculum from different angles: Conceptual view of curriculum In his book The Curriculum (1918), John Franklin Bobbitt described curriculum as an idea that has its roots in the Latin word for “racecour se”.

He explains the curriculum as the course of deeds and experiences through which children become successful adults of society.

He adds that the curriculum encompasses the entire scope of formative deeds and experiences occurring in and out of schools; experiences that are unplanned and undirected; and those intentionally directed for the purposeful formation of adult members of society.

In recent times, Ronald M.Harden (2001), a renowned medical educationalist, defined curriculum as “a sophisticated blend of educational strategies, course content, learning outcomes, educational experiences, assessment, the educational environment and the individual students’ learning style, personal timetable and the programme of work”.

J. M. Genn (1995) summarised curriculum as everything that happens in relation to the educational programme.

Operational view of curriculum Curriculum is the coherent, purposeful, integrated design and delivery of managed learning to enable students to become competent and capable practitioners in whichever field they are in.

“To be effective, the curriculum should be broad, balanced, flexible and well-resourced.

“It should be able to maintain continuity between key stages or phases of learning and should be able to offer learners a sense of progression in their own lear ning” stated Boyle and Chr istie from School of Education, University of Manchester (1998).

Developmental view of the cur riculum The following are different types of curriculum: Formal curriculum refers to everything that cur r iculum developers intend to include in it.

It relates to knowledge, skills and attitudes, which students are expected to learn. It is in the form of a written document or a book.

Informal curriculum includes extra-curricular activities, for example debates, sports, involvement in student bodies or editing student magazines.

Hidden curriculum is what the institution has not set out to teach for mally.

This is a curriculum which is “caught” rather than “taught”. It is closely related to the learning climate in the institution, for example the environment-friendly policies in the college, the way teachers treat their students and discipline imposed.

Null curriculum is what a school does not intend to teach its students.

It defines the boundaries of a curriculum, such as an undergraduate medical curriculum is not set out to teach students to maintain the equipment in a medical laboratory or to change bed sheets for a patient.

Implementation view of the cur riculum Discipline experts suggest recommended curriculum.

A written curriculum is what the institution has produced based on the recommendations of discipline experts.

Taught curriculum is the one which is delivered by teacher s and the way it is delivered in the classroom.

Learned curriculum is what the students gained in these sessions.

In an institution where the curriculum is carefully developed, meticulously implemented and vigilantly monitored, there will be little gap between the recommended and learned curricula.

Relevance view of the cur riculum Core curriculum is deemed central and usually made mandatory for all students; that which should be mastered by them. It is an essential component of each subject.

A student who does not satisfy the core requirements may not be allowed to move to next level of the course.

Special study modules are also called electives. These areas of study are chosen by students with the help of teachers.

The modules provide opportunity to study the chosen areas in depth. It is preferred that the topics or areas of study not only enhance knowledge and skills but also help in the overall personal and professional development of the student.

Hidden curriculum needs special attention of institution managers.

In his article, Super-complexity and the Curriculum, published in Studies in Higher Education ( Vol.25), Ronald Barnett wrote: “Curricula in higher education are to a large degree ‘hidden cur r icula’… They have an elusive quality about them. Their actual dimensions and elements are tacit. They take on certain patterns and relationships but those patterns and relationships will be hidden from all concerned, except as they are experienced by the students.” Students’ observations of behaviours are a far greater influence than prescription for behaviours offered in the classrooms.

The norms, values and social expectations indirectly conveyed to students by the styles of teaching, unarticulated assumptions in teaching materials and the organisational characteristics of educational institutions influence students’ behaviours significantly.

Hidden curriculum is more related to the actions of the staff and students, and policies of the institutions.

Does the institution provide equal opportunities to all students? Is there clear policy and actions to discourage racial discr iminations? Do classes and meetings start at scheduled times? Do all participants get equal opportunity to voice their opinions? Are there separate bins available for recyclable materials? Are there efforts not to waste water and energy? Do the canteens provide only healthy foods? Are students encouraged to take part in sport and physical activities? These are few examples of the hidden curriculum. 

The writer is Professor of Paediatrics and curriculum coordinator of the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA. Email him at

By Alam Sher Malik 2011/09/17

Source: The NST Home Lerning Curve 2011/09/17
Tags: curriculum, education

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