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The term curriculum

The term curriculum is derived from a Latin word, which means to run a course. This is literally translated to mean a course of subject of study in education. This term is also be used to refer to the total sum of all the experiences a student undergoes. The learning is planned by the school and can be done in groups or individually either within the school or outside the school environment.

Generally, this term is defined as the sum total of the experiences that an individual goes through which helps that particular individual to acquire the desired skills, knowledge, skills and attitudes that will in turn enables her or him to fit in the society. The school curriculum has three main dimensions. That is, the formal dimension, the informal dimension and the non-formal dimension. The formal dimension refers to the academic learning experiences that are usually programmed and undertaken by the learner under a controlled school environment.

For example, the lessons that the learners attend and the evaluation process that undergo makes part of the formal dimension of the curriculum. Non-formal dimension on the other hand refers to the planned non-academic learning experiences, which may be undertaken within the school environment or outside the school environment. These are arranged in a less rigid manner and take into consideration the learner’s interest, ability and age. Examples of this are the clubs, games, sports, choir, debates, drama, meetings, guidance and counseling among others.

The informal dimension focuses on the unplanned learning experiences at school. These experiences influence the learners’ behavior. Learning takes place through imitation and identification with the peers, the teacher and any other person within the school environment. Therefore, it important to note that those learners should be aware of who should be their role models. The teacher should ensure that these learners relate with peers who will influence them positively. The school curriculum has various elements.

These elements include the curriculum objectives that are the statements of the curriculum content or intentions drawn from political statements or decisions. The curriculum planners who critically analyze them and state them, in such a manner that they guide them in choosing them, relevant learning experiences and evaluation methods, then adopt these decisions. The learners, the society and the subject matter are the main sources of the curriculum objectives. Therefore, if these sources are not selected keenly, they will hinder the curriculum objectives, which in return will affect the entire operations of the schools.

Therefore, there is need to take into consideration the needs of all learners and the society in general before a curriculum is developed. Learning experiences which include the subject matter and the activities that the learner engages in for the realization of the curriculum objectives also make part of the elements of the curriculum. The content includes the knowledge, skills and attitudes, which are valued by the society in a given historical period. Therefore, if these contents are not well selected, then the school curriculum will be then affected in a significant manner.

For instant, if the learning experiences do not give the learners the opportunity to practice what they have learnt, then it is not an appropriate element for the curriculum (Cathy Duffy, 2005). The curriculum documents, which include the syllabus, schemes of work, lesson plan, lesson notes, textbooks, timetable, and teachers’ attendance list among others, are essential elements in any school set up. Therefore, if these documents are not well prepared, then the learning system will not run well.

For instant, incases where there is lack of a well-drawn timetable, the learners will in most cases miss to attend lessons, which in return will hinder the school performance. There are two patterns of curriculum design. That is, the subject centered curriculum design and the learner centered curriculum design. The subject centered curriculum design refers to the organization of the curriculum design in terms of different subjects. The learner centered curriculum design puts emphasis on the attention of the learner (Allan C. Ornstein, Francis P. Hunkins, 2003).

Therefore, depending on the design that is selected, the school operations will be affected in one way or another. For instant, if the subject centered design is selected, then the teacher will definitely have problems in working with genuine individual problems of concern since the subjects are theoretical and knowledge is already selected for the learners. In situations where the learner centered approach is applied, the teacher may run into problems and waste a lot of time while trying to satisfy the needs of the individual learners, which may not be important to the entire society at the expense of the fast learners.

In other circumstances, during the process of curriculum formulation, the curriculum can be monopolized by a few influential individuals in terms of what should be taught in schools, how it should be taught at all curriculum levels, this elite class of people may not take into consideration the needs of the learners from the poor families and hence may fail to accommodate their needs. This in return will affect the entire school performance, as a school is a community that is made of both the poor and the rich.

In any curriculum, there are agencies of curriculum evaluation. The teacher is the primary agency of a curriculum evaluation since he is in close contact with the learners on a daily basis. This evaluation may be motivating or demotivating. An evaluation is motivating when the teacher if fair to all students without any favor to some individuals. It is then the role of the teacher to ensure that these learners are aware of their mistakes and weaknesses and help them to overcome them.

The teacher should also ensure that he recognizes the strengths of these students and work with them to improve on them (Carol A. Tomlison, Cindy A. Strickland, Inc NetLibrary, ebrary, Inc, 2005). However, if this evaluation is not well done, that is, it is not genuine, and then the learners will loose their trust in the evaluation agencies. This in return will affect their efforts to improve or to succeed in life, thus the school performance will be affected.


Allan C. Ornstein, Francis P. Hunkins (2003). Curriculum: Foundatios, Principles, and Issues. Allyn and Bacon, ISBN 0205405649. Cathy Duffy (2005). 100 Topics for Home school Curriculum: Choosing The Right Curriculum. B&H Publishing Group, ISBN 0805431381. Carol A. Tomlison, Cindy A. Strickland, Inc NetLibrary, ebrary, Inc (2005). Differentiation in Practice: a Resource Duide for Differentiating. ASCD, ISBN 1416699507.

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