Curriculum: Meaning, Nature and Scope of Curriculum

A curriculum acts as a blueprint for education, outlining the knowledge, skills, and values students should learn at each stage of their academic journey.

Various educators offer different perspectives on curriculum, leading to a diverse array of concepts surrounding its content and functions. We can examine three such concepts put forth by three distinct thinkers, each making significant contributions to our understanding of curriculum.


The first concept, proposed by Albert Oliver, views curriculum simply as the educational program comprising studies, activities, and guidance.

The second concept, articulated by Philip Phenix, emphasizes a well-considered framework of values that shape the aims and objectives of education.

Lastly, Hilda Taba presents a concept viewing curriculum as integral to the public school system, encompassing functions such as preserving and transmitting cultural heritage, facilitating cultural transformation, and fostering individual development.

Meaning of Curriculum

In simpler terms, the word “curriculum” comes from Latin, meaning a course to be followed to achieve a goal. Arthur J. Lewis and Mid Alice (1972) describe it as a plan for engaging people in learning through interactions with others and various resources, within specific time and space arrangements.

Think of curriculum as the overall plan created by an institution, given to teachers to bring educational goals to life. Cunningham likens it to a tool for teachers to shape their students according to their educational objectives, with students being active participants in their learning.

Curriculum can be seen as the dynamic social environment of learning, encompassing all activities and experiences provided by schools to help learners achieve objectives. While courses of study offer suggestions and guidelines, curriculum ultimately guides the teaching process, determining what needs to be done and how it should be done, making it a vital aspect of education.

Nature of Curriculum

Curriculum as a Plan:

The concept of curriculum as a plan is articulated by various scholars. Oliva (1982) describes it as a structured framework encompassing all the educational encounters a learner undergoes within the school’s guidance. Carter V. Good (1959) views curriculum as a comprehensive blueprint outlining the content or specific materials of instruction necessary for a student’s graduation or certification in a professional or vocational field. Tyler and Hilda Taba (1962) define curriculum as an actionable plan or written document containing strategies aimed at achieving desired educational objectives. Galen Saylor regards curriculum as a systematic arrangement designed to provide learning opportunities for individuals seeking education.

Curriculum as an Experience:

Curriculum as an experience involves the deliberate organization of knowledge and experiences within educational institutions to empower learners in mastering and influencing their understanding. Tanner and Tanner (1980) explain it as the structured reconstruction of knowledge and experiences facilitated by schools or universities to enhance learners’ control over their cognitive development. The Secondary Education Commission (1952-54) extends this definition to encompass all the varied experiences students encounter within the school environment, including formal and informal activities, which contribute to their holistic development. Franklin Bobbitt (1918) conceptualizes curriculum as a series of activities and experiences designed to equip children and youth with the skills and attributes necessary for adulthood. Krug (1957) defines curriculum as the collective instructional methods employed by schools to facilitate student learning and achieve desired educational outcomes.

Curriculum as a Subject Matter

Doll (1978) explained that Curriculum encompasses both the subjects taught in educational institutions and the broader field in which educators operate. It includes both formal and informal content and processes through which learners acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes within the school environment. Curriculum can be understood in terms of specific subjects like Tamil, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science, as well as the organization and absorption of information within these subjects. Traditionally, the curriculum has been centered around the teaching and learning of specific subjects by teachers and students. It encompasses the set of subjects or courses offered, as well as those required or recommended for various purposes, such as college preparatory, science, or premedical curricula.

Curriculum as an Objective

BF. Skinner considers the curriculum to be designed according to behaviorist objectives. Curriculum is the series of experiences that children and young people must have to achieve activity-based objectives.

W.W. Chatters (1923) saw curriculum as a series of objectives that students should achieve through a series of learning experiences, Edgar Bruce stated that curriculum is “a pedagogical device, planned and, based on objectives Used by the school to impress” (Edgar Bruce).

According to Payne, “Curriculum includes all those situations which schools can select and consciously organize for the purpose of developing the personality of their pupils and bringing about behavioral changes in them.”

Bobbitt (1918) defined curriculum as “the series of things that children and youth should do and experience to develop the capacity to do well the things that make up the affairs of adult life: and all the affairs “In this, adults should be the way adults should be.” , Here Bobbitt set out curriculum objectives based on the skills and knowledge required by adults.

Ralph Tyler (1949) has presented similar ideas about curriculum but he has combined curriculum and instruction in his approach. Probably he thought that curriculum and instruction could not be separated otherwise the goals and objectives of curriculum planning would not be achieved.

Curriculum as a system

Curriculum can be seen as a framework designed to manage individuals and the structures and methods in place to execute this framework effectively, as stated by Babcock, McNeil, and Untruth.

Curriculum as a field of study

The curriculum can be seen as an area of learning that has its own set of fundamental concepts, areas of expertise, research, theories, and guiding principles, as explained by Orlosky, Smith, Schubert, and Tanners.

Scope of curriculum

The curriculum is extensive, covering various aspects of students’ lives such as their needs, interests, and the environment conducive to their education. It focuses on how to engage students effectively, promote social skills, and integrate them into their community. It reflects educational philosophy, values, and goals, with a primary emphasis on the child’s development. Subjects like history, geography, science, and language serve as tools rather than ends in themselves, designed to support the holistic education of the child.

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