Foundations of Curriculum B.Ed Notes

The basis of curriculum outlines the outer limits of what is considered knowledge within curriculum studies, determining which sources are deemed credible for developing accepted theories, principles, and ideas relevant to the field. These foundations establish the framework within which curriculum operates, typically examined through philosophical, sociological, and psychological perspectives. Philosophically, education strives for self-realization and values. Sociologically, it seeks to preserve cultural traditions, maintain societal order, and address societal needs. Psychologically, education aims to foster the development of physical, mental, and emotional attributes.

Philosophical Foundation of Curriculum

Philosophical foundations encompass the philosophical principles that guide decisions regarding the goals, approaches, and content of education.

These principles serve as the cornerstone for curriculum development, either serving as the starting point or working in tandem with other factors. John Dewey described philosophy as the overarching theory of education, shaping the aims and methods of schooling. He saw education as the arena where philosophical ideas are put into practice and tested.

Philosophical perspectives have a significant impact on education, providing the underlying meaning to our choices and behaviors. Dewey emphasized the essential role of philosophy in shaping fundamental attitudes, both intellectual and emotional, towards the natural world and society.


Idealism posits that a belief is deemed true when it aligns logically with our existing beliefs, rooted in the Coherence theory of truth. This theory asserts that truth is found in the coherence within our experiences. Idealism emphasizes the precedence of consciousness, suggesting that the mind holds primacy over material existence, implying that the essence of the universe is spiritual. Idealists uphold the notion of an innate harmony between humanity and the universe, with knowledge being the process of revisiting latent ideas within the mind. In education, idealistic curriculum reflects the cultural heritage of humanity, as advocated by philosophers like Plato and Nunn. Plato advocates for intellectual, aesthetic, and moral activities to pursue life’s ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness, focusing on disciplines like language, literature, history, and ethics. Nunn expands this to include physical, social, moral, and religious activities, emphasizing a broad range of subjects including literature, art, music, and science, promoting a curriculum centered on the mind and knowledge-based education.


Naturalism promotes tailoring learning experiences to fit a child’s current needs, interests, and activities. It suggests minimizing adult intervention and allowing children to develop in a free environment. Naturalists prioritize child-centered teaching methods, stressing the importance of motivation and engaging tools to keep children interested in lessons. They advocate for giving children complete freedom and believe in discipline through natural consequences.


The pragmatist sees the connection between humanity and the world as a continual journey toward a flexible balance. According to utility theory, truth is determined by what proves effective in practice. This viewpoint values change, process, and relative truths, viewing knowledge as an ongoing evolution rather than fixed truths or external standards. In education, pragmatic curriculum prioritizes practical, utilitarian subjects tailored to the individual needs, interests, and experiences of students, emphasizing integration and utility. It asserts that curriculum should be closely tied to the social context and advocates for broad, diversified, experience-centered, and problem-based approaches. Essentially, pragmatic curriculum is rooted in people’s experiences and requirements.


Realism is a philosophical standpoint grounded in common sense and scientific principles. It asserts that the real world exists independently of an individual’s perception or interpretation. Realists perceive the world in terms of tangible objects and material substances. They believe that people can understand the world through their senses and reasoning abilities. Realism is closely aligned with the idea that the nature and characteristics of the material universe remain unaffected by human awareness of them. It subscribes to the principles of independence and the correspondence theory of truth, suggesting that truth mirrors reality.

In educational contexts, realism is reflected in curricula that prioritize the study of the material world, physical sciences, and quantitative aspects of learning. Realists emphasize an objective understanding of reality governed by natural laws and principles. They often characterize the universe as mechanical or materialistic. Within the realist approach to education, learners are expected to grasp scientific facts and natural laws as fundamental to acquiring knowledge. The curriculum typically focuses on organizing subject matter related to the physical world and categorizing objects based on observable phenomena.

Realism advocates for the exploration of natural laws and universal truths through activities that involve mastering factual information about the physical world. Field trips, laboratory experiments, the use of audio-visual materials, and direct engagement with nature are essential components of the realist methodology. Realistic curricula prioritize knowledge-based, subject-centered learning, encompassing both humanistic and scientific subjects.


Existentialism is a philosophical perspective that focuses on the individual’s existence as the central concern. It posits that meaningful existence arises from active engagement in society rather than adherence to predetermined moral codes. Unlike traditional philosophical inquiries into the nature of reality, existentialism is more interested in the process of self-discovery and decision-making. It prioritizes personal experience over abstract concepts and advocates for individual freedom and responsibility. Existentialists emphasize the importance of personal choice and action, favoring a curriculum that explores human experiences and life situations over scientific knowledge.


Essentialism prioritizes a curriculum centered around academic subjects, focusing on essential skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic, and essential subjects such as English, science, history, and math. It promotes mastering the fundamental skills and knowledge that underpin each subject area.


Progressivism in education centers around tailoring the curriculum to students’ interests and engaging them with real-world problems. It emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, hands-on activities, and projects. Progressivist education also highlights the importance of relevance, humanism, and radical reform in schools. While few schools strictly adhere to a single philosophy, most blend different approaches. Curriculum developers play a crucial role in aligning school practices with the philosophy of both the school and its community. Teaching, learning, and curriculum should all harmonize with the school’s philosophy. Therefore, educators, particularly those involved in curriculum, must make decisions and take actions in accordance with their school and community’s values and beliefs.

Psychological Foundation of Curriculum

Education now focuses more on the individual child, meaning it has been influenced by psychology. This psychological aspect is made up of the understanding gained over time, which helps shape how learning happens and enables teachers to make informed choices about how students behave.

Sociological foundations of Curriculum

The educational system of a country mirrors the hopes and goals of its evolving society. According to John Dewey, schools should serve as small communities and early representations of society. Education isn’t a standalone process; it’s intertwined with society, shaped by it, and shaping it in return. As culture shifts, so must education to stay relevant. Failure to adapt leaves education disconnected from real life, rendering it ineffective and meaningless. Society is dynamic, constantly evolving, and education must keep pace. Cultural changes should be reflected in the curriculum, guiding learners towards beneficial changes.

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