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The Concept of Curriculum

A simple definition of curriculum is that it is an umbrella term referring to a course of study. However, Finch and Crunkilton refine the definition further, describing curriculum as "the sum of the learning activities that a student has under the auspices or direction of the school" (1999, p. 11). The way that this author's definition differs from that of Finch and Crunkilton is that their definition positions the concept of curriculum institutionally and within the scheme of formal instruction. It is also important to distinguish between curriculum as having coverage of a range of subjects and individual courses, which would focus on specific subject areas. That does not mean that curriculum exists in a vacuum, since the authors describe American education more generally as a combination of formal and informal instruction and consider education for both life and career as relevant to the learning process (p. 10). That is reflected in an illustration showing the intersection of these attributes.

The illustration is especially appropriate to vocational education for the reason that it has real-world application. As Finch and Crunkilton state, vocational curricula are "based on identified particular needs of a particular locale" (p. 15). The fact that such instruction is results oriented means that pedagogical effectiveness is of paramount importance. This means that, in a given subject area, formal instruction that involves theory and related analysis may not capture the most important issue fronts to be covered in a course of study. Instead, experience and practical training loom large. This fact is relevant to this researcher's experience as a law-enforcement officer. The police routinely encounter persons whose experience of formal academic education is relatively limited and/or who might have difficulty absorbing theoretical lessons; the experience of many such persons is that their education for life has been deeply flawed. A t...

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The Concept of Curriculum. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:26, January 20, 2019, from