Child Pedagogy Notes: CURRICULUM


According to Smith (1996, 2001) ‘the idea of curriculum is hardly new – but the way we understand and theorize it has altered over the years – and there remains a dispute as to meaning’.

The Latin meaning of the term ‘curriculum’ is a ‘racecourse’ used by chariots. Hence, it can be understood as any path or course of study which to be undertaken by an educational institution, to be covered in a specified timeframe. The course of events can take place both inside and outside the school. Hence, while defining curriculum as ‘course of events’, one need to elaborate, ‘which course of events’. It encompasses “the total experience provided to the learners in and out of school’.


Differentiating Between Curriculum Framework, Curriculum, Syllabus and Text Books

Most often, there is confusion in the terms curriculum framework, syllabus and curriculum itself. Let us try to understand the difference among these terms.

Curriculum Framework: It is a plan that interprets educational aims vis – a – vis both individual and society in order, to arrive at an understanding about the kinds of learning experiences to be given to the learner in the schools.

Curriculum: You have already studied various definitions as curriculum. It must be clear to you know that of Curriculum is planned activities which are designed to implement a particular educational aim includes the content to be taught and the knowledge, skills and attitudes which are to be deliberately fostered, together with statements of criteria for selection of content, and choices in methods, materials and evaluation.

Syllabus: Refers to the content of what is to be taught and the knowledge, skills and attitudes which are to be deliberately fostered; together with stage specific objectives.

Textbook: When as a teacher, you start working with children in classrooms; you have some ‘content’ that you have to teach, in other words, you have a syllabus. That syllabus is very often confined in the textbook. Thus, a textbook becomes an embodiment of syllabus – all that is in it has to be taught, and that is all that is to be taught. It becomes a methodological guide for all aspects of classroom practices – i.e. what has to be read, it also becomes the evaluation system – questions at the end of each chapter have to be answered orally and in writing, reproducing the text from the book itself. The possibility of providing enriched experiences to the children gets a little boost when teacher starts using textbooks as reflective guides.



The curriculum can broadly be classified into three main categories. These are:

  1. Overt or Explicit Curriculum
  2. Hidden or Implicit Curriculum
  3. Null Curriculum

Let us understand each of these categories.

Overt Curriculum

Overt curriculum is also known as explicit curriculum and intended curriculum. This includes all those curricular and co – curricular, experiences, which are intentionally planned by the school, college or university organization to be provided to the learners. It consists of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, which are overtly to be provided to the learners. Overt curriculum is designed keeping in mind the goals and objectives of the educational system. Thus, it is confined to those written understandings formally designed by curriculum designers and administrators.

Hidden Curriculum

Hidden Curriculum is unintended or unnoticed curriculum which is often unwritten. You know that curricular inputs are implicitly provided to the learner by the organization through various means. Learners learn a lot from the social environment of the classroom and the school. A teacher during her course of interaction with learners provide instructional inputs, which might not be planned and designed by her earlier. Through various non – verbal behaviour like gestures and postures, eye contact, appreciation of learner behaviour by nodding, the teacher conveys many things. A hidden curriculum also includes the value system of the school and its teachers. Hence, a hidden curriculum is as important as the overt curriculum. Learners learn ‘appropriate’ ways to act at school is the part of hidden curriculum.

Null Curriculum

It is physically not possible to teach everything in the schools, therefore many topics and subject areas are excluded intentionally. Eisner called them as ‘Null Curriculum’; For example, life education, career planning, etc. are not fine part of overt curriculum but are important areas.


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