Curriculum and programme planning – defining the concepts and questioning their use

Considering the term ‘curriculum’

Diti Hill invites us to consider what we mean by the terms ‘curriculum’ and ‘programme planning’. She explains:

“Nuttall (2002) talks of teachers who, while ‘aware of ‘official’ definitions’, have never ‘negotiated what they mean when they talk about ‘the curriculum’ (p.5). Nuttall goes on to discuss the confusion that seems to exist between ‘curriculum’ and ‘programme’ and distinguishes ‘overt curriculum,’ ‘usually called ‘programme planning” (p7), from ‘hidden curriculum’, identified as ‘children’s experiences which are both unplanned and undocumented by the adults’. Furthermore, Nuttall (2003) stresses that unless practitioners explore their role ‘within the various traditions to which they have been exposed’ … ‘an alignment on concepts such as ‘curriculum’ and ‘teacher role’ will be constantly confounded’ (175)” (22)

Hill points out that Te Whariki defines curriculum as: “‘…the sum total of the experiences, activities and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development.’ (p.10)” (22) “For me,” she continues, “programme planning is fundamentally about adults; adults who assume their responsiblity for the care and education of children in terms of a shared body of knowledge and a shared pedagogy. On the other hand, I would argue that curriculum, both ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ (or ‘hidden’) is fundamentally about children, their lived experiences and the way in which they make sense of these experiences; children who, ironically, ‘do not live their lives in curriculum fragments.’ (Hill, 2001, p.12)” (22)

Challenges in comprehending the notion of ‘curriculum’

Hill writes: “Much of the challenge experienced in comprehending the notion of ‘curriculum’ and its alignment with practice and other pedagogical concepts stems from historical interpretations of the Latin root currere – ‘the running of the race’. As Cannella (1997) points out, ‘curriculum’ has been open to interpretation over several centuries, ‘meaning everything from educational content and objectives to all of educational experience (Pinar, 1975)” (p.99). This breadth of meaning both complicates and facilitates the understanding of existing interpretations and the search for possibilities.” (22)

Hill continues: “Cannella (1997) identifies three historical and internationally acknowledged early childhood curriculum perspectives; preferred curriculum knowledge, a focus on child-centredness and the organisation of curriculum goals and outcomes. These same contentious curriculum perspectives have underpinned the planning of learning experiences within most New Zealand early childhood centres over the years and, in many cases, up to the present day. Te Whariki, then becomes a problematic and relatively recent political overlay within an established framework of earlier curriculum perspectives.” (23)

The fragmented curriculum and holistic learning

“…while any curriculum defined for adult practitioners is inevitably fragmented, the infants, toddlers and young children at the heart of the curriculum live their own lives in an unfragmented and holistic way. Practitioners who work with infants and toddlers must not only consider the complexity of how and when a fragmented curricular process manifests itself but they must also keep in mind and align the many other contexts that influence their perceptions of curriculum implementation.” (21)

Ref: Diti Hill (2005) Curriculum: Challenges of context and complexity in early childhood settings. The First Years: Nga Tau Tuatahi. New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education, 7(1), 21-26


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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One Response to Curriculum and programme planning – defining the concepts and questioning their use

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