Curriculum Designs
Most curriculum designs can be grouped into the following three basic designs; namely, subject-centred designs, learner-centred designs and problemcentred designs (see Table 6.1). Subject-Centred Designs include 5 types of designs: academic subject designs, discipline designs, broad field designs, correlation designs and process designs. Learner-Centred Designs include 3 types of designs identified as child-centred, romantic/radical designs and humanistic designs. Problem-Centred Designs include 3 types of design identified as lifesituations design, core design and social problems design (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1998). 1 Subject-Centred Designs Subject-Centred Designs are by far the most popular and widely used curriculum design. This is because knowledge and content are well accepted as integral parts of the curriculum. Since acquiring a body of content is integral in any school system, much thought has focussed on how best to present the knowledge, skills and values of subjects to learners and five approaches have been proposed: a) Academic Subject Design: The academic subject design is both the oldest and best known design to most people because it was the way many of them were educated. Is this true of you? This design is based on the belief that humans are unique because of their intellect and the quest for and acquisition of knowledge is to feed this intellect. In the 1930s, Robert Hutchins indicated that the academic subject design model for American schools should comprise; language and its uses (reading, writing, grammar, literature), mathematics, science, history and foreign languages. Has it changed today? Why is this model of curriculum design widely adopted? One reason

given is that it is much easily interpreted in textbooks and commercially available support materials. Since teaching is essentially a verbal activity (whether it be lecture, recitation, group discussion) teachers find it easier to

The main reason for this design arose from the concern that subjects taught were too compartimentalised and fragmented.2 communicate the ideas and knowledge of a subject presented in verbal form in textbooks. Proponents of the discipline design model emphasise the teaching of the disciplines in its pure form. Do you agree? b) Discipline Design: A discipline is a specific body of knowledge that has its own methods of inquiry. has a tradition. geography. people are familiar with this format. Stress on subject matter fails to foster social. What is the rationale for teaching the disciplines? According to its proponents. What is the main difference between the academic subject design model and the discipline based design model? Give examples c) Broad Fields Design: The broad fields design is also known as the interdisciplinary design. SELF-TEST 5. geometry. critics argue that this design deemphasises the learner by taking away their rights to choose the content that is most meaningful to them. psychological and physical development and to some extent fosters an elite ruling class based on knowledge (Ornstein and Hunkins. Also. a student who studies biology would approach the subject as a biologist while those who study history will study it as historians.3 1. The suggestion was to bring together content from different subject to form one . having gone through themselves when in school. Why is curriculum based on the academic subject design model popular even today? 2. algebra and so forth. literature. has its specialised words and terminology. For example. 1998). has a collection of literature and persons involved in the field as theoreticians and practitioners. the school is a mini version of the world of intellect and that the disciplines reflect that world. In other words. However.

For example. At one time there was a subject called Man and the Environment (Alam dan Manusia) implemented in Malaysian primary schools. some may argue whether students need such in-depth knowledge of a particular subject. treatment of the various social science concepts will be superficial. However. geography and history were combined to form the social studies. For sure. whole language ---------------------------------------------------------SubjectCentred Designs d) Correlation Design c) Broad Fields Design y Relate one subject to another with each keeping its identity y Thematic approach or Team teaching ---------------------------------------------------------y Teaching thinking processes such as critical & creative thinking. problem solving y Metacognitive training e) Process Design . For example. in studying the social studies over one year. economics. If the educational philosophy is to give students an overview of the social sciences. political science. Certainly. a) Academic Subjects Design b) Discipline Based Design y Separate subjects or courses ---------------------------------------------------------y Use structure of the discipline y Approach physics as a physicist y Use inquiry methods of the discipline ---------------------------------------------------------y Interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary y Eg. chemistry and physics). What do you see as some problems with this model? One is the issue of breadth versus depth. grammar. a year of economics will expose students to more economics concepts and principles than would a year of social studies.3 logical subject. Integrated science. Another example is language arts (composed of literature. sociology. linguistics and spelling) and general science (composed of biology. then the social studies might be a logical choice. students are exposed to a variety of social science concepts compared to only studying economics concepts for one year.

then the correlation design model might be an alternative. 1998. need and experiences are emphasised y Eg. Curriculum: Foundations. Principles and Issues. If you do not want your curriculum to consist of five separate subjects and neither do you want the five different subject areas to be fused into one subject.4 a) Child-Centred Design y Child s interest. For example. project method ---------------------------------------------------------LearnerCentred Designs c) Humanistic Design b) Radical Design y Learning is reflective and not externally imposed y Society is flawed and curriculum should emancipate the learner ---------------------------------------------------------y Stress development of self-concept of students y Uniqueness of individuals and importance of selfactualisation y Life situations design a) Life-Situations Design ProblemCentred Designs b) Core Design y Subject matter focuses on pressing social issues and solutions --------------------------------------------------------y Social functions core y Students work on problems crucial in today s society --------------------------------------------------------y Social problems and reconstructionist designs y Analyse severe problems confronting humankind c) Social Problems Design Summary of major curriculum designs [Source: adapted from Allan Ornstein and Francis Hunkins. For example. you may want to just fuse or correlate history with literature at the secondary school level. .264] d) Correlation Design: The correlation design model lies in between the academic design model and the broad fields design. p. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

5 in a history lesson the class learns about the Japanese occupation of Malaysia. students learn the methods of inquiry used by experts in the respective discipline. in studying anthropology. students read novels about life during that time period. Curriculum has focussed on the teaching of decision making. each subject retains its own distinct identity. The aim of the curriculum is to enhance these process skills applicable to all disciplines. Various educators have suggested that students should be taught to think. For example. The most popular example of the process design model is the teaching of thinking skills. e) Process Design: In the discipline based design discussed earlier. The good thinker is able to monitor his or her thinking and take steps to remedy faulty thinking. During the literature class. 2. Thinking critically is not unique to geography or physics. However. critical thinking and creative thinking. SELF-TEST 1 1. students will learn the various ethnographic procedures used in the field. such as identification of fallacies. The general assumption is that there are general thinking skills and processes are common regardless of the subject area. How is the teaching of thinking skills in the discipline based design model and process design model different? . Ennis (1963) identified a list critical thinking skills that should be taught. What is the main difference between the broad field design model and the correlation design model? Give examples. checking the credibility of sources and so forth. Advocates of the process design model stress the learning of general procedures and processes that are not applicable to any particular discipline. Neither is thinking creatively the sole domain of art or literature. problem solving. In the process design curriculum students are also taught to be aware of their thinking and to take action when necessary.

An early advocate of the child-centred curriculum was French philosopher JeanJacques Rousseau (1712-1778) who in his book Emile made the child the focus of the educational process. In the child-centred design teaching and learning draw on the experiences of learners and the vast amount of information they bring to the classroom. 1994. Children need to be guided by the teacher according to their level of development. Using this design teachers and students negotiate what if of interest to learners and what content is to be included in the curriculum. In the child-centred design focus is on the needs and interests of learners. Learner-Centred Designs include 3 types of designs identified as childcentred.423). the focus of the content. to compare and contrast. nor soldier. its purposes. Perhaps. Learning should be related closely to the daily lives of students unlike the subjectcentred design which tends to separate content from the daily lives of learner. He emphasised that Living is the business that I wish to teach him. there is also an emphasis on learner-centred designs. This did not mean children were allowed to run free.6 2 Learner-Centred Designs While subject-centred designs are popular. Emphasis was on the development of the whole child and this was most evident in primary schools. a) Child-Centred Design: Proponents of the child-centred design believe that learners should actively participate in the teaching-learning process. a man (cited in Michel Soetard. nor priest: he will be. When he leaves my care he. be neither magistrate. The early supporters of the child-centred curriculum were largely the progressives. He argued that children are not blank slates and they bring with them four basic impulses the impulse to communicate. primarily. I grant. p. to inquire and to express themselves through language. the most well-known advocate of the child-centred design is John Dewey [Progressivism]. romantic/radical designs and humanistic designs. the learning activities to be introduced in the teaching- . Teachers and students participate in planning lesson units.

Proponents of the radical design operate on the assumption that society is corrupt and repressive. He objected to the teacher-student dichotomy and proposed the relationship between teacher and student be reciprocal. they have ownership over what they have learned resulting in genuine thought. b) Radical Design: In this design. Children should be educated towards the goal of social reform. The project method became a popular pedagogical strategy in the child-centred design in which children solved problematic situations calling on their knowledge and skills of science. the child-centred curriculum will be constantly changing. Learners will value what they learn if they are allowed to construct their own knowledge. the focus is the learner which is quite similar to the child-centred design. When learners create meaning. The curriculum should be so designed to free the learner from indoctrination. in meeting the needs of students. history.7 learning situations. Knowledge is not the finished product to be acquired by learners because this is indoctrination. the teacher who learns and the learner who teaches . In the child-centred model. . by doing things for themselves rather that being told how to do something. learning is reflective and not externally imposed by those in power. [Constructivism]. first hand. Hence. the traditional subjects are not rejected but rather used to solve problems that are of interest to learners. In other words. the interests and experiences of the learner become subject-matter of the curriculum. The difference being that greater emphasis is placed on the need for the curriculum to reform society [we dealt with this in Module 2 Reconstructionism]. Children are given the freedom to discover. Learning is something that results from the interaction between and among people. that is. art and so forth. A well-known proponent of the radical design was Paulo Freire who opposed treating students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge by the teacher. According to proponents of this curriculum design. Learners should challenge content and allowed to give their opinions about the information given to them.

a third category called the Problem-Centred Designs is proposed. 1998).8 c) Humanistic Design: The humanistic design became popular in the 60s and 70s in response to excessive overemphasis on the disciplines during the 50s and early 60s in the United States. SELF-TEST 2 1. What is the main difference between the child-centred design model and the radical design model? 3 Problem-Centred What is the main feature of the humanistic design model? 3. The humanistic curriculum design focuses on the interconnectedness of the cognitive. There is also a tendency to overemphasise the individual and ignore the needs of society. Proponents of the humanistic design based their arguments on the principles of humanistic psychology. learners will be able to become fully functional persons. To facilitate learning. The design stresses the development of positive selfconcept and interpersonal skills of learners. Problem-centred designs are . What is the main focus of curriculum based on the Learner-Centred Designs? 2. their opinions and caring for them. the teacher accepts learners as persons. One of the proponents of the humanistic curriculum design was Carl Rogers (1902-1987) who argued that the aim of education is the facilitation of learning. In other words. placing importance on their feelings. A basic question asked is whether the curriculum has allowed a person to truly achieve his or her full potential. are critical learners and able to approach problems situations with flexibility and work cooperatively with others (Ornstein and Hunkins. The focus of this category of models is the problems faced by society. Greater emphasis was to be placed on the affective domain to permit students of feel and value. capable of intelligent choice. This may be difficult to obtain in all teachers. Designs Besides the Subject-Centred and Learner-Centred curriculum design models. The humanistic curriculum requires teachers with great skills and competence in dealing with individuals. the teacher is able to view the world through the student s eyes. affective and psychomotor domains. With such a curriculum. The curriculum should be designed to empower learners to be involved in the process of realising their potential.

It was argued by its advocates that it makes educational sense to organise a curriculum around such life situations. The content is organised in a manner that allow students to see problems faced by society. It aims to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skills to fit into society when they leave school. It is carefully planned before students enter school and adjusted when necessary. having students study social or life situations will encourage them to see ways to improve society. racial tolerance. proponents of the model state that this is not true because the design draws heavily from the traditional subject areas. ethical character. Also. a) Life-centred situations: In any society there are persistent life situations that are crucial to a society s successful functioning. The learner is placed in the social setting to address the problem.9 pre-determined before the arrival of students. The difference being that certain problems are selected to form the core. This life-centred situations curriculum has been criticised because students do not learn much subject matter. religious institutions and other community organisations. However. In other words. Unlike the learnercentred designs. The life situations that need to be emphasised in schools will depend on what students need before entering the world of work and assuming adult responsibilities. Examples of such life situations are healthy living. use of leisure time. However. the problems or issues discussed originate from issues that are of concern to society. citizenship skills and so forth. Students will see direct relevance in studying such social issues when they are related to their world. b) Core-design: A variation of the life-centred situations design is the coredesign model. content is drawn from different subject areas to explain and find solutions to current issues. So. Focus is still on the pressing problems of society. genuine life problems are selected and teaching-learning activities organised around these issues. some needs and interests have already been met by the family. The core . In addressing society s pressing problems. the school should address those needs not met through these institutions.

What is the main difference between the life-centred design model and the core. A problem solving approach is adopted in analysing social problems.10 problems are taught to all students in a block-time format whereby two or more periods of class time is used. SELF-TEST 3 1. Findings are evaluated and discussed. Data is collected.design model? . Students select a problem through consensus and work either individually or in groups. What is the main focus of curriculum based on the Problem-Centred Designs? 2. analysed. interpreted and presented in class.

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