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Common misconceptions about curriculum

Teachers in training are likely to enter their programmes with some or all of these common
misconceptions about curriculum. These are misconceptions shared by the public. The course Instructor
needs to be aware of these misconceptions, as well as others that may be unique to individual Student
Teachers. The Instructor should constantly search for ways to help Student Teachers confront and
critique these misconceptions so that they can intelligently create, use, and interpret their schools
curriculum. Examples of common misconceptions include the following:
The curriculum is just a textbook or list of topics from which a student is to be taught and assessed.
The syllabus is the curriculum and once the syllabus has been completed, the teachers work is largely
finished.
Curriculum should be developed by offsite experts, and teachers should implement it as the designers
intended.
The curriculum tells teachers what to teach, how to teach it, and what types of exercises to assign to
their students.
The curriculum should be based on the final examination, not the other way around.
The curriculum is exactly what the teacher teaches and expects students to learn. (There is no hidden
curriculum.)
The curriculum is best delivered by lecture.



Confronting misconceptions
A syllabus has a wide range of functions, from serving as point of contact between students and
teachers to acting as a learning contract between them. Once a syllabus has been developed, it
becomes the teachers basis for planning.
It does not mean the teachers work is completeit has only just begun


Teachers make final decisions about what to teach, how to teach it, and what types of exercises to
assign to their students. They base these decisions primarily on what they know about their students
and the curriculum they are following. (This is in contrast to teaching for examinations.)
In most cases, teachers should be expected to adapt school curricula to meet the needs of their
students. However, there may be exceptions in which it is essential for a teacher to implement a
curriculum with precision, such as if a curriculum has been designed to teach about an urgent public
health issue or is being piloted.
All examinations should be based on the curriculum that has been designed for a particular subject or
age group and what is actually being taught. Curricula should not be test driven. Tests should be
curriculum driven.
The intended curriculum is what curriculum designers and teachers intend for students to learn. In
reality, what they learn is influenced by many hidden factors, such as the students themselves, the
classroom environment, and what is going on in the world around them.
Hidden curriculum is difficult to define because it varies among students and their experiences, and it
is constantly changing as the knowledge and beliefs of a society evolve.
There is no one best way to teach most things. Lecturing is effective in some situations, but rarely for
young children and only some of the time for adults.
On school campuses, the all-around development of an individual is a key objective of co-curricular
activities (compared to lecturing).
Adapted from course notes by Dr Saeed Khan.