In standard usage does the word "curriculum" mean

  • That which ought to be taught and learned, as prescribed by authorities (i.e. teachers and textbook authors and the like); or
  • That which actually is taught and learned in conventional practice, regardless of whether it is consistent with what authorities say ought to be taught and learned; or
  • Something else?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It seems that, according to Wikipedia, your first meaning is the most common one. Of course, it depends on the context where the word is used. Also, see this: "There is no generally agreed upon definition of curriculum." $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jul 21 '15 at 3:57

I'm not sure what exactly "standard usage" means, but in educational research (and more specifically in mathematics education research) it is common to distinguish between the intended curriculum, the enacted curriculum. It is also fairly common to refer the attained curriculum and the tested curriculum.

When used outside of a research context -- for example, by practitioners, school administrators, and policymakers -- "curriculum" (without modifiers) almost always refers to the intended curriculum.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (+1) During my teacher training, there was a great deal of discussion about the hidden curriculum and what that meant. Ultimately I found this frustrating because, coming from a mathematics / computer science background, I was looking for what meaning the phrase would bring me, but those leading the discussion were looking for what meaning I could bring to the phrase. $\endgroup$ – AndrewC Jul 22 '15 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewC : I wonder if you can explain that last remark. In mathematics, there is a de-facto curriculum that nobody talks about, whose existence is an elephant in the room, which the nominal curriculum is a naked emperor. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Jun 23 '18 at 17:29

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