Curriculum is the program of instruction and study that is taught in schools and universities. It’s made up of a range of topics and activities that are designed to help students learn and develop while they are at school.
However, curriculums vary from country to country, as well as from school to school or even from teacher to teacher. But there are four basic types of curriculum: Traditional, Outcome-Based, Classical, and Montessori.
1. Traditional Curriculum
Traditional curriculums include the three ‘Rs’ of reading, writing, and arithmetic. This type of curriculum focuses heavily on the subjects of language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies. Its structured approach has been around in the U.
S. since the late 1800s and is still used in some schools today.
A traditional curriculum revolves around the absorption and application of facts and knowledge and puts less emphasis on self-exploration, creativity and problem solving. When it comes to a traditional curriculum, there are certain milestones such as standardized tests, intermediate units, and grades that students must reach to be considered proficient at a certain level. The way to measure progress in a traditional curriculum is often based on the mastery of particular skills, facts, and the understanding of certain academic theories.
At the core of a traditional curriculum is the basic understanding of the core areas of study. The goal is to ensure that students obtain a general education backing them up in the future as they decide what to study and at what level.
2. Outcome-Based Curriculum
An outcome-based curriculum focuses on the purpose or goal of learning, as opposed to the traditional focus on the content of learning. It requires students to understand what they want to learn, how they want to learn it, and how they will measure their success. This approach emphasizes the identification of needed skills and competencies; the development of objectives that target these needs; and the assessment of outcomes to measure student mastery.
This type of curriculum is used to create a focus and purpose for learning and to ensure that students develop a range of so-called ‘21st century’ skills such as teamwork, problem solving and creativity. It aims to help students develop the skills they will need in the real world, not just in the classroom, and this means that different methods of instruction, such as project-based learning and inquiry-based learning, are often used.
3. Classical Curriculum
The Classical curriculum draws on the educational theories and practices of ancient Greece and Rome. It is largely based on the teaching of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who believed that the purpose of education was to develop moral character and develop the intellect. Classical curriculum follows a strict and logical plan of teaching; students go through a long, rigorous course of study.
The traditional and fundamental subject matters, such as grammar, rhetoric, and logic, are the backbone of the curriculum and are taught in the order that Aristotle prescribed. In addition, students learn Latin and Greek, and read classic literature to understand the great debates of history.
This type of curriculum is designed to develop critical thinking and the power of analysis. Rather than merely memorizing facts, students are being taught to think and to understand complex theories and ideas.
4. Montessori Curriculum
Developed by Italian educator Maria Montessori, the Montessori curriculum focuses on developing children’s natural inclinations and interests. It is based on a hands-on approach to learning where children are encouraged to explore their environment and learn at their own pace, without the strict structure of a traditional curriculum.
The Montessori curriculum emphasizes the development of practical skills such as counting and using tools, as well as developing soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and problem solving. This type of curriculum focuses on developing the whole person—intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically—rather than only focusing on academic achievement.
The four types of curriculum offer different approaches to education. Traditional, Outcome-Based, Classical and Montessori curriculums all have their strengths and weaknesses and offer different opportunities to students.
It is up to each school, and each teacher, to decide which type of curriculum best suits their students and their academic goals.