The world of education is continuously evolving, and curriculum has always been at the heart of this process. Depending on the educational institution, students may encounter different types of curricula in the classroom. In this article, we’ll explain what each type of curriculum is and how it works in the educational environment.
Whether it’s traditional curriculums, experimental curriculums, enrichment curriculums, or something else, we’ll cover a comprehensive overview of the eight types.
Traditional curriculum is probably the most widely recognized form of curriculum used in education today; it focuses heavily on the basics of information, such as mathematic principles, language, reading and writing. This type of curriculum is very prescribed in behavior, and students are often asked to learn and memorize facts, laws and theories that are accepted within that particular discipline.
As far as structure goes, traditional curriculum has a hierarchical model. It’s solely based on knowledge that builds upon the foundations and moves up in terms of the level of difficulty. From this perspective, students must first learn the basics of a subject-area in order to progress to more advanced levels.
This is why traditional curriculums are a vital component of the education system, as it forms the basis of information for many subjects. In terms of flexibility, traditional curriculums are not very adaptive; this is due to the fact that its primary purpose is to impart specific subject knowledge. Therefore, when it comes to the teaching and learning process, very little creativity is allowed.
Teaching methods are generally traditional, meaning lectures and demonstrations are utilized to convey knowledge and information.
Unlike traditional curriculums, experimental curriculum is more adaptable and allows student creativity and exploration of a subject-area. This is because it is based on the philosophy that learning should be related to real-world experiences, so students are exposed to different forms of information and concepts. In contrast to traditional curricula, experimental curricula tend to be less hierarchical and dictate a wider and more open range of learning activities.
This includes the use of technology, and experimental curricula often prioritize the development of basic intellectual skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking. The design of an experimental curriculum can depend on the teaching methods chosen and the type of activities used to facilitate learning.
Different areas can be explored in more detail and feedback can be evaluated and given. Therefore, it’s more beneficial for engaging students in their own learning experience.
An enrichment curriculum, sometimes referred to as a supplemental curriculum, is designed to enrich a traditional curriculum by adding additional information, activities, and resources. This is usually done to cover a specific area that the traditional curriculum does not address.
For example, this can include activities such as project-based learning, outdoor activities, and field trips. All these extra sources of information are additional in nature and focus on supplementing the fundamental knowledge taught by a traditional curriculum. This type of curriculum is beneficial in the sense that it provides opportunities for students to learn more and gain experience that they can’t get from the classroom.
Ultimately, it provides a more well-rounded educational experience and allows students to learn more than they could from a traditional curriculum alone.
When it comes to core curricula, this type of curriculum is very focused and narrow in scope. It is based on the belief that all students should learn the same fundamental information and knowledge as outlined by an educational institution.
Core curriculums are designed for comprehensive learning experiences and looks at aspects such as subject matter, problem-solving, and higher-level thinking skills. The information taught is usually in-depth and provides a thorough understanding of a subject-area. In terms of design, this type of curriculum requires more content and detail than a traditional curriculum.
However, it still follows a hierarchical format, beginning with the basics and moving up to more advanced concepts.
Unlike the hierarchical structure of traditional and core curriculums, thematic curriculums are less linear and prioritize connections between different subject-areas and different ideas. As the name suggests, this type of curriculum is often organized around a specific theme or idea, and students are asked to explore and analyze the concepts related to it. This allows them to gain further insights on the themes explored and build their understanding of the wider topic.
At its core, a thematic curriculum explores knowledge and information holistically and encourages students to look at the ‘bigger picture’. This type of learning is beneficial as it promotes flexible thinking and helps students draw connections between different ideas.
Montessori curriculum is based on the teaching methods developed by educational reformer Maria Montessori. This type of curriculum heavily emphasizes the development of independent learning, as well as allowing for plenty of exploration.
In terms of structure, Montessori curriculum is very open and adaptive, which means that students are often encouraged to work at their own pace. Additionally, Montessori curriculum places a lot of emphasis on activity-based learning and practical tasks that enable students to get “hands-on” with the information they’re learning. Self-directed exploration is also part of Montessori curriculums, as it allows students to make their own decisions based on the knowledge they’ve acquired.
This allows for more creative learning and encourages problem-solving and critical thinking among students.
International Baccalaureate Curriculum
The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is designed for educational institutions that cater to students from a variety of backgrounds. This is because the curriculum prioritizes cross-cultural understanding and global awareness, which allows students to have a better understanding of different cultures and language.
The IB curriculum is based on learning outcomes, meaning that students are expected to demonstrate different skills and objectives in order to progress. In terms of teaching method, this type of curriculum heavily incorporates inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge through the exploration of supportive materials. Furthermore, this type of curriculum also places emphasis on developing life skills, such as communication and team building.
This is beneficial as it helps students understand how different concepts and knowledge can be applied to real-life scenarios.
Differentiated curriculum is based on the principle of fitting the learning level, style, and interest of the student. This means that teachers must adapt the curriculum and the teaching methods to meet the individual needs of their students. Differentiated curriculum can take many forms, depending on the specific subject-area.
For example, it can involve offering a mix of activities that cater to different learning styles, such as group and independent tasks. It can also mean adjusting the pace of instruction to a student’s ability level, or introducing alternative teaching methods that engage particular types of learners.
Ultimately, the main purpose of a differentiated curriculum is to ensure that all students have the chance to learn and progress, regardless of their individual needs or Learning differences.
Inquiry Based Curriculum
Inquiry based curriculum is based on the notion that knowledge is best acquired through research and exploration. This means that students are encouraged to engage in tasks such as exploration of resources, investigation of topics and ideas, and development of research-based projects. To achieve this, an inquiry-based curriculum utilises a combination of activities, such as field trips and projects.
Furthermore, inquiry based curriculums also require students to reflect on what they’ve learnt and develop deeper understanding of concepts. The teaching method associated with this type of curriculum is focused around experimentation and exploration.
This engages students to think and ask questions, rather than simply memorizing information. By doing this, students build upon their knowledge and gain deeper insight into the subject-area.
The types of curricula discussed in this article demonstrate the importance of education, and how it needs to be tailored to meet the needs of students. Some focus more on the basics and imparting knowledge, whilst others promote independent exploration and enquiry. Ultimately, it is important for educational institutions to consider the type of curriculum that works best for their particular setting.
Traditional, experimental, and core curriculums provide foundational information, whereas enrichment curriculums supplement this knowledge with creative and experiential activities. Montessori, International Baccalaureate, thematic, and inquiry-based curriculums offer different opportunities for students to think critically and explore subjects independently.
Finally, differentiated curriculum allows for teachers to tailor their teaching to accommodate the individual needs of their students. Education is continuously evolving, and the range of curricula available reflects that.
By understanding the different types and their purpose, educational institutions can ensure that their students gain the most from their learning experiences.