Examine a curriculum guide for a subject and grade level of your choice.
1. Giving clear examples from the document, indicate the two (2) orientations that are most evident? (4 marks)
2. Why do you think these orientations are emphasized at this level? (Give evidence to support your answer) (6 marks)
At the end of this session, you will be able to:
1. Distinguish between five curriculum orientations
2. Verify the inclusion of curriculum conceptions in different educational settings
The different definitions of curriculum that exist indicate that educators have different views about the meaning of curriculum. The outlook that one
has to curriculum is influenced particularly, by three things:
1. the way one sees the world (philosophy);
2. the values that one holds about how children develop and learn (psychology);
(3) one’s ideas on social issues (sociology).
Nonetheless, curriculum writers generally agree that five conceptions or orientations capture the essence of contemporary thought on this subject.
Sowell (2000) informs us that a conception of curriculum suggests a particular purpose of education with appropriate content and organisation.
Curriculum content is derived from the same sources that give rise to the purpose of education- subject matter, needs of the society and culture, and
needs and interests of the learners.
Eisner and Vallance (1974) identified five orientations to curriculum. They are as follows:
1. Curriculum as the Development of Cognitive Processes
This orientation to curriculum seeks to develop in the learner arepertoire of cognitive skills that are applicable to a wide range of intellectual
problems. Of importance is the way in which the subject matter is presented. Therefore, focus is on the process of education, not the product.
Advocates of this orientation take the position that education should not place emphasis on learners’ memorization of information, rather, on the
problem solving skills needed to help them become independent in the pursuit of understanding the world.
2. Curriculum as Self-Actualisation
This orientation emphasises the personal and social aspects of the curriculum. Schooling is expected to become means of personal fulfilment to provide
a context in which individuals discover and develop their unique abilities. This view is a child-centred one which focuses on the affective side of the
3. Curriculum as Technology
This orientation views education as a systematic and predictable process that can be made more efficient through proper organisation. As such it is
preoccupied with the efficient development and packaging of information to facilitate pre-specified learning outcomes. Behavioural objectives are
specified, content and activities are sequenced to coincide with the objectives. Learning activities are evaluated in relation to those stated goals
and objectives. The individuality of the learner is not emphasized in this orientation at all.
4. Curriculum as Academic Rationalism
The major goal of this orientation is to transmit the cultural heritage of a society. In this orientation, the purpose of education is to cultivate
cognitive achievements and the intellect, by helping students to understand knowledge. Academic rationalists argue that through study of the various
disciplines (sciences, history, languages) students learn to think with precision, generality and power in problem-solving in all areas of life.
5. Curriculum as Social Reconstruction-Relevance
Social reconstructionists see schooling within the larger context of society. Schooling is seen as an agency of social change and they demand that
education be relevant both to the students’ interests and to society’s needs. The role of the curriculum is not only to prepare individuals to fit into
a rapidly changing society but also to prepare them to intervene to effect change in their societies.