In formal education, a curriculum ( /kəˈrɪkjʉləm/; plural: curricula /kəˈrɪkjʉlə/ or curriculums) is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum came from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. Curriculum has numerous definitions, which can be slightly confusing. In its broadest sense a curriculum may refer to all courses offered at a school. This is particularly true of schools at the university level, where the diversity of a curriculum might be an attractive point to a potential student.
A curriculum may also refer to a defined and prescribed course of studies, which students must fulfill in order to pass a certain level of education. For example, an elementary school might discuss how its curriculum, or its entire sum of lessons and teachings, is designed to improve national testing scores or help students learn the basics. An individual teacher might also refer to his or her curriculum, meaning all the subjects that will be taught during a school year.
On the other hand, a high school might refer to a curriculum as the courses required in order to receive one’s diploma. They might also refer to curriculum in exactly the same way as the elementary school, and use curriculum to mean both individual courses needed to pass, and the overall offering of courses, which help prepare a student for life after high school.
Famous quotes containing the word curriculum:
“If we focus exclusively on teaching our children to read, write, spell, and count in their first years of life, we turn our homes into extensions of school and turn bringing up a child into an exercise in curriculum development. We should be parents first and teachers of academic skills second.”
—Neil Kurshan (20th century)