Unit1: Curriculum Planning

1.1 Principles and approaches to curriculum development

1.2 Types of curriculum- developmental, functional, ecological and eclectic

1.3 Approaches to curricular transaction - child centred, activity centred and holistic.

1.4 Role of Teacher in Curriculum planning

1.5 Curricular models – Home based, Center-based, Inter-disciplinary, Multi-disciplinary, Trans-disciplinary.








1.1 Principles and approaches to curriculum development

Curriculum is the heart and soul of any educational process. It is the sum total of all that is rendered by an educational institution in bringing out the required changes in the child. The activities range from classroom to playground, and beyond. As you may have experienced, every society tries to socialise her child through the process of adjustment with the environment in which s/he lives. The curriculum is an instrument to fulfil such an objective. We shall discuss more in this unit about the meaning of curriculum, need and bases of curriculum, curriculum process, and the different types of curriculum.

Definitions of Curriculum
Curriculum has been defined in many ways by educationists. Some definitions are very specific and others are very wider in their meaning. Some of the important definitions are given below. You should read these definitions carefully and try to comprehend the underlying meaning of curriculum in each of the definitions.

1.     "A Curriculum is a structured series of intended learning outcomes" (Johnson, 1967).

2.     "Curriculum includes the totality of experiences that a pupil receives through the manifold activities that go on in the school - in the classroom, library, laboratory, workshop, playgrounds and in the numerous informal contacts between teachers and pupils. In this case the whole life of the school becomes the curriculum which can tough the life of the students of all points and help in the evolution of balanced personality" (Secondary Education Commission, 1952-53).

3.     "Curriculum is the sum total of student objectives which the school sponsors for the purpose of achieving its objectives" Alberty and Alberty, 1959).

4.     "A Curriculum is the formulation and implementation of an educational proposal, to be taught and learnt within schools or other institutions and for which that institution accepts responsibility at three levels: its rationale, its actual implementation and its effects" (Jenkin and Shipman, 1975).

5.     "Curriculum can refer to the total structure of ideas and activities, developed by an educational institution to meet the needs of students and to achieve desired educational aims" (Derek Rowntree in A Dictionary of Education, 1981).

6.     "A curriculum is all of the experiences that individual learners have in programme of education whose purpose is to achieve broad goals and related specific objectives, which is planned in terms of framework of theory and research or past and present Professional Practice" (Glen Hass, 1987).

Principles Of Curriculum Development
A good curriculum should aim at bringing out the maximum possible potentials of a child – may him be retarded or non-retarded. It has to take into consideration certain basic principles to arrive at a curriculum with achievable, practical goals.

Basic considerations and steps in curriculum development
A good curriculum influences the thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions of the learner in the given context. A good curriculum developed on sound learning theory principles will consider the environmental influences on the teaching learning situations. This includes,

1.     Government policies: Disabilities is an area of responsibility for more than one Government department. Health, Education, Welfare and Labour departments have their specific role to play in disability rehabilitation. In education, in India for instance, special education is the responsibility of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment whereas integrated education is under Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. The curricular decisions are influenced by the respective departments. It comes under as it is governed by the rules and regulations of the respective department. The National Policy on Education (1986) has specific mention on special education which has brought about changes in special education and integrated education. Similarly the Persons with Disabilities Act (1995) has certain mandates for education of the disabled persons, which is yet to be implemented. This is likely to have effect on teacher preparation, curriculum and instructions and other related areas.

2.     The school administrative policies: Many schools have their own policies and philosophy though they follow a prescribed syllabus of CBSE, ICSE, State Board and so on. The curriculum for special education should take into account the schools policies. For instance, admission decisions on age restriction or type or severity level of disability will influence the content of special education curriculum.

3.     Support systems available: Many children with disabilities require therapeutic, medical or counseling support. Not all schools are equipped with these facilities. Depending on the availability or non-availability of such facilities, the curriculum needs to include/make referral arrangements to ensure a wholistic curricular provision for the students who require these facilities.

4.     Family support: Every special education programme needs an extension of school training at home for successful transfer of training. A good curriculum should include activities for home training, which the teacher transfers to the caretaker for training at home. Suitable alternative should be sought for residential schools.

5.     Community resources: Normalization through integration and inclusion is the ultimate aim of special education, which cannot be accomplished without community participation. While developing the curriculum, the educational milieu should include the available community resources specific to each community for successful community participation and thus the spontaneous integration.

6.     Available teacher competencies: While regular school teachers are sensitized to special education in recent years, certain areas in disabilities require specific teacher competencies which a trained teacher can offer. The curriculum should focus on objective judgement of the competencies of the teacher and alternatives for filling gaps.

7.     Student profile: The disabilities vary in their nature and therefore, children with different disabilities require different content and process for transaction, yet maintaining the general curricular demands to the extent possible. Education of children with hearing impairment, visually impairment or locomotor disabilities have the prescribed school curriculum with certain modifications – deletion of certain content (such as second language for hearing impaired children) and addition of disability specific educational requirement called the `plus curriculum’ (such as Braille skills for visually impaired children). Functional curriculum is developed for children with mental retardation, which is, totally function oriented leading to personal adequacy, social competency and vocational preparation.

8.     Financial availability: While the basic requirements are to be met, the extent of success in any curriculum development depends on how practical and feasible it is. The financial implications play a major role in the decision making of `how much’ and `how far’ regarding content and process decision.
Whether one follows the child centered or activity centered or wholistic approach, the above considerations are of utmost importance. The above eight factors are inter-related among themselves and they interact with the teaching learning situation between the teacher and the learner. Thus if anyone of them has a change, it will affect the total, learning environment and its other components.

Approaches to Curriculum Development

Approach to curriculum is a design for deciding the various aspects of curriculum development and transaction. It is a planned or pattern of organization that the teachers follow in providing learning experiences to the learners.
There are various approaches to curriculum development. The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU, 1997) has grouped them into in four categories:

Subject-centred approach : According to the subject-centred approach, curriculum is organized around separate subject areas of knowledge. This is one of the most widely used approaches in curriculum development. The main responsibility of curriculum planner is to determine the different subject areas to be offered and different learning experiences from each subject to be offered. The programme of studies may be divided into different subjects like, language, mathematics, science, social studies, etc.
Broadfields approach : In this approach, curriculum is organized by combining two or more subject areas into a single broad field. Two or more closely related subjects/ disciplines are integrated to form a broad field. For example, a broad subject Biology is developed by combining the knowledge of subjects like, botany, zoology, physiology, anactomy, etc.
Social problems approach : In this approach, we organize curriculum around major problems found in the society. The curriculum developed through this approach creates an awareness among the learners regarding the social problems, and enables them to solve these problems. Through this approach, courses such as environmental problems, religion, population, communication, technology, etc. can be developed.
Learner-centred approach : This approach focuses on the personal and social needs of the learners in the course content. This approach prepares the children to face the present, rather than future. Psychologically sound and purposeful learning experiences should be planed to meet the learners needs. The learning experiences should be related to the developmental stages of the learners like, peer group interaction, developing personal values, developmental changes during puberty, adolescents, etc.


1.2 Types of curriculum- developmental, functional, ecological and eclectic

Functional Curriculum

A functional curriculum is a curriculum that focuses upon independent living skills and vocational skills, emphasizing communication and social skills. Students at the secondary level who are prime candidates for such a curriculum are identified. A procedure for assessing students for placement in the curriculum is described as well as methods for the teaching of social skills and the placement of students in community based jobs. Although many parts of the curriculum can be taught in a classroom setting, the need for generalizing those taught skills in the community is essential. Results with a population of students with severe emotional disturbances are described.

Learning functional academic skills for children with Mental Retardation is necessary in order to become independent and successfully seek employment. Declaration of UNESCO towards “Education for All” in 2000 AD, includes children with disabilities, this also addresses learning needs of students with Mental Retardation. Literacy skills of individuals with Mental Retardation are not the same as children with other special needs due to the limited intellectual capacity. However, individuals with Mental Retardation can use literacy and numeracy skills to some extent which are application-oriented if they are given right kind of training.

The Functional Curriculum focuses on various areas, including community skills, consumer skills, and domestic and self-help skills. Possessing consumer skills, such as the ability to shop, implies being able to make payment with cash, pay through debit cards, and locate a commodity and pay for it. Other money-associated skills being taught include making orders and making payments in restaurants by the use of a vending machine. Community skills include such basic skills as street crossing, while office skills and vocational skills are also areas to be taught. Additionally, in the domestic and self-help category, students are trained to take care of themselves in their home, hence being able to live independently. Such capabilities include laundry skills, preparing food, hygiene, putting away groceries, and dressing.

Ecological Curriculum

The planning team using the ecological approach to curriculum development devises an individual curriculum which addresses the skills, activities, and environments most relevant to the student. The curriculum content is ever changing as the needs of the student change.

It promotes teaching skills that are age-appropriate and relevant to the student's daily life, while it respects the need to teach skills in order of progressive refinement and complexity. It encourages the use of adaptations that accommodate the disability or simplify task demands.

The ecological approach also tends to unify team member efforts because the environments and activities that are identified as priorities for each student provide a natural context for integrating related services.


With reference to learning, the ecology metaphor is inspired by the study of the relationships of organisms with one another and their environment. It builds on the dialectic premises that underlie sociocultural, situative and sociomaterial approaches, but emphasizes a core premise that is strongly at variance with ideas that still dominate mainstream perspectives on learning: namely, that learning is not a confined, internal process but instead involves mutually constitutive relationships between individuals and their (social, intellectual and digital material) environments, where both person and environment are transformed. According to a sociocultural line of reasoning, the individual actively relates to environments of various natures (social, economic, cultural, personal, institutional) and those relationships then become internalized to form part of how a person knows and develops. But the individual also initiates externalization, production of knowledge or production of materials and, through this process, acts upon and changes the world. This understanding indicates both the way that knowledge, relationships and materials are organized, but also how they can be drawn upon by learners who are engaged in their own process of sense‐making and learning. Furthermore, learners may approach a variety of distributed resources and relate to different actions and environments (eg, professional, social, cultural, digital). The way we view it, an ecology of resources contains the wider pools of resources and infrastructures that learners can draw upon to construct their own learning spaces.


Eclectic Curriculum Development

 Eclecticism has been derived from the verb root “elect”. To elect means to choose and pick up. The good ideas, concept and principles from various schools of thought have been chosen, picked up and blended together to make a complete philosophy. Thus eclecticism is a philosophy of choice. Eclecticism is nothing but fusion of knowledge from all sources. It is a peculiar type of educational philosophy which combines all good ideas and principles from various philosophies. Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases. It can sometimes seem inelegant or lacking in simplicity, and eclectics are sometimes criticized for lack of consistency in their thinking. It is, however, common in many fields of study.

In the move away from teachers following one specific methodology, the eclectic approach is the label given to a teacher's use of techniques and activities from a range of language teaching approaches and methodologies. The teacher decides what methodology or approach to use depending on the aims of the lesson and the learners in the group. Almost all modern course books have a mixture of approaches and methodologies.

          The class starts with an inductive activity with learners identifying the different uses of synonyms of movement using a reading text. In another class the input is recycled through a task-based lesson, with learners producing the instructions for an exercise manual.

A person with an eclectic taste in music likes music of many different types, selected from a wide variety of musical genres. An eclectic approach would be one using a variety of methods of approaching/ tackling/ addressing/ dealing with a subject /problem /challenge/ task.


Advantages of eclectic approach

·        It is the nature of man that he likes change. He wants new and novel ways in every field of work. The same is the case with learning process. Learners always like something new and exciting. This approach is broad and may include every kind of learning activity and saves learner from monotony.

·        It is more appropriate for Pre School learning but not less beneficial in the class rooms.

·        It is helpful in all kinds of skills in stimulating a creative environment and gives confidence to the learners. In this approach children discovers and instill good ways of learning.

·        Above all this approach gives a chance to our common sense to mould and shape our method according to the circumstances and available materials of teaching aids.

·        These days, parents of first-time preschoolers are faced with the dilemma: where to enroll their kids. With all the existing teaching methods offered in schools, we can imagine how difficult choosing the right one is.

·        The Eclectic Method is explained here by Nelle S. Ricardo, school directress of The Children’s House International School (CHINS) in Marikina City and a specialist in Early Childhood Education & Special Education


1.3 Approaches to curricular transaction - child centred, activity centred and holistic.

Activity-Centred Curriculum
Some experts view curriculum "as various forms of activity that are grand expression of the human spirit and that are of the greatest and most permanent significance to the wide world". According activity-centred curriculum students, should learn by engaging themselves in various activities which is desirable and purposeful. It stresses the practical aspects of life. Emphasis is given on "learning by doing" and "learning by relating to life". Laboratory work and field work are given more importance. Activity-centred curriculum may consist of activities such as making a dress, constructing a box, building a miniature house, etc. The activities become the focus (rather than the fixed content), which are intended to achieve the pre-stipulated objectives.

Learner Centred Curriculum
In learner-centred curriculum, the learner occupies the central position in the teaching-learning exercise. Stress is given on the all-round development of the learner. Provision is made for the varying abilities and interests of learners. They have choices and options to fulfil their needs and interests. The learner-centred curriculum is based on the psychological foundations of education. Subject-matter and objectives are identified with the cooperation of or in collaboration with thelearner. Importance is given to the 'process' of acquiring knowledge or facts, rather than simple acquisition of knowledge. Attempt is made to orient selection of content and teaching-learning towards every individual child, based on his/her abilities, interest, aptitude and learning styles.

Integrated Curriculum
Integrated curriculum involves judicious mix of subject-centred, learner-centred and activity-centred curriculum. It enables the students to get a comprehensive view of the concepts to be learnt. For example, a course like "History of Civilization" may be an integrated curriculum representing history, literature, art, music, and sociology.
The traditional curriculum is too much formal, fragmented and isolated. As a result it fails to give a comprehensive view of life. It does not lead to unity of knowledge. Introduction of integrated curriculum overcomes such barriers.

Holistic Curriculum
The Holistic approach integrates all developmental areas in an environment that is carefully designed to encourage discovery and exploration. Classroom materials allow children to interact with the world familiar to them. A unifying project focus (theme) that is interesting to the children connects learning experiences across all developmental areas to form a developmental web. This integration of developmental areas results in children reaching higher levels of thinking. This approach carefully balances the opportunity for children to initiate play and learning activities and the responsibility of the teacher to optimize children's development by challenging and supporting their learning.

A more authentic curriculum emerges when all developmental areas are creatively integrated in a natural way rather than artificially inserting developmental activities for the sake of including each area. Project themes that are broad are the best guarantee for the holistic approach. Not every focus lends itself to all development areas, while others are well suited for certain development areas. For instance a focus built around the supermarket offers a natural springboard for mathematical activities. A focus built around the clothing we wear easily lends itself to activities involving language concepts. Language has a double function as both a learning tool and as a learning goal. Therefore, language activities must have an extra place in all project focuses based around a network of concepts

1.4 Role of Teacher in Curriculum planning

Without doubt, the most important person in the curriculum implementation process is the teacher. With their knowledge, experiences and competencies, teachers are central to any curriculum development effort. Better teachers support better learning because they are most knowledgeable about the practice of teaching and are responsible for introducing the curriculum in the classroom. If another party has already developed the curriculum, the teachers have to make an effort to know and understand it. So, teachers should be involved in curriculum development. For example, teacher’s opinions and ideas should be incorporated into the curriculum for development. On the other hand, the curriculum development team has to consider the teacher as part of the environment that affects curriculum. Hence, teacher involvement is important for successful and meaningful curriculum development. Teachers being the implementers are part of the last stage of the curriculum development process.

The teacher involved in curriculum organization has many roles and responsibilities. Teachers want to enjoy teaching and watching their students develop interests and skills in their interest area. The teacher may need to create lesson plans and syllabi within the framework of the given curriculum since the teacher's responsibilities are to implement the curriculum to meet student needs. Many studies support empowerment of teachers through participation of curriculum development. For example, Fullan (1991) found that the level of teacher involvement as a center of curriculum development leads to effective achievement of educational reform. Therefore, the teacher is an important factor in the success of curriculum development including the steps of implication and evaluation. Handler (2010) also found that there is a need for teacher involvement in the development of curriculum. Teachers can contribute by collaboratively and effectively working with curriculum development teams and specialists to arrange and compose martial, textbooks, and content. Teacher involvement in the process of curriculum development is important to align content of curriculum with students needs in the classroom.

The teacher associated with the curriculum association has numerous jobs and obligations. Educators need to appreciate educating and viewing their understudies creates interests and aptitudes to their greatest advantage territory. The instructor may need to make exercise plans and prospectuses inside the structure of the given curriculum since the instructor's obligations are to execute the educational plan to address understudy issues.


Teacher's inclusion as a focal point of educational plan improvement prompts the powerful accomplishment of instructive change. In this way, the instructor is a significant factor in the accomplishment of educational plan advancement including the means of suggestion and assessment.


A teacher can contribute by cooperatively and adequately working with curriculum development groups and authorities to arrange and design materials, course books, and content. Teacher association during the curriculum development is imperative to adjust the content of the curriculum based on student's needs in the classroom.


Lastly, No curriculum is perfect, or most suitable for students, or free from criticism, but to be effective it must be accepted by teachers and must be deemed educationally valid by parents and the community at large.


1.5 Curricular models – Home based, Center-based, Inter-disciplinary, Multi-disciplinary, Trans-disciplinary.

Initially early intervention programmes were home-based, mainly for the benefit of rural families as they were far from health facilities. The key persons in a home based programme are the home visitors. They need not be professionals. In fact, if they are SSC passed and receive intensive training in early intervention over a period of 10 weeks and have good supervision and guidance, then they do equally well. The home visitor is the active agent who takes the planned system of skills based sequentially, to the home and fulfills the role of a counselor and friend to both mother and child. The mother teaches the suggested activities based on the skills to her child and reports the progress to the home visitor at each visit. She in her turn, reports back to the supervisor regularly. In this way, the child’s progress can be constantly monitored and the skills adjusted as necessary.

Center based
Center based early intervention is usually carried out in a children’s hospital, a clinic or a center for children or a rehabilitation center for disabled children.

If such programmes are in hospitals they are part of OPD services and are conducted daily. They are usually attached to a Department of Neonatology/Pediatrics. In the latter case, they are offered daily on a full-time or part-time basis.

In center-based early intervention, the services of units like physiotherapy, occupational therapy speech therapy are also available and are provided as part of the programme. In addition, a Children’s Hospital has other units like Departments of Neurology Cardiology, ENT, Ophthalmology, etc., where center-based children can be referred for tests and consultation. For multiply disabled infants, a center-based programme becomes imperative. However, the effect of early intervention can only be gauged over a long-term and in our experience, mothers who are overburdened, or have other young children or who have to travel over long distances, usually are unable to continue unless there is family support. Unfortunately, very few hospitals are willing to undertake such programmes as they involve additional expenses. In center-based early intervention, the supervisor can be a pediatrician or a public health nurse, therapist or a special educator with knowledge in child development and experience in early intervention. Under her, she may have staff who are trained (equivalent to home visitors) and who give the planned system of skills sequentially to the mother individually. She works in the same way as a home visitor and guides the mother periodically in learning activities based on the skills.

Multi-disciplinary curriculum model


Multidisciplinary curriculum is studying a topic from the viewpoint of more than one discipline and solving a problem using a different disciplinary approach. For example, reducing the CO2 emissions from a car can be achieved by studying how to develop fuel chemistry or by studying how to improve car engine performance.

Latin multus (v.) “much, many” — looking at one problem by adding multiple perspectives and disciplines to the mix. In this process, a root discipline may involve other disciplines to solve a problem. Participants exchange knowledge and compare results, but stop short of integrating them. The disciplines maintain their distinctiveness and the results remain grounded in the framework of the root discipline. A multidisciplinary panel of business consultants, psychologists, lawyers and financial experts are common to resolve business conflicts.

Characteristics of an Effective Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum

·        Academic and Technical Rigor— Curriculum units are designed to address key learning standards identified by the district.

·        Authenticity—Units use a real world context (e.g., community and workplace problems) and address issues that matter to the students.

·        Applied Learning—Units engage students in solving problems that call for competencies expected in high-performance work organizations (e.g., teamwork, problem-solving, communication, etc.).

·        Active Exploration—Units extend beyond the classroom by connecting to internships, field based investigations, and community explorations.

·        Adult Connections—Units connect students with adult mentors and coaches from the community’s industry and postsecondary partners.

·        Assessment Practices—Units involve students in regular performance-based exhibitions and assessments of their work; evaluation criteria reflect personal, school, and real-world standards of performance.


Trans-disciplinary curriculum model


Trans-disciplinary curriculum is removing the boundaries between the core disciplines, integrating them to construct new context of real-world themes and introducing a sub-major stream course. For example in the last century, mechanical engineering curriculum has been integrated with the electronics and computer engineering curriculum to introduce the mechatronics engineering curriculum, which is called now robotics.

Latin trans (prep.) “across, over, beyond” — emergence of a new discipline transcending the boundaries of disciplinary perspective. Trans-disciplinarity combines inter-disciplinarity with a participatory approach. The research paradigms involve non-academic participants as (equal) participants in the process to reach a common goal — usually a solution to a problem of society at large. It can be considered as the culmination of interdisciplinary efforts. Trans-disciplinary also has a wholism associated with it. While interdisciplinary collaborations create new knowledge synthesised from existing disciplines, a trans-disciplinary team relates all disciplines into a coherent whole . The field of ‘sustainability’ in essence is a trans-disciplinary one.