Thursday, 15 January 2009

What actually is....

.... a curriculum?? We structured home educators bandy the word around and after a recent post of Luke's I got to thinking what actually is a curriculum? Is it the whole package meaning the plan and all the resources or is it just the plan alone? I did a bit of web searching and found a guy wrote a book in 1918 called The Curriculum. Maybe we all need to get a copy :o)

The word curriculum has its roots in the Latin for race course. This guy described the race course as the deeds and experiences whereby children learn to be members of an adult society, or some such thing. It seems to back up home education nicely I thought. The deeds and experiences of my own children do not need to follow a state school system to be part of adult society. In fact with their learning difficulties/challenges that definitely doesn't work for us. For some children it works and for others it doesn't.

But not so much info on what a curriculum actually includes. I had always really believed that the curriculum was the plan and schedule, and not the resources needed to carry out the plan. With Sonlight its a bonus because you get the plan/schedule and all the resources in one [or two] boxes, ready to go. Same with some others - Winter Promise, FIAR and so on. Then you come to classical education, like Well Trained Mind and Ambleside Online and there's no actual resources included. Does that make the second any less of a curriculum or does it mean that no-ones cashed in and packaged a curriculum? Not that I believe the first have cashed in by the way, I think they've offered something needed by Home Educators and offer good products.

I can't really decide if the plan/schedule alone classes as a curriculum because you have to get the resources in order to implement them. What I do know is there is a severe lack of curricula which include resources for UK home educators. We constantly turn to the US for both curricula and resources. Maybe there's an opening for someone?

As for me - well I have my 'in a box' Sonlight for Issy, it works and it's easy, saves time and she's learning. For Hettie I've 'made' a curriculum and resourced it from a variety of sources and that works for her. They're both learning.

Not much learning this week actually, as the baby guinea pigs have taken up a lot of time - 5 guineas eat far more than 2, and they're just so sweet! Issy had to have an anaesthetic and have 4 teeth extracted, which was another day gone and its been mad.

So we will try to get some sort of 'curriculum' met tomorrow and Saturday I'm off to an educational exhibition in London with my SIL. Theory being we can look before we buy - Ok maybe just an excuse for a day out with no kids, a nice lunch, and a credit card :o)


Serendipity said...

I really liked this post and you are right, what is curriculum anyway?
I guess for me its that little bit of structure, of planning and of an idea of what I want them to learn.
I think a curriculum is a pre-planned notion of where we want to go and who we want to achieve it.

Thanks for writing it.
Hope you have a fab day at the educational fair.

Shirl said...

Very interesting post Lisa.

Luke said...


Good thoughts [smile]. When I wrote on this topic I was perplexed--and rather surprised--that I couldn't just define "curriculum" simply.

I guess that shouldn't be that surprising, since we have different needs and different approaches. So, when I wrote my post, I was surprised at my surprise [smile].

May you continue to find the perfect fit for you and your daughters, be it online, "homegrown", or with Sonlight.


Bridget said...

I agree, we don't follow any cirric as such, probably a bit of everything, is that a cirric in itself?
Enjoy Saturday. Sounds dangerous to me, no kids and credit card!!

Lisa said...

Thanks everyone for comments - Saturday weather is meant to be horrendou, so no doubt we'll be wet by the time we arrive!

Luke, definately sticking with SL at moment now we have got the core right :0)

Mrs. Darling said...

Ive never questioned what curriculum means. I guess I need to hob nob with deep thinkers like you more often! LOL
I just thought of curriculum as meaning the entire set of books one uses from a cerain publisher. Theres Oak Meadow, Abeka, Bob Jones, Christian Liberty Press, Houghton Mifflin etc. Anything outside of a curriculum is library books and stuff you get on the internet etc. See I told you I had never given deep thought to it!