Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum

Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum

Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum

Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum


Key Concepts for Understanding Curriculum is an invaluable guide for all involved in curriculum matters. Originally published in 1992, and then re-released as two volumes, the third edition returns to a single volume and includes 21 key topics in the field. The topics comprise the latest trends and issues, written in Marsh's clear and accessible style, and are an important source of material for an international readership at every level. The book is divided into six sections, including: * Curriculum planning and development * Curriculum management * Teaching perspectives * Collaborative involvement in curriculum * Curriculum ideology In this third edition many of the latest curriculum trends and issues are included such as standards-based frameworks, using technology in teaching and learning modes, standards based reforms and politics of decision-making. This up-to-date edition will be essential reading for anyone involved in curriculum planning or development and will be especially useful to students training to be teachers and practising teachers following professional development programmes.


We make sense of our world and go about our daily lives by engaging in concept building. We acquire and develop concepts so that we can gain meaning about persons and events and in turn communicate these meaning to others.

Some concepts are clearly of more importance than others. The key concepts provide us with the power to explore a variety of situations and events and to make significant connections. Other concepts may be meaningful in more limited situations but play a part in connecting unrelated facts.

Every field of study contains a number of key concepts and lesser concepts which relate to substantive and methodological issues unique to that discipline/ field of study. Not unexpectedly, scholars differ over their respective lists of key concepts, but there is, nevertheless, considerable agreement. With regard to the curriculum field there is a moderate degree of agreement over key concepts.

To be able to provide any commentary on key concepts in curriculum assumes of course that we have access to sources of information that enable us to make definitive statements.

A wide range of personnel are involved in making curriculum including school personnel, researchers, academics, administrators, politicians, and various interest groups. They go about their tasks in various ways such as via planning meetings, informal discussions, writing reports, papers, handbooks, textbooks, giving talks, lectures, workshops, etc.

To ensure that a list of key concepts is comprehensive and representative of all these sources would be an extremely daunting task. A proxy often used by researchers is to examine textbooks, especially synoptic textbooks (those books which provide comprehensive accounts and summaries of a wide range of concepts, topics and issues in curriculum).

Schubert (1980) and Schubert et al (2002) undertook a detailed analysis of textbooks over the period 1861-2000 and this volume provides a valuable overview of curriculum thought over major historical periods. Marsh and Stafford (1988) provided a similar historical analysis of major curriculum books written by Australian authors over the period 1910-88.

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