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2.2 CONTENT

Curriculum content is the subject matter of the teaching learning process and as such, includes the knowledge, skills and values associated with the subject. Often the outcome of a ‘content first’ approach is a list of topics to be covered, content is equated with knowledge.

The content of the curriculum:

  • is divided into bodies of knowledge mathematics, English and science;
  • outlines the desired attitudes and values;
  • includes cherished skills;
  • Is determined by prevailing theories of knowledge; and caters to ideological, vocational and technical considerations

Content is more than just knowledge. Content selection needs to give appropriate balance to subject knowledge, process skills and the development of the student as learner as well as to detail and context. It is more constructive to consider content in the context of assessment and learning outcomes.

The key questions then are:

  • Whatknowledge(concepts, ideas. interpretationsapplications) must/should/could be included to enablestudents to achieve the intended learning outcomes?
  • What generic process knowledge and skills should th student have been taught by the end of the topic?
  • What context in the discipline do the students need to hav by the end of the topic?
  • What is the appropriate balance of content: depth/breast knowledge/skills and processes/values?

Each area of content should also be considered in terms of a number of criteria:

Significance: validity how essential or basic is it to the discipline?
Relevance: is the content accurate, current and relevant to the aims and intended learning outcomes?
Utility: what is the discipline/workplace/societal value of this content? How useful will the content be to students beyond the confines of the topic or course? Will it benefit them in ‘real life’ and/or professional practice?
Interest: will this content interest the students?
Learnability: Will the students be able to learn the content (in the time available)?

The ast criteria points to a further issue: the curriculum in any topic is bounded and finite. Not everything can be included so choices and exclusions have to be made. Compressing content is generally not a successful strategy.

Once content has been selected it needs to be organized in relation to two main principles: scope and sequence. Time is a major factor in determining the scope of content and the balance between breadth and depth.

Integration is also a factor in relation to scope: students generally learn more when they are able to connect new content to prior knowledge and to seek and find real world applications for what they are learning.

In the development of the contents of the program the following general principles could be followed. Thus the contents of the curriculum should;

  • Focus on the present and future problems of the learners andthe society.
  • Pose problems or describe potential problems and provide relevant information.
  • Be presented in the context of living situations/realities.
  • Be selected and organized so as to reflect learner particination and assist in solving community problems.
  • Be focused on the individual and community contexts because these
  • Issues are often neglected in school tradition whichemphasize mainly technical and literacy skills.

It should be noted that the curriculum content must be applicable to the solution of the problems affecting the society which uses it.

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