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Article

James A. Beane

An integrative curriculum is intended to help young people organize and integrate their present experiences so that they might be carried forward for the benefit of both self and the common good. As such, this kind of curriculum has historically been proposed as a preferred design for a general education intended for all students, particularly in programs meant to promote democratic living and learning. An integrative curriculum involves arrangements and methods that engage students in identifying self and social issues, critiquing the status of society and the common good, planning for new learning experiences, accessing resources, researching and solving problems, communicating ideas, collaborating with others, and reflecting on the meaning and value of experiences. Crucial to the use of the term “integrative” is the idea that individuals do their own integrating. This definition distinguishes an integrative curriculum from “integrated” curriculum organizations, such as “multidisciplinary” or “interdisciplinary,” in which teachers and others correlate content and skills from two or more subject areas with the intention of illustrating connections among them or making their content more accessible and engaging for students. Use of an integrative approach has a long history tied to progressive and democratic arrangements in elementary and secondary schools. These include CORE Programs, the experience-centered approach to curriculum, and many problem-centered courses. At present, some integrated approaches are enjoying popularity, as are methods like project- and problem-centered activities that are historically associated with integrative approaches. However, the student-centered, democratic philosophy that partly defines an integrative curriculum approach has waned under pressure from bureaucratic subject-based standards, tests, and prescriptive curriculum plans.

Article

Gabriel Huddleston and Robert Helfenbein

Curriculum theory is shaped and held within the larger field of curriculum studies, but its distinctive focus on understanding curriculum as opposed to developing it places it is stark contrast with other parts of the larger field. This focus is further distinctive when curriculum theory shifts to curriculum theorizing. Curriculum theorizing emerged in the United States, principally at Bergamo conferences and precursor conferences, in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), and through scholars associated with the reconceptualization. It has spread internationally via the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and its subsidiaries in many different countries and cultures. Some scholars hold that curriculum theory includes curriculum theorizing as well as normative and analytic conceptualizations that justify or explain curriculum decisions and actions. Curriculum theorizing attempts to read broadly in social theory so as to embody those insights in dealing with issues of curriculum, and can take philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or cultural studies approaches to analyses, interpretations, criticisms, and improvements. This approach has built upon what has become known as the reconceptualization, which began in the late 1970s and continues into the early 21st century. Increasingly, the field has taken up analysis of contemporary education policy and sociopolitical contexts as an outgrowth of its work. Issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability, and the ways in which their intersectionality impact the lived experience of schools, continue to motivate and direct the field of curriculum studies. In so doing, criticism, analysis, interpretation, and expansion of such issues have moved the focus of curriculum theorizing to include any aspects of social and psychological life that educate or shape the ways human beings reflect upon or interact with the world.

Article

Various curriculum theorists and commentators have identified curriculum/instruction and the learning environment/milieu as two of the major codeterminants of students’ educational outcomes. Although learning environment is a somewhat subtle concept, considerable progress has been made over the past few decades in conceptualizing and assessing it and investigating its determinants and consequences. The learning environment is important in the curriculum field because a positive classroom environment is both a worthwhile end in its own right and a means to improved student outcomes. The field of learning environments has a rich diversity of valid and economical questionnaires that have been adapted and used in many countries. The world’s most-frequently used classroom climate questionnaire is the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) which assesses students’ perceptions of student cohesiveness, teacher support, involvement, investigation, task orientation, cooperation and equity. Other specific-purpose instruments include the Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI), Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES) and Place-Based Learning and Constructivist Environment Survey (PLACES) for evaluating the unique learning environments of community-based and place-based environmental education programs. A major application of learning environment assessments is their use as criteria of effectiveness in evaluating educational programs/curricula and instructional methods/alternatives. These studies reveal that traditional curricula could be distinguished from new curricula in terms of students’ classroom environment perceptions when outcome measures cannot. Although much research has been undertaken on educational environments, less effort has been focused on helping teachers to improve the climates of their schools and classrooms. A simple approach for improving environments based on using climate surveys involves identifying and reducing discrepancies between students’ actual and preferred perceptions. Teachers who have administered these questionnaires as part of their action research typically have found that assessments of their students’ perceptions of classroom environment provide useful bases for reflection, discussion and classroom improvement.

Article

Curriculum studies has paid attention to its history through writings, conference presentations, and the development of professional and personal relationships in the field over the course of many decades. As contemporary scholarship and educational practices take shape, they are built on ideas and practices of the past, of course. One commitment of scholar-practitioners engaged in curriculum studies is to work across the field to understand the nature of movements in thought and practice as they manifest in the field’s literature and have an impact (or not) on educational entities where teaching and learning take place. The author offers a description of an ongoing curriculum project with doctoral students that has historical implications for the curriculum field and represents an example of this ongoing, complicated conversation in the field of curriculum studies. Students work with the author during a course on curriculum theory to create research essays examining books from the curriculum field, ultimately producing volumes of their work for current consumption by scholars. Their article treatments of past, historic curriculum books and the entire project are meant to challenge and reclaim the foundational ideas imbedded in the field of curriculum studies. The author discusses the nature of the work at hand, historical implications of the current work, and the potential the project poses for future work.

Article

The application of curriculum theory and models of curriculum development to museum education helps inform the analysis of the representational, communicative, epistemological, and cognitive dimensions of the formal, informal, and nonformal learning that takes place in the museum setting. Museums and other in/nonformal learning environments implicitly and explicitly engage questions of worth inherent to curriculum inquiry. Within the Curriculum Studies field, such questions reflect both an historical and a contemporary concern with issues of diversity, accessibility, social justice, civic value, and human rights in school and non-school curriculum contexts. In addition to other curriculum analysis frameworks, international instances of museum education curricula can be understood through the lenses of three “human interests”: the technical, the practical, and the emancipatory. A preference for designing educational materials and experiences around predetermined objectives reflects a technical interest in museum curricula. Within this technical approach, which can also be conceptualized as curriculum as product, the success or failure of a curriculum depends on the degree to which the intended objectives are achieved. Curriculum as practice reflects a practical interest in the way understanding and knowledge are created (rather than simply transmitted) through the dynamic social interactions between teacher and learner. A curriculum as practice orientation aligns with constructivist views on museum learning. Representing an emancipatory interest in human liberation and the overcoming of oppressive social structures is the curriculum as praxis orientation. This approach to museum curricula often assumes a social justice goal of community empowerment that seeks to translate understanding or consciousness-raising into action.

Article

Nancy Lesko, Jacqueline Simmons, and Jamie Uva

Adolescence has been defined as a unique stage of development, and youth are marked and understood by their differences from adults and children. This perceived border between youth and adults also influences curriculum development, since knowledge for youth is often determined by their current developmental stage and/or what they need to know and be able to do when they are adults. Thus, curricular knowledge often participates in keeping youth “less than” adults. When we start with a conception of youth that emphasizes their competence or power, curricular options open. If we recognize that youth can take on political organizing or use social media in more sophisticated ways than adults, schools’ tight management of youth appears overzealous and miseducative. To rethink conceptions of youth, educators must confront the power differentials built into and maintained by school curricular knowledge.

Article

Daniel J. Castner, Jennifer L. Schneider, and James G. Henderson

Curriculum wisdom was developed by curriculum theorists in the United States and has roots tracing back to Ancient Greek wisdom traditions as well as the European Enlightenment. Curriculum wisdom envisions educators as lead professionals for democratic ways of living. As such, it is a pedagogically grounded approach to curriculum development and leadership and is an aspirational, ethical vision for empowering contemporary educators. To support this vision, the essay introduces two interdependent scaffoldings. Curriculum workers engage in 3Ds—deliberation, discipline, and democracy—for the purposes of developing holistic 3Ss—subject, self, and social—understandings. Rounding out the essay is a discussion of a fourfold problem-solving process for democratic curriculum development and leadership.

Article

Robert Helfenbein and Gabriel Huddleston

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, spatial terms have emerged and proliferated in academic circles, finding application in several disciplines extending beyond formal geography. Critical geography, a theoretical addition to the home discipline of geography as opposed to being a new discipline in itself, has seen application in many other disciplines, mostly represented by what is collectively called social theory (i.e., sociology, cultural studies, political science, and literature). The application of critical spatial theory to educational theory in general, and curriculum theorizing in particular, points to new trajectories for both critical geographers and curriculum theorists. The growth of these two formations have coincided with the changes in the curriculum studies field, especially as it relates to the Reconceptualization of that field during the 1970s. In terms of critical spatial theory especially, the exploration of how we conceptualize place and space differently has allowed curriculum studies scholars to think more expansively about education, schools, pedagogy, and curriculum. More specifically, it has allowed a more fluid understanding of how curriculum is formed and shaped over time by framing the spatial as something beyond a “taken-for-granted” fact of our lives. The combination of spatial theory and curriculum studies has produced a myriad of explorations to see how oppression works in everyday spaces. The hope inherent in this work is that if we can understand how space is (re)produced with inherent inequities, we can produce spaces, especially educative ones, that are more just and equitable.

Article

Fikile Nxumalo, Lisa-Marie Gagliardi, and Hye Ryung Won

Inquiry-based curriculum is a responsive approach to education in which young children are viewed as capable protagonists of their learning. Inquiry-based curriculum has the potential to challenge the dominance of developmental psychology as the primary way of understanding young children’s learning. This approach to curriculum-making also disrupts the instrumentalist “technician” image of the early childhood educator. Practices of inquiry-based curriculum can also extend beyond the early childhood classroom as a potentially transformative teacher education tool, and as a research methodology that counters dominant deficit discourses of childhood. Inquiry-based curriculum in North American early childhood education has been greatly influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach, which is a powerful alternative to predetermined theme-based didactic curriculum. The revolutionary possibilities of inquiry-based curriculum, inspired by Reggio Emilia, are not standardized frameworks to be copied in practice; rather, they create critical entry points into contextual, creative, rigorous, meaningful, and justice-oriented curriculum. One of these entry points is the practice of pedagogical documentation, which not only makes children’s learning visible but also enables educators’ and researchers’ critical reflection. Such reflections can act to foreground the complex, political, and dialogical thinking, doing, and exchanging that happens in inquiry-based early childhood education classrooms. Reggio Emilia–inspired inquiry-based curriculum has brought attention to the important role of the arts in young children’s inquiries. Important research in this area includes work that has put new materialist perspectives to work to gain insight into new pedagogical and curricular possibilities that are made possible by attuning to children’s relations with materials, where materials are active participants in learning. While more research is needed in this area, recent research has also engaged with how attention to the arts and materials does not preclude attending to and responding to issues of race and racialization. In U.S. early learning contexts, an important area of research in inquiry-based curriculum has demonstrated that this approach, alongside a pedagogy of listening, is central to shifting deficit-based practices with historically marginalized children. This is important work as access to dynamic inquiry-based curriculum remains inaccessible to many young children of color, particularly within increasing policy pressures to prepare children for standardized testing. Finally, there is a growing body of work that is investigating possibilities for inquiry-based curriculum that is responsive to the inequitably distributed environmental precarities that young children are inheriting. This work is an important direction for research in inquiry-based curriculum as it proposes a radical shift from individualist and humanist modes of understanding childhood and childhood learning.

Article

Three key movements in the evolution of school science curriculum in the 20th century illustrate the complexity and difficulties of curriculum reform. Through social changes such as world wars, rising societal concerns about the environment, and the globalization of economies, the location for aspirations of national security, environmental responsibility, and, more recently, economic prosperity have come to focus on reformation of school science curricula. This hope springs from the hegemony of positivism. Each wave of reform, from the “alphabet science” programs as a response to the launching of Sputnik to the STEM-based programs in the 21st century, sheds light on the change process: the importance of involving teachers in curriculum change topics, the influence of societal factors, how feedback loops prevent change, how ethos and intentions are not enough for a successful change attempt, how a clever acronym can assist change, and the role of public truths in delimiting the extent of curriculum reform. These lessons on changing the curriculum illustrate how efforts to employ a school subject, in this case science, for social salvation is at best unpredictable and difficult but more usually unsuccessful.

Article

Ganiva Reyes, Racheal Banda, and Brian D. Schultz

Throughout the history of the United States there has been a long trajectory of dialogue within the field of education around curriculum and pedagogy. Scholars have centered questions such as: What is curriculum? What knowledge should count as curriculum? Who gets to decide? Who does not? And, in turn, what is the pedagogical process of organizing knowledge, subject matter, and skills into curriculum? While many scholars have worked on various approaches to curriculum, the work of Black intellectual scholar Anna Julia Cooper serves as an important point of departure that highlights how curriculum and pedagogy have long been immersed in broader sociopolitical issues such as citizenship, democracy, culture, race, and gender. Starting from the late 19th century, Cooper took up curricular and pedagogical questions such as: What is the purpose of education? What is the role of the educator? And what is the purpose of being student-centered? These are important questions that pull together various traditions and fields of work in education that offer different approaches to curriculum. For instance, the question of whether it’s best to center classical subjects versus striving for efficiency in the development of curriculum has been a debated issue. Across such historical debates, the work of mainstream education scholars such as John Dewey, Ralph Tyler, and Hilda Taba have long been recognized; however, voices from scholars of color, such as Cooper, have been left out or overlooked. Thus, the contributions of Black intellectual scholars such as Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, and other critical scholars of color are brought to the forefront to provide deeper knowledge about the development of curriculum and pedagogy. The work of marginalized scholars is also connected with reconceptualist efforts in curriculum studies to consider current conceptual framings of schooling, curriculum, and pedagogy. Finally, critical theories of curriculum and pedagogy are further unpacked through research conducted with and alongside communities of color. This scholarship includes culturally responsive pedagogy, funds of knowledge, hip-hop pedagogy, reality pedagogy, critically compassionate intellectualism, barrio pedagogy, youth participatory action research (YPAR), and feminist of color pedagogies.

Article

Social studies, theoretically, examines the social dynamics of different groups of people within a particular society. The subject, as defined in the US education system, incorporates different disciplines, such as history, sociology, geography, and political science. The objective of social studies is the development of students as active participants in civic society. Since 2001, however, decreased learning time for social studies in elementary school grade levels and narrow interpretations of historical events in secondary school classes due to standardization efforts have threatened the viability of social studies in US schools. A critical social studies interpretation can redirect the current path of the subject. The concept of critical social studies scrutinizes three facets of the subject: curriculum, citizenship, and teaching. Critical teachers, curriculum writers, and students utilize self-reflection, critical theories, and active engagement in critiquing dominant concepts of citizenship. The open exchange of ideas with different individuals challenge standard explanations of citizenship in the United States. Critical educators use community development, student-centered dialogue, and transdisciplinary methods in expanding the learning of social studies. Critical social studies seeks to bring social studies back to its intellectual origins while pushing it into new peripheries.

Article

Mary Aswell Doll

Mythopoetics is a way of reading ideas for their connection to the basic stories known as myths, as well as to poets, writers, and educators concerned with self and culture. The mythopoetic method seeks understanding from the metaphors which myths and literature present. Ideas contain images, which offer insight into the language of the depth dimension. Psychology, whose root word is “psyche” (not “brain”), studies the expressions of the unconscious self in all its forms and deviations; and curriculum urges study of the various educational disciplines for understanding how they shape individual histories and identities. Psychology, education, and curriculum share Latin roots meaning “soul,” “leading out,” and “running within,” respectively. The confluence of these areas suggest that the real subject of education is the student’s subjectivity. The project of being human is understanding the self’s connection with the energy exchanges brought about through basic opposites, such as human–other, human–society, and human–environment relations. Two key ideas about which curriculum scholars theorize are the impact of place (and displacement) on individuals, first, and how alterity is envisioned both by self and from others (second). Writers, poets, and dramatists share curriculum’s concern with subjectivity formation by offering insight into the impact of place and alterity on the development (or repression) of consciousness. By discussing these two concepts through the lens of mythopoetics, there are many avenues for viewing the self, how it can be “led out,” what histories and social codes have influenced identity formation, and ways to access the hidden self by regressing into memory depths. The power of poetics is that it releases people from the stranglehold of their normalcy, bigotry, and hardheadedness. Curriculum scholars often write on the American South and its vexed race relations, for instance, as a necessary place to examine motive and repressions, whereas depth psychologists consider the South as the direction of the depth dimension, where one’s own Other, the alterity that needs access, resides. A mythopoetics of curriculum, then, uses literature as a means of analysis and synthesis in the formation of the self.

Article

John Rury and Susan Twombly

The American collegiate curriculum has undergone significant change in the past two centuries. From its beginning through much of the 19th century a classical curricular approach prevailed, focusing on ancient languages and the liberal arts, while favoring recitation and debate as instructional modalities. The rise of “land-grant” institutions with a focus on practical instruction in agriculture, engineering, and military sciences in the later 19th century was a harbinger of change. It was followed by the rise of research institutions and comprehensive universities that further emphasized the importance of practical and professional education. The adoption of an elective approach to course-taking and the development of college majors led to debates about core curricula and the need for general education. Following publication of the famous Harvard Red Book in 1948, a broad consensus regarding the need for a liberal arts core emerged in the postwar era and has broadly persisted. Since the 1980s, new debates have emerged about the content of the core and curricular innovations intended to augment student learning. Older content representing a “canon” of received knowledge or wisdom has been challenged by proponents of non-Western, feminist, or oppressed minority perspectives, not always successfully. New instructional modalities, including online and “flipped” courses, have also impacted longstanding curricular practices. New models for assessing and planning collegiate curricula also have emerged. But if a particular theme has predominated in such changes, it is that student and societal demands for more practical and marketable learning outcomes have continued to exert an outsized influence on the ever evolving American collegiate curriculum.

Article

Lisa Farley and Debbie Sonu

Childhood studies is an interdisciplinary area of theory and research comprised of intersecting fields that have evolved since the inception of childhood itself. Despite the pervasiveness of psychological frameworks that predominate early studies of childhood and that continue to dominate within teacher education programs, paradigmatic shifts within childhood studies have opened critical questions about the exclusive social norms, racial privileges, and unequal life chances maintained by the idea of childhood as a biologically determined and universal stage of life. Across a range of perspectives, critical scholarship in childhood studies begins with the idea that childhood is a social and historical construction tied to colonial discourses and ongoing injustices that have material effects on children’s lives. Drawing on the fields of history, sociology, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and educational theory, scholars of childhood show how childhood is inextricably bound to philosophical ideals, political forces, social constructs, and emotional conflicts. In identifying and interrogating the ways that race, class, ability, gender, and sexuality affect and limit meanings of childhood, scholars open new metaphors for rethinking social life, development, belonging, relationality, and existence as such.

Article

As its name suggests, sonic ethnography sits at the intersection of studies of sound and ethnographic methodologies. This methodological category can be applied to interpretive studies of sound, ethnographic studies that foreground sound theoretically and metaphorically, and studies that utilize sound practices similar to those found in forms of audio recording and sound art, for example. Just as using ocular metaphors or video practices does not make an ethnographic study any more truthful, the use of sonic metaphors or audio recording practices still requires the painstaking, ethical, reflexivity, time, thought, analysis, and care that are hallmarks for strong ethnographies across academic fields and disciplines. Similarly, the purpose of sonic ethnography is not to suggest that sound is any more real or important than other sensuous understandings but is instead to underscore the power and potential of the sonic for qualitative researchers within and outside of education. A move to the sonic is theoretically, methodologically, and practically significant for a variety of reasons, not least of which are (a) its ability to interrupt ocular pathways for conceptualizing and conducting qualitative research; (b) for providing a mode for more actively listening to local educational ecologies and the wide variety of things, processes, and understandings of which they are comprised; (c) ethical and more transparent means for expressing findings; and (d) a complex and deep tool for gathering, analyzing, and expressing ethnographic information. In sum, sonic ethnography opens a world of sound possibilities for educational researchers that at once deepen and provide alternate pathways for understanding everyday educational interactions and the sociocultural contexts that help render those ways of being, doing, and knowing sensible.

Article

Geography is a school subject in some countries, for example, the United Kingdom, and an academic discipline that has strong relevance with environmental education, both as a field of study and a cross-curricular theme in the school curriculum. This article reviews the geographical and environmental education with reference to the key literature dated back to the 1990s. Since then, geography can be offered either as a secondary school subject or a field of study or as being part of a social studies curriculum. Different countries pay varying attention to geographical and environmental education because of its historical and sociocultural contexts. The United States, for example, has published national geography standards, whereas England and Australia have incorporated geographical inquiry into educational guidelines. At an international level, the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education has exerted profound influence on the development of geographical education worldwide. For environmental education, its emphasis has gradually shifted to education for sustainable development under the backdrop of echoing UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals. It is noteworthy that geographical and environmental education has advanced its research and advocacy through different educational research paradigms, approaches, and environmental ideologies. Some emerging topics are discerned. One of them, linking with the concept of people–environment interactions in geographical and environmental education, is the topic of place. Another topic is environmental learning and significance of life experiences for learners. In addition, how geographical and environmental education links up with and contributes to citizenship education and global understanding under a globalized and transnational world becomes an increasingly important agenda. Moreover, the impact of technology, for example, the employment of the Geographical Information System as well as information and communication technology, has provided new insights to and extended the horizons of geographical and environmental education. Future educational development in such direction needs cross-disciplinary contribution and cross-sector collaboration.

Article

Paul M. Wright, Barrie Gordon, and Shirley Gray

Physical education as a subject area simultaneously addresses psychomotor, cognitive, and affective learning objectives. Despite the recognized potential of physical education to promote affective learning objectives, these have been ill-defined in the curriculum and often neglected in practice. However, with a growing interest in social and emotional learning across the curriculum, physical education is now expected to better articulate and demonstrate its contributions in this area. While the framework may be new, social and emotional learning competencies (e.g., self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making) can be seamlessly integrated into quality, student-centered physical education. Given the growing policy support and existing best practice for teaching personal and social skills, it seems clear that with continued advocacy and teacher education, social and emotional learning competencies can be integrated into the physical education curriculum in a much more intentional and coherent way.

Article

The field of curriculum studies has long been tormented by a disputatious literature over theory and practice and the proper way to pursue curriculum inquiry. Roughly in the middle of the last century standard practical pursuits came into question with a dizzying array of postmodern critiques. Countering both the practical pursuits under criticism and the postmodern reconceptualist critical literature, Joseph J. Schwab advanced a theory of The Practical. Schwab’s writing remains relevant, and theoretical debates on curriculum inquiry regularly reference Schwab. These debates are driven by fundamentally different philosophical views on theory and practice and their place in curriculum studies. Although the reconceptualist literature has become theoretical orthodoxy in the field of curriculum studies, the debate is kept alive by writers who draw on Schwab’s theory of The Practical. However, little progress in mutual understanding has resulted because debate is focused on theoretical parameters, assertions, and positions at the expense of the practice of inquiry. We believe that turning attention to what people do in curriculum inquiry rather than pursuing theoretic prescriptions of how people should think in curriculum studies would help move the field forward. Our “Practical” Schwab-based work in personal practical knowledge and in narrative inquiry over the years, culminating in our current large-scale, seven-year-long longitudinal comparative education study, Reciprocal Learning Partnership Research between Canada and China, is illustrative. Using a commonplaces of inquiry framework developed by Schwab, we detail practical research qualities of The Practical and of the Reciprocal Learning Partnership Project. We discuss the situational starting and end points of curriculum inquiry in the Reciprocal Learning Partnership with special reference to the moral quality of practical situations studied. We further describe the nature of qualified knowledge outcomes in inquiry, qualities of the researcher agent, method and its relationship to a flexible, shifting database, and the understanding that inquiry and situations studied are the outcomes of narrative histories. This Schwab-based comparative education work begins with a moral position on a practical international situation and builds cross-cultural reciprocal learning strategies and outcomes using diverse theoretical positions and methodologies. In so doing Schwab’s “The Practical” is demonstrated by a new model of comparative curriculum studies. There is much to criticize in this work but there is also, we believe, much in which to take pride. Canadian and Chinese educators and their practices are enhanced through reciprocal learning. Improving practice has its own theoretical, and personal, rewards apart from the security achieved by theoretical consistency pursued by The Theoretic. Our hope is that something new in the contentious arena of curriculum studies may emerge if deliberation revolved around competing curriculum inquiry practices rather than around competing theoretical ideas on the nature of curriculum inquiry. Should this hope be unrealized, we nevertheless believe that Reciprocal Learning as an exemplar of The Practical provides useful direction for comparative curriculum studies.

Article

Tahraoui Ramdane and Souad Merah

Conceptually, the notions of Islamic education, Islamic curriculum, and the nature of the Islamic faith are inseparable. Islamic curriculum in particular is based on what the Islamic world views as coherent and fixed divine verities, values, and criteria. This complex intertwines with mutable human experiences, mediums of learning, and skills. A Muslim teacher is one who integrates all this and delivers it to learners in order for them to attain the degree of perfection with which Allah is affiliated. In this manner, the Islamic curriculum transcends the limitation of space outlining the pure religious knowledge to embody every useful knowledge. These principles can be considered in their strictly puritan and ideal Islamic terms but may also be expressed in terms of more realistic historical application. There are three main periods of Islamic curriculum: the stage of formation and standardization coeval with Prophet Muhammad’s message and his first four successors (609 ce–661 ce); the stage of diversity in the post-Classical era (661 ce–1450ce), which can be divided into pre-madrasa and madrasa eras; and the stage of regression and reform, which stretches from the 10th century ah (1495ce–1591ce) to the present day. With regard to the latter, a number of historical, cultural, social, and political developments in the Muslim world have contributed to the decline of the Islamic model of learning. By the end of the 19th century efforts were being made to revive and reform the Islamic curriculum. However, this model continues to be plagued by various challenging issues, such as the dualism of curriculum in many parts of the Muslim world, as well as the rigidity, passivity, social alienation, and irrelevancy of present variations of the Islamic curriculum.