Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Curriculum, Theories of
William G. Wraga
In American education, the term curriculum theory has held different meanings for different curriculum theorists at different times. Typically, curriculum theories are sets of ideas that attempt to answer the curriculum question, “What knowledge is of most worth?”—or, more broadly, to inform the conception and realization of educational purposes. Curriculum theories differ, however, in terms of exactly how they are intended to inform the conception and realization of educational purposes. In the present discussion, curriculum theories are categorized into three broad approaches: philosophical-prescriptive, professionalinstrumental, and exegetic-academic. Philosophicalprescriptive approaches to curriculum theory attempt to inform decisions about what knowledge is of most worth by prescribing educational purposes. Professional-instrumental approaches to curriculum theory, rather than prescribing educational purposes, propose methods for making decisions about educational purposes and other aspects of educational programs. Exegetic-academic approaches to curriculum theory focus on analyzing and understanding educational phenomena and tend to eschew the application of Philosophical-prescriptive ...