Theories of Curriculum: Comparison and Contrast

Subject: Education
Pages: 5
Words: 1455
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD


Theories of curriculum explain the history of education systems and the current positions of curricula (Pinar, 2004). The views are presented by various individuals showing variations of thoughts. Micheal Schiro and Herbert Kliebard are among the people who have participated considerably in raising the curriculum theories (Schiro, 2008; Kliebard, 2002). Kliebard uses a historical perspective when evaluating the education systems between the years 1893 and 1958 (Kliebard, 2002). The philosophies presented by Schiro (2008) take a close review from the year 1890 to two thousand and seven. The two theoretical perspectives published by these researchers have different reasoning. However, Pinar (2004) describes that the sources of research data were the American curriculums. This implies that it is necessary to review the outcomes and determine the most workable theory in the present curriculum. Moreover, we will evaluate which differences existed between various theories by comparing and contrasting them. Consequently, this essay will compare and contrast the theories of curriculum to identify the most effective ones.

In only 3 hours we’ll deliver a custom Theories of Curriculum: Comparison and Contrast essay written 100% from scratch Get help

The Historical Perspective

Kliebard (2002) evaluated the curriculum through 4 groups. The first group referred to as mental disciplinarians argue that all learners have the potential to acquire reasoning. In addition, it describes that education has a role in systematically developing perception and understanding. Secondly, the group of social efficiency describes how the curriculum can be used to supply skilled individuals for the sake of the economy (Kliebard, 2002). This implies that the education systems equip people with the knowledge and skills to work properly. Consequently, the curriculum provides substantial skills for working. These skills raise the status of the economy eventually. Child study is the third group that pays attention to learners’ psychological development (Kliebard, 2002). Kliebard (2002) argues that learning is self-centered to integrate the mind of an individual. However, supporters of the other 3 groups denounce this group. They argue that child study has insignificant effects on the public curricula. Finally, social meliorism directs the purpose of the curriculum into a social base (Kliebard, 2002). It is argued that the curriculum has a role to improve and modify the social status of a society (Flinders & Thornton, 2009).

The Philosophical Perspective

The ideologies presented by Schiro (2008) review the vitality of the curriculum in recent times. There are four groups of philosophical ideologies identified by Schiro (2008).

Scholar academic ideology

Scholar academic ideology describes that a lot of knowledge has been accumulated in the world today (Schiro, 2008). Documented ideas and scholarly materials have been accumulated for studies. Consequently, it perceives education as a tool to drive this knowledge to new generations. Education recycles the available knowledge and skill for future uses. According to Flinders and Thornton (2009), people learn and develop their ideas when their minds have integrated to high levels. This integration allows them to make discoveries. If education is not kept in a continuous system, people will fail to advance the available knowledge. However, the current status of information technology has allowed people to study faster and efficiently than during the 20th century. According to this ideology, education could be described as a ladder that assists people to reach a level where they can make discoveries (Schiro, 2008).

Social Efficiency Ideology

Secondly, according to Ornstein and Hunkins (2009), social efficiency ideology identifies education as a way of teaching to enlighten the future of society. According to this theory, children learn and mature to participate in building a society (Schiro, 2008). People who agree with this theory argue that the capabilities of individuals are depicted by their competitive nature in performance (Flinders & Thornton, 2009). Consequently, the learners identify the needs of the community and study to serve it. Therefore, learners are aware of the market of their courses and their target achievements in society.

Learner-Centered Ideology

It is vital to note that learners could study to serve their interests. In this case, schooling serves the purpose of nurturing, developing, and preparing learners for other life issues. This implies that education must not pay attention to the learning process. For instance, schooling could be developing the physical attributes and social status of a student. These could be exemplified by sports and class activities that ensure proper physical fitness. This argument is termed as learner-centered ideology. The theory bases its argument on the fact that people have personal capabilities showing up after maturity. Therefore, the only reason for schooling is to remain fit socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Learners create meaning of their presence through interactions until maturity where they take their talents into work.

Social Reconstruction

Finally, the last ideology argues that education tries to transform the current unhealthy society into another state where issues such as racism and gender are void (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). It aims at reconstructing society into a state without inequalities. The ideology behind this argument is referred to as social reconstruction. People learn and accept the living styles of others by coordinating them in education systems. Therefore, education resolves the inequalities and other issues present in society. The ideology retrieves these bases from a cultural stand where people have divergent means and strategies of living.

Academic experts
We will write a custom Education essay specifically for you for only $16.00 $11/page Learn more

John Dewey’s Curriculum Theory

The education system is becoming repetitive due to the failure of upgrading the learning resources. This theory suggests that learners must be able to deal with modern society (Dewey, 1967). For instance, students must be able to use computers when learning to facilitate universal growth through information technology in education. According to Dewey (1967), education should recognize the perspective that children perceive their world. Dewey describes 4 impulses that determine the characters of the young learners. For instance, a study relating the social and expressive attributes of children with their lives could make sense of the world that they stay in (Dewey, 1967). Additionally, constructive and artistic impulses allow children to develop ideas from the real world (Dewey, 1967). According to Reynolds & Webber (2004), this personal development allowing a child to develop and implement ideas without interruption from learning systems could be effective. However, the modern world requires diversity and integration due to differences in languages and other attributes of the society such as laws.

Review of Theories in a Comparative Manner

Most theories discussed above have degrees of centering argument to one or two issues (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). For instance, it would be possible for child study and social efficiency to exist concurrently in a schooling institution. Which theory considers most attributes of the modern world? Clear distinctions are reflected from various theoretical works presented. From the historical perspective, participating theorists showed particulate purposes of education (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). They described that education was either aimed at improving the economy, enlightening children to serve society, solving social problems, or developing children psychologically. These arguments have attributes of one base. The modern world integrates many issues in the curriculum. Most of these aspects are considered together in a single institution. A parent could take a child into a school for physical, intellectual, and social development among others. Although most children school to learn and gain knowledge about performing duties in society, some do not have the capacity and fitness to perform well (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). Therefore, parents take them into holding institutions where they can interact with other children until their talents motivate them. This argument shows that the ideology with the most attributes of the modern world could serve as the best theory.

On the other hand, other theorists considered the current situations and states in the world (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). For instance, the argument laid under scholar academic ideology makes a substantial allegation about continuous learning. The theorist identified that continuous learning could facilitate the identification of discoveries (Reynolds & Webber, 2004). According to Ornstein & Hunkins (2009), many learners could be able to reach the doctorate level where they can publish new ideas and perform adequate researches. A question could facilitate an understanding of this argument. What would happen if there were no continuous graduations? Probably, the available knowledge will cease to develop. People would refer to the present documents at times of need. The advances and developments being made in most sectors, such as information technology, would remain stranded. Therefore, it is clear that scholar academic ideology is the most effective and contextual theory incorporating learning with many other modern attributes.


Theorists have identified diversities of ideologies to explain the education systems considerably (Flinders & Thornton, 2009). They have identified some of the most intricate needs of schooling. Therefore, they have given meaning to all learners by promising them some achievements after the end of learning. This implies that a learner can become a skilled, talented, or gifted worker. However, theorists should pay attention to the full-scale purpose of education.


Dewey, J. (1967). The early works, 1882-1898. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Flinders, D. J., & Thornton, S. J. (2009). The curriculum studies reader (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Kliebard, H. M. (2002). Changing course American curriculum reform in the 20th century. New York: Teachers College Press.

15% OFF Get your very first custom-written academic paper with 15% off Get discount

Ornstein, A., & Hunkins, F. (2009). Curriculum Foundations, Principles and Issues. Boston: Pearson Education.

Pinar, W. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Reynolds, W. M., & Webber, J. A. (2004). Expanding curriculum theory dispositions and lines of flight. Mahwah: Erlbaum Associates.

Schiro, M. (2008). Curriculum theory: conflicting visions and enduring concerns. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.