Sunday, March 4, 2018

What is Curriculum?

What is Curriculum?

A curriculum is a document or a plan that exists in a school and guides the teachers to teach the topics of the subjects. Ralph Tyler(1902-1994): “Believes that Curriculum is a science and an extension of schools philosophy based on students’ needs and interests.” A good curriculum is flexible and supports the needs of the continuous change.
Relevant Concepts in Curriculum

Curriculum is designed in such a way that the need of different group of learners is catered: At kindergarten, the curriculum is little informal and it aims to learn basic language, numeracy and basic values. In higher classes, the curriculum aims at providing a structured platform, it is more focused, which gives every child an equal opportunity to excel. Without an effective curriculum, a student would not be able to understand or meet the challenges of the society. At colleges and higher education: The curriculum is reduced to a field of their interest and it will go on to determine and shape the career. The curriculum prepares an individual with the knowledge to be successful, confident and responsible citizens.

Factors Determining Curriculum

Lyn Yates (Re-thinking knowledge, re-thinking work, chapter 2) highlights that “…Neither the attempt to deny that the high status curriculum favours some social groups (and the resources they can muster) nor the attempt to declare all subjects and all assessment pieces equal, are sustainable. Neither approach resolves the tension where curriculum is designed to be both a vehicle of acculturation and social induction and a vehicle for high stakes differential opportunity.”

The quality content curriculum should encompass various fields; it should be comprehensible, gender-sensitive and relevant to schooling. It should be also based on defined learning outcomes, non-discriminatory and student centred. The content should have both unique local, national and international content.

Several factors affect curriculum development in meeting the needs of 21st century learners. Some broad factors affecting curriculum development include government policy, political, social, economic, and technological.

Politics affect curriculum development in numerous ways.  In Bhutan, the government through its education ministries, namely the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Department of Curriculum Research and Development (DCRD) have right to  monitor and supervise the curriculum at all educational levels. The funding of education is greatly influenced by politics and so is the formation of curriculum.

Society has its own expectations about the aims and objectives that should be considered when designing the curriculum. For example, subjects which have cultural taboo and is from some religious segments should be looked into.

The free education in Bhutan is given to every citizen of the country in expectation of an economic return from educated students who will contribute to the country's economy in various fields. So the need of the economy influences curriculum development.

The computer technology of the 21st century influences curriculum development at every level of learning. Every child now receives ICT learning from very young age at school. Learning centers and classrooms with computers are requisite for studies among students.

Developing relevant curriculum takes into account of religion, culture and social groupings because these characteristics influence the types of topics and methods for teaching information.

Arguments Related to Perspectives Upon Curriculum

Education is an instrument for the achievement of national goals (Odili, Ebisine and Ajuar, 2011; Tshabalala and Khosa, 2014)). This accounts for the huge chunk of money government spent on education every year. In order to make education meaningful and relevant to the society it depends on how the curriculum is developed. A curriculum is the total of educationally valuable experiences that learners undergo in a school or other training institutions (Adentwi, 2005).
There are many arguments related to perspectives upon curriculum and their implementations. These are different perceptions from teachers, students and society.  

Teachers are heart in the system of education who contribute to successful implementation of curriculum, have field experiences about what and how to teach and to suit different children skills and knowledge. For a good curriculum, the participation of all teachers to design curriculum is important. In most of the education system like Bhutan, ‘the teachers are just ordered to carry out the curricula that they did not take part in designing (Chitate, 2005; Oloruntegbe et al., 2010; Maphosa1 and Mutopa, 2012; Eunitah et al., 2013) making the curriculum liable to a high rate of rejection by the implementers.’

The huge workload of teachers such as teaching, writing lesson plans, assessing, other responsibilities, but less payment at the end of month is major barriers to teachers’ participation in curriculum design and implementation in the fields. Teachers like me perceive that it should be decentralized, and have flexible curriculum, so the need of learners and society is adjusted.

Curriculum Practices and policies ensure that the prescribed curriculum is translated into meaningful learning experiences for the students, but in reality it is taken over by the school management and administration practices. For a Buddhist, education should lead the learner to enlightenment, the ultimate Buddha hood, a freedom from the cycle of rebirth through realisation of the truth. It fulfils the role of education in promotion of GNH. In a way, there is management system where cultural importance is realized and prescribed curriculum is not very much practiced. This is because there is need of preservation of culture in that community. Students and people outside have a notion that our curriculum is designed to conserve environment, preserve culture, good governance and sustainable development. And they perceive that it is not a globalized curriculum. I feel that although Bhutanese curriculum is localized but it has a crucial element of global curriculum. Through local, we can go globally.

Reference to Academic Literature and Curriculum Debates 

Educational reform usually comes from government and schools. In general, experts tend to have an important role to play in developing curricula at the central level (Jackson, 1992). In Korea, the recent curriculum development process built on commissioned research and was conducted by a working group composed largely of experts from the Korea Educational Development Institute (Box 4). In Australia, the government and private publishing houses play a direct role in the central curriculum development process. In India, the early period of British colonial rule has tremendous education effect; there is still a debate and tensions between the colonial view of education and the nationalist postcolonial aims of education. Similarly, Bhutan has adopted Indian curriculum not very long ago, but now our curriculum is Bhutanized, and this, combined with the international system. As we go on with it, there are many professional debates in Bhutan; one such is whether to include world history in the syllabus or not; because the teachers have found out that it was not very useful practically.

In recent times, examination has been applied to the currently widespread curriculum approach, the standards based curriculum. A range of criteria has been identified for evaluating standards schema, and any curriculum from the system to the school level will profit from considering them (Linn, Baker and Dunbar, 1991; Krathwohl, 2002; Payne, 2003; Cizek, Bunch and Koons, 2004; Klieme et al., 2006). These various examinations and assessment modes have changed little from the past 19th century grading. The summative assessment through rote learning has to be change to formative or continuous assessment. One paper cannot judge the degree of a person.

The Australian Curriculum aims to provide students with deep knowledge of subject domains, through ‘rigorous, idepth study, preferring depth to breadth wherever a choice needs to be made...’ (ACARA 2012: 10). This raises the question of just what deep knowledge is, and how it can be identified and promoted within the subjects of the curriculum. The subjects of the curriculum are thought to develop distinctive understandings, skills and values.

A shift to teach better using different pedagogical skills has dominated education system. From a curriculum perspective, this provides a rich insight into the kinds of teaching activities which might be expected to lead to successful learning of intended outcomes. Likewise in Bhutan, 21st century teaching pedagogy training was conducted in 2015 by the Ministry of Education for all teachers in Bhutan. It was a new wine in the old bottle; teachers went back to traditional method of after few months. The reason was the teaching curriculum was so vast and if pedagogies were to use, the curriculum need readdressing.

The education sector is the derivation of politicians, parents, community members, teachers and students who play vital parts of the reform process. They provide a wealth of knowledge about educational and policy reformation of curriculum.


1.    Appadurai. A. (1996) Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions ofGlobalisation,University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London.

2.    Bowers, B. 1991. Teacher involvement in curriculum development. Volume Z Number 3 (ED 331 153).

3.    Hoang.  Thienhuong (2008). Perception, Curriculum, and Subject Matter: Reforming Instruction. (ISSN: 1206-9620) College of Education and Integrative Studies, Department of Teacher Education,  California State Polytechnic University, Pomona 3801 West Temple Avenue Pomona, CA 91768 USA

5.    Thomson, P. (1999a) Doing Justice: Stories of Everyday Life in Disadvantaged Schools and Neighbourhoods. Unpublished, Education PhD, Deakin University, GeeJong.

6.    Ura. k, Alkire.S & Zangpo. T. GNH and GNH Index. The centre for Bhutan Studies.pp,15. Retrieved on 15th October from

7.    Ura. K (2009). A Proposal for GNH Value Education in Schools. published 2009 by Gross National Happiness Commission.Bhutan's Education Sector. Retrieved 16/10/2013 from: On the Role of Education in a Democracy (2003, February 12) Retrieved October 10, 2013, from      

8.    Yates. Lyn, & Grumet. Madeleine ( Edited 2011) World Yearbook of Education 2011: Curriculum in Today’s World: Configuring Knowledge, Identities, Work and Politics. Routledge, Feb 1, 2011

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Environmental Justice and Sustainable development

One key concept that I have learned from lecture one is Environmental Justice. And one key thing that I have learned from the online resource is Kopnina’s transition from environmental education (EE) to education for sustainable development (ESD).
Environmental Justice ‘…refers to equitable distribution of environmental goods, such as natural resources and clean air and water, among human populations as well as between species.’ (Kopnina,2011, p.128, my italics). It is now time to think over and change from anthropocentric to eco-centric jurisprudence. Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment and to have access to basic services and the services should come with the protection, preservation and improvement of the environment.

No other living species is so powerful than humans in the world. We are destroying our own right to live sometimes and in this way there is increasing need to protection of nature and wild life with sustainable development. Every being has right to enjoy healthy environment.

In this context, in Bhutan, we have various ways of promoting flora and fauna. We have 70 percent of our land left to a rich biodiversities of nature and animals. There are many departments like Bhutan biodiversity portal, Ministry of Forest, RNR to support the balanced use of environment benefits. The constitution law protects wild life and endangered species from extinction.

For instance, recently, our government has built houses for stray dogs. Instead of killing them they were given food and are looked after. Treating animals cruelly is against the rights to life. Many dogs have their conditions improved because of better health like vaccination and other medical treatments timely.
I begin to understand now that to accomplish different sustainable goals, every human is responsible. People must behave and act in a sustainable way. It’s an individual responsibility in a way. Reducing the carbon/ecological footprint by choosing to reduce, reuse, recycle efforts will help everyone contribute towards making this earth a better place to live in.
And one key thing that I have learned from the online resource is Kopnina’s transition from environmental education (EE) to education for sustainable development (ESD). These two concepts I have chosen overlap each other as they both talk about sustainability.
The write up by Kopnina made me realize that environmental justice, animals rights, human rights can be embedded into education for sustainable development.  As education for sustainable development (ESD) focuses on different ethical frameworks in relation to human and non-humans, cultural relativism and subjectivism perspectives, I feel it places important philosophies and intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment. It is not based on egocentric but an anthropocentric and Ecocentric Attitudes Towards Sustainable Development. Likewise, schools in Bhutan have incorporated life skills learning and activities, value oriented classes and all good values of life. Ärlemalm-Hagsér and Sandberg (2011) have noted that SD is seen as a holistic approach, an environmental issue or a democratic issue with the particular emphasis on ‘fundamental topics’ that do not concern ecological issues. These issues include four categories: children’s views, social relations, gender equality and cultural diversity.
The concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) is characterized by environment justice and sustainable development in the school curriculum. For example, at all level children are taught the middle path – the concept of not too much, not too little. The contribution of people in some way or directly input the aspect of other human welfare. So the emphasized conceptualizations and operations of ESD is very much in place and have led to a number of very useful developments, both in theory and in practice in Bhutan.
In whole, the earth is a common property of all of us. It is our world and it is their world. Animals have as much right to live as human beings. By respecting animal rights and having consideration for animal welfare, we also support ecological balance.
I agree on having education for sustainable development, I believe that environment education is vital to understand socio-political, cultural, moral beliefs and values. The ESD fulfills inconsistency of effective environmental studies. And the implication of having education for sustainable development is massive; the education changes the unethical attitude and outlook of a person and become conscience of complexion of the nature of the humanity.

1.      Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E., and A. Sandberg. 2011. Sustainable development in early childhood education: In-service students’ comprehension of the concept. Environmental Education. Research 17, no. 2: 187–200.

2.      Helen Kopnina, Frans Meijers, (2014) "Education for sustainable development (ESD): Exploring theoretical and practical challenges", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 15 Issue: 2, pp.188-207,

3.      Kopnina, H. 2011a. Educating for environmental justice. In Sage green education series, Vol. 7, ed. P. Robbins, J. Newman, and J.G. Golson. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.