CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: Can you comment on the varied complexities of the various foundations of curriculum?



3a i). Analyze the complexities of the various foundations of curriculum


This section provides studies on foundations of curriculum. The cordinal principle in foundations of curriculum is that in a democratic society such as Kenya, education should develop in an individual knowledge, attitudes, skills and powers whereby the individual would find his place in the society and be able to use the foundations to shape both himself and the society for noble ends.

You will find in this, statements of the aims of education with specific objectives based on a set of beliefs of society.

Objectives of Foundation of Curriculum

At the end of this perambulation on foundations of curriculum, you should be able to:

  • Define major terminologies used in foundations of curriculum
  • Name major foundations of curriculum in development
  • Discuss how foundations of curriculum influence Kenyan’s decision-making and policy on education.
  • Identify various ways in which foundations of curriculum are used in Kenya.
  • Suggest ways and means of how to develop and utilize Kenyan’s resources in curriculum development
  • Identify strengths and weakness of Kenya’s 8:4:4 system of education in line with foundations of curriculum.

Purposes of Foundations of Curriculum

According to Bishop (1985), the main purposes of foundations of curriculum are to:-

        • Preserve Cultural Heritage
        • Control Direction and Size of Education
        • Assist in Designing Curriculum
        • Use for Selecting Curriculum Aims, Goals and Objectives
        • Use for Identify Curriculum Implementation Strategies
        • Guide in the Development of Evaluation Instruments
        • Used for identifying Innovation Needs
        • Used for Cultivating Desired Attitudes, Knowledge and Skills
        • Used in policy and Decision Making

Types of Foundations of Curriculum

Philosophical Foundation of Curriculum

    • What is Philosophical Foundation of Curriculum?
    • How does this foundation influence curriculum practice?
    • In what way is philosophical foundation of curriculum the main curriculum source?
    • What is the meaning of the following terms as used in philosophical foundation of curriculum: Realism, Pragmatism, Idealism, Existentialism, Axiology, Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism and Reconstructionalism?


Activity 7

How can schools promote the ideas of equality and Excellence at the same time?

Philosophical foundation of curriculum refers to the nature of man in respect to his policy to select, design and formulate objectives to develop and evaluate his objectives and evaluate his knowledge, attitudes and skills of man in decision making for situational, society’s and learning needs.

Man also derives his methods of presentation, expression, skills to develop and formation of desirable attitudes from philosophical foundation of curriculum.

Objectives of the lecture on philosophical foundation of curriculum are to:

    • Identify major philosophies of education in ancient and modern periods
    • Discuss how the major philosophies of education influence curriculum decision making
    • Establish the fact that philosophical foundation of curriculum is the centre of all educational activities.


Decisions are made on: communities, societies and learner’s needs. Methods of presentation, skills to be developed and desirable attitudes to be formed, require correct decision making derived from philosophy and policy of a country.

Philosophy has entered into every sphere of decision making about curriculum and teaching. This view caters for approaches to:

      • Formation of education purpose
      • Selection of knowledge
      • Organization of knowledge, attitudes and skills
      • Formation of basic procedures in education and curriculum
      • Selection of education resources such as personnel, materials and equipment
      • Identification, selection and development of assessment instruments.

Activity 8

Identify areas in which philosophical foundation of curriculum has contributed to Kenyans Education systems since Independence

Tyler’s (1949) view of philosophy in relation to school purposes is based on five criteria for selecting educational purposes

We shall examine four major schools of philosophy, which have guided the writing, organizing and designing of school curriculum. Some of these philosophies are known  by names. We shall refer to them as reconstructionism, progressivism, essentialism and perennialism. Reconstructionism is the most liberal of the four philosophies and prennialism as the most conservative. Most educational practitioners have used a combination of essentialism and progressivism in curriculum planning construction.

Pragmatism: this philosophy is sometimes referred as experimentalism, which is based on change process and relativity while idealism and realism philosophies emphasize subject matter, disciplines and content or ideas, pragmatism construes knowledge as progress in which reality is constantly changing. Learning goes on as the student engages in problem solving. The idea of problem solving, is however transferable to a wide variety of subjects and situations, knowing is considered a transaction between the student and environment and are constantly changing.

To a pragmatist nothing can be viewed intelligently except in relation to a pattern.

Idealism: In considering the influence of philosophical thought on curriculum, several classification schemes are possible. The cluster of ideas as organized in idealism, are those that often evolve during curriculum development. Plato is the father of idealist/ philosophy.

Idealism emphasizes moral and spiritual development reality as the drier explanation of the world. Truth and values are seen as absolute, timeless and universal. The world of mind and ideas is permanent, regular and orderly, it represents a perfect order. The idealist educator prefers the order and pattern or subject matter curriculum that relates ideas and concepts to each other.

Realism: Aristotle is often linked to the development of realism, which is another school of thought in philosophical foundation of curriculum. The realism views the world in terms of objects and matter. People come to know the world through their senses and reason. Everything is derived from nature and is subject to its laws. When behavior is relational, it conforms to the laws of nature and is governed by physical and social laws.

Like the idealist, the realist stresses a curriculum consisting of organized, separate subject matter, content and knowledge that classifies objectives. The realist locates the most general and abstract subjects at the top of the curriculum literally and gives particular and transitory subjects a lower order of priority.

They believe that the main aim of education is the disciplining of the mind, the development of the ability of reason and pursuit of truth. Therefore, curriculum should emphasize grammar, rhetoric, logic, classical and modern languages, mathematics and the great books of the truth, which is the same today as it was then and always, shall be. These thinkers add to the curriculum the study of the Bible and Theological writings.

Perennialism can afford education, which is suitable to a small percentage of students who possess high verbal and academic aptitude. The ideal education is not directed to immediate needs, specialization but it is education calculated to develop the mind.

Activity 9

Identify some of the beliefs concerning values that are held by educators who belong to the school of perenialists.


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