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What is a Traditional Curriculum?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A traditional curriculum is an educational curriculum which follows established guidelines and practices. This term can refer both to a curriculum as a whole, as in the set of courses which students must take to graduate and the order in which they are presented, and to the curriculum in the form of the content taught in an individual class. This curriculum is sometimes criticized for being too narrow, and a number of education professionals have developed alternative educational methods, or suggestions for teaching a traditional curriculum in a more expanded way.

In the sense of an entire curriculum, a traditional curriculum includes core subjects and electives. Core subjects usually include topics like math, science, history, and English. Students may also take courses in the social sciences, and can expand their curriculum with topics like art, foreign languages, music, acting, and so forth. The curriculum is designed in a progressive way, with each level being slightly more challenging than the last, requiring students to build skills and use them as their work their way through the curriculum.

In an individual classroom, the traditional curriculum involves the presentation of information in the form of blocks or units which are broken into smaller units of information and presented by the teacher to the students. Traditionally, exchange between students and teachers is less encouraged, and the facilitation of class discussion is also not a part of this curriculum. These are seen as shortcomings by some educators, who feel that students are more likely to develop critical thinking skills and to internalize and apply the information if they have discussions with the class, present projects which allow them to expand the material, and so forth. Increasingly, such activities are being accepted into curricula around the world.

The traditional curriculum can also be heavily standards-based, with testing used to measure accomplishment and progress. This practice has also been criticized by educations, as standards-based curricula can take on a “teach to the test” format in which students are provided with information which will help them pass a test, but not necessarily with information which they can use. For example, math education might be very based on learning set formulas and ways of doing math, but not on developing math skills which could be useful in real life.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By suntan12 — On Dec 03, 2010

The curriculum lessons i Asian countries is totally different that the American math lessons.

A China curriculum in math, for example introduces a few concepts at a time and continues to offer these same concepts until there is mastery of the concept.

The Asian viewpoint towards math reveals that this method actual lays a strong foundation because the child has successfully grasped the skill.

This makes it easier to move on to increasingly more difficult work. In addition, these countries believe that a child is able to begin abstract concepts in math by age 7.

It is at this point that mental calculations should begin.

If you want your child to improve in the area of math, you can look at Singapore Math curriculum lesson plans for the home school edition.

They offer enrichment programs as well as standard programs. They are the exact lesson plan curriculum that is used in Singapore.

A recent survey ranked Singapore number one in the world within the area of math. This is why many first grade curriculums in California schools are beginning to offer this program.

Enrolling your child in Kumon is another option because they focus on mastery of math operations which ensures that the child will be able to handle Algebra and Calculus when they get older.

By Sunny27 — On Dec 01, 2010

Elementary curriculum is based on a variety of teaching methods.

For example, many American schools display a spiral method in order to teach mathematics. With this approach a conceptual topic is introduced and then it is introduced a few additional times with increased difficulty.

The Saxon Math program is a perfect example. Critics of this method of lesson plan curriculum say that there is not enough practice of a single concept in order for the child to gain mastery.

In addition, they feel that too many concepts are introduced and a proper foundation is never actually set.

The proponents of this method argue that there is sufficient repetition and the additional concepts will help children develop their logical reasoning skills and score higher on standardized tests.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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