Beginning the Map..The Three Dimensions

February 3, 2008 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

ImageA curriculum is a map of learning. It needs to be flexible enough to take advantage of sudden twists or turns or new sites of interest. Learning needs to be an adventure. Lewis and Clark headed on a journey of discovery and learning. They used the above map as a guide. It offer a direction but left many gaps. Lewis and Clark lead the corp of discovery to learning. They filled in the map with their discoveries. Just as Lewis and Clark led their team through the wilderness, the classroom teacher leads the corp of learning to discover. Lewis and Clark were given a specific set of instructions by Thomas Jefferson. He wanted The Corps of Discovery to learn about the waterways, the native population, the possibility of settlement, the fauna and flora, the resources and to fill in the gaps on the map. (You can read Jefferson’s letter to Lewis at:,44 ). This what a curriculum should be! A map with a few landmarks and a great deal of space to fill. This is curriculum design at its best.

Curriculum design begins at the state level with mandates from the state legislature. The State Board of Education designs the first set of landmarks that are expected to be included in each of the state’s school districts curriculum. Using the state’s landmarks (called standards, benchmarks, state goals, etc), the local school district develops a curriculum to be implemented in each of the schools in the district. Schools may or may not be allowed to alter landmarks. The teacher is expected to implement the curriculum in the classroom. State tests are administered usually in the spring each year to students in certain grades- third, seventh and eighth, for example. The test results are then used to determine how well a school has achieved the landmarks designated by the state. Planning (development of curriculum), Implementation (teachers teaching the curriculum) and Assessment (the state standardize test)- the teaching cycle! Evaluation comes after assessment.

Curriculum can be explicit or implicit. Explicit is the curriculum that is developed with countless hours of work in little meetings. Explicit curriculum has two dimensions. Horizontal refers to the landmarks included in a certain level. For example, Third grade and Biology are two horizontal levels. The horizontal dimension has two aspects: Scope and Sequence. Scope refers to what topics are included and what specific landmark should be captured. Sequence refers to the order the topics are presented. The vertical dimension refers to the the development of topics over time. For example, first grade math introduces addition while second grade math introduces multiplication. The implicit curriculum is the third dimension of a curriculum. Implicit curriculum includes the school climate, the color paint, the friendliness, the feeling of safeness, etc. The implicit curriculum is often not addressed in the same detail as that of the explicit curriculum.

In summary, Curriculum is a map of the landmarks of learning (goals, standards, benchmarks, etc). The curriculum is three dimensional. It is horizontal; along the grade or subject level which includes the scope and sequence. It is vertical; topics carried up the ladder of learning. And the third dimension (implicit curriculum) includes the atmosphere in which learning occurs.

So the teacher begins with a map with landmarks. The teacher is expected to guide his pupils through the wilderness of learning capturing landmarks and filling in their maps of learning. As years of experience in various grades of learning continue, the pupil grows to a student filled with the best traditions and knowledge of the past society. This allows the student to step into adulthood and take over the cherished values of their society. The map has filled in.


Entry filed under: Curriculum.

The Journey Begins… The Learning Legend…

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February 2008
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