chapter  2
11 Pages

The nature and structure of curriculum objectives

If curriculum planning is a matter of planning means to specified ends, and an educational curriculum therefore serves educational ends, the clearer we are about those ends and their nature the more adequate the planning can be. Something has already been said about their character in discussing the logic of curriculum planning, but further elucidation is called for if even the most general problems we face in contemporary planning are to be rationally approached. Not long ago educationists talked about ‘aims’ rather than ‘objectives’ and this shift to a more technical term alone indicates a growing awareness that more detailed description of the achievements we are after is desirable. If what it is we want to achieve is first indicated in expressions of great generality, these need to be unpacked into much more specific terms or little positive guidance is provided for educational practice. To be of value we must eventually analyse these ends down to particular achievements we wish pupils to reach, detailed enough for us to be able to judge how to promote these and not other achievements with which they could be confused, and detailed enough for us to be able to judge when pupils have and have not reached them. By curriculum objectives, I shall mean the achievements we want, specified to this degree. In common parlance and educational debate, both ‘aims’ and ‘objectives’ can have varying degrees of specificity and nothing is gained by attempting to legislate particular uses for these terms. Indeed, it seems to me necessary on different occasions to discuss educational ends at different levels depending on the character of the issues at stake. When we get down to the job of drawing up curricula for implementation in school, however, the greater the degree of specificity the better, and in speaking of curriculum objectives I shall have in mind as tight a description of what is to be learnt as is available.