Different scholars of education can define the term “curriculum” in many different ways. Some people argue that it covers all of the ways in which students gain knowledge, understanding, and skills. Others argue that this definition is too broad and that it should cover only those ways of gaining knowledge, etc. that are delivered by an institution of learning. Another way of thinking about curriculum is to say that there are actually three aspects of curriculum.
The first aspect is the one that most people think of when they hear the term. This is what scholars call the “formal curriculum.” This could be defined as the regular course of study that is prescribed for students to follow at a given institution. It would include what is to be studied, how it is to be studied, when it is to be studied, and what materials and methods will be used.
The idea that there is a formal curriculum implies that there is also an informal curriculum. This consists of the things that are taught in classes but have not been planned. For example, many teachers will seize upon “teachable moments” to discuss issues that are not on the curriculum but which come up and become important to students.
Finally, there is the “hidden curriculum.” This is the set of ideas that is implied in what we teach. For example, if we teach only books written by white males, we might be implying that only they are important. This would be part of the hidden curriculum.
Thus, we can say that curriculum includes what is taught in schools and how it is taught.