Mkandawire Benson Sitwe (2010). What does Hilda Taba mean when she claims that decisions to the fundamental curriculum elements should be made according to valid criteria.
o Fundamental curriculum elements refer to very important aspects which hold a central place in curriculum development. When Hilda talks about valid criteria, she refers to a standard that is expected to be followed when developing a curriculum which is defined by Print (1993), as “ all the planned learning opportunities offered to learners by the educational institutions and the experiences learners encounter when the curriculum is implemented”.
o Hilda Taba in valid criteria meant that a curriculum should reflect the expectations and needs of both the learner and the society by firstly diagnosing their needs and develop curriculum in a logically organised and coherent pattern. Taba also claimed that all curricula were composed of fundamental elements which are some selection and organisation of content.
o By valid criteria, Hilda Taba means that a curriculum does not emanate from nowhere but address the real issues affecting the people in the society and therefore, its development must involve the following stages: Step 1 Diagnosis of needs – these arise from situation analysis which gives out the needs as they exist in the environment. Step 2 Formulation of objectives – objectives are formulated to address the diagnosis of needs. Step 3 Selection of content – choosing what to be included out of the so much content available. Step 4 Organisation of content – what exactly will be taught at each stage of the learner’s development and why? Step 5 Selection of learning experiences – what will the learner do in order to assimilate the content. Step 6 Organisation of learning experiences – what will the learner do in order to assimilate the content Step 7 determining what to evaluate and ways of doing it.
o By valid criteria, Taba meant the development of curriculum must follow a rationale and sequential approach to curriculum development to be rational, it meant applying a scientific approach to situational analysis , not just arriving at developing a curriculum haphazardly but curriculum development was to be arrived at following a scientific method. This means that the criteria for decisions would be derived from a study of factors constituting a reasonable basis for the curriculum. This criteria . may come from various sources such as from tradition; from society pressure were we have factors such as the learners, the learning process, the culture demands and the content of the disciples; and criteria may also come from established habits.
o By valid criteria she meant that developing a curriculum should; Reflect the needs of the society as well as that of the learners. For example, if through situation analysis, a need that grade 9 dropouts cannot read or even write properly in English arises, a curriculum development needs to find out why this is so, and why society needs these learners to have these skills at this stage, what will the knowledge of reading and writing benefit the learner at this stage.
o She meant that the development of the curriculum should be of social relevance and utility to the one going through the learning process. That is it should not just be theoretical but society must see something meaningful and relevant. For example, if a child before interaction with education had no respect for elders, after coming into contact with education, he should change this bad attitude for the better and then we would say education has scored in this individual.
o By valid criteria, Hilda Taba meant that the development of the curriculum must be flexible but yet systematic with rigidity unbound – this is to mean that it should fit in the environment in which it is to be implemented that is it should be adaptable to the learner and the teacher so that improving the welfare of the learner can be facilitated . For example, if in home economics the learners are to learn on equipment found in the kitchen, those in the urban areas will be exposed to such equipment as stoves, fridges, dinning tables and pressure cookers. The one in a rural setting should be exposed to the brazier, wood stove, umutondo for a fridge, lead mat for dinning table, inongo for a pressure cooker and so on. Therefore it must reflect the happening of society. That is, it should expose the learner to things that are real in the society where the curriculum is being implemented. For example, the child should be taught that if they indulge in premarital sex, they can get HIV/AIDS or fall pregnant for girls and not the myth that this can make them grow long nails.
o By valid criteria, Hilda Taba also suggests that the development of curriculum should also be anchored on raising some critical consciousness in the learner. That is the curriculum should impart in the learner the zeal to question the knowledge they have come across. For example, if they are taught about Zambia being a democratic nation. Looking at what they see or hear taking place such as rigging elections, violence between members of opposing parties, the learner should question as to whether this is the kind of democracy because initially they will already have on their finger tips the true attributes of democracy.
o The curriculum should be designed to accommodate the views of the learners. This is to say, while curriculum stipulates the content, the learners have input in the learning process because they may have prior knowledge of the content acquired earlier through prior knowledge of the content acquired earlier through reading, the media or colleagues, they should not be looked upon as empty buckets that need filling but as knowledgeable individuals.
o Taba’s claim for valid criteria as a basis for making decisions on curriculum elements can help curriculum developers to know what to include when seeking and organising content because they will have reflected on society’s needs and taken on board the learner needs, based on situational analysis arrived at using a scientific approach. The latter is actually Taba’s greatest contribution to curriculum development.
Farrant, J. S.(1980), Principles and Practice of Education. United Kingdom: Longman Group Ltd
Wheeler, D.K (1967), Curriculum Process. London: University of London Press.
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