In a core curriculum, a predetermined body of skills, knowledge, and abilities is taught to all students.
The core curriculum movement assumes there is a uniform body of knowledge that all students should know. Presumably, this curriculum will produce educated and responsible graduates for the community.
Unfortunately, there often isn’t much consensus on who is the community and who speaks for the community. In fact, there is a growing conflict about what topics a core curriculum should contain. Some advocates would limit the core to basic academic subjects like English, math, science, and government, while others would include general learner outcomes such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and community service.
Let’s examine how a core curriculum affects the following elements of education:
Curriculum–The curriculum is built on a mandated core, which is defined and designed outside the classroom. All students learn a common set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Though academic content remains the primary focus of the core curriculum, some core teaching is moving toward application and problem solving.
Instruction–Instruction is based on a defined core content. Rather than focusing on discovery, teaching revolves around imparting a predetermined body of knowledge. Although the core curriculum method does not preclude using critical thinking, problem solving, and team learning, it prompts teaching toward the “correct” answer.
Assessment–The core content literally shapes the assessment process. The core curriculum method easily lends itself to traditional testing based on information recall, as well as the use of conventional letter grades. However, a core curriculum doesn’t preclude the use of authentic assessment and portfolios.