Curriculum is the driving force of a school and can be loosely defined as the framework within which the teaching learning in a school is designed. In that sense, it is the most crucial operational document and yet the schools have the least say in its creation. This document which, in sanctity, is treated next only to the country’s constitution and holy text, is designed by Curriculum Committees largely composed of bureaucrats, scholars and academicians, with few, if any representing the schools. Most of these people have a very sound understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of learning and pedagogy but are clueless about the dynamics of a classroom. A few are also politically motivated with no interest in education and learning but see curriculum as means for scoring political mileage.
Curriculum committees have served their purpose in the past but today its confining, cumbersome and insular style of working is hindering and retarding the process of curriculum design. Yet they have the mandate of creating information that inform school/classroom decisions. Curriculum committees in their current form are redundant and are on the verge of extinction unless they refocus their purpose and modus operandi.
At a time when elementary curriculum is becoming more and more transdisciplinary, Indian curriculum creators in their bid to pay obeisance to the sanctity of disciplines with utter disregard to principles of understanding and working of the brain, like it compartmentalised and departmentalised. Although a beginning has been made in the form of National Curriculum Framework (NCF)-2005, we are yet to make our elementary curriculum interdisciplinary! In some cases the curriculum fails to align vertically and horizontally making it imbalanced, repetitive or incomplete, a problem acknowledged by the makers of the NCF-2005. Most of these committees base their work on national calendar and not on school calendar that actually determines the goings on in a school.
In many countries curriculum committees are, slowly but surely, being replaced by curriculum mapping, a concept that owes its origin to work undertaken by Fenwick English is rooted in commonsense practices. Curriculum mapping provides for increasing inclusion of teachers in decision-making roles making the exercise more meaningful and data more accessible for the purpose of analysis, sorting and communicating; and also been acknowledged in the NCF-2005. This ensures better articulation of the curriculum to all stakeholders and its integration by making natural intersecting points more visible; ensuring realistic and meaningful understanding by the learners. Curriculum mapping provides for best developmental placement of concept and skills within and across the grades, especially in the elementary grades.