Curriculums are designed to guide a child’s intended
progress in their learning. Regions, schools and teachers refer to these
curriculums to structure and justify the learning that takes place. Curriculum
models are structured to increase knowledge, skills and complexity as a child
progresses in their learning. The philosophy that underpins the structure of a
curriculum is demonstrated in the way the curriculum itself is structured. Two
general styles of curriculum structure exist – linear described as stages in
knowledge and experience ( Kinchin & Cabot, 2010) and spiral ( described as
‘spaces for experimentation in thinking and being’ (Gude, 2012, p78). Both are
structured to outline where a child should be on their learning journey,
however their structure reflects the different epistemological beliefs held
about children’s learning.

 

Kinchin & Cabot, put forward that a linear
approach is identifiable by its singular progression through stages of
knowledge and experience (2010). Outcomes within a linear curriculum are taught
in isolation and are focused upon knowledge acquisition rather than conceptual
understanding, such as in a spiral curriculum structure. Linear teaching is
visualized as teaching within a silo mentality, with little or no reference to
other subject areas (Rose, 2015). Similarly, a linear curriculum does not
develop connections with other discipline area outcomes, but are singular in
their intent (Doll 1995). Whereas a spiral curriculum structure, because of its
conceptual base and continually revisiting of those concepts allows for
children to make connections across discipline areas.

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At the foundation of a spiral curriculum is the belief
that an active and engaged student is at the centre of the learning process.
Timperley, Kaser & Halbert, argue that within a spiral of inquiry model
learners and their families are involved throughout the learning process, the
learners develop their learning agency (2014). As they progress through their learning a
spiral curriculum gives students the opportunity to consider concepts through
multiple perspectives (Kitsantas & Miller, 2015). These multiple lenses add
to the student’s depth and dimensional understanding of the concepts. The
spiral design of a curriculum into a spiral, gives students an opportunity to
continually build upon their prior learning (Resurrecion & Adanoza, 2015;
Jamie et al, 2016). These associations become the building blocks upon which
students construct their own meaning.