Six Famous Curriculum Theorists and their Contributions to Education

This article deals with influential people in the educational system particularly in shaping the curriculum as we know today. It also talks about their specific contributions that can still be observed by the present generation of learners.

Let’s enumerate and discuss the curriculum theorists and their contributions by chronological order.

The Six Famous Curriculum Theorists

1. Franklin Bobbit (1876-1956)

Bobbit believes that the learning objectives, together with the activities, should be grouped and sequenced after clarifying the instructional activities and tasks. He also views curriculum as a science that emphasizes the needs of the students. This viewpoint explains why lessons are planned and organized depending on the needs of the students and these needs must be addressed by the teachers to prepare them for adult life.

2. Werret Charters (1875-1952)

Aside from emphasizing the students’ needs, he believes that the objectives, along with the corresponding activities, should be aligned with the subject matter or content. For that reason, department chairpersons or course coordinators scrutinize the alignment or matching of objectives and subject matter prepared by the faculty members.

3. William Kilpatrick (1871-1965)

For him, the purpose of curriculum is child development, growth, and social relationship. He also introduced the use of small group interaction, and the project method in which the teacher and students plan together. Thus, it is called as the child-centered curriculum.

4. Harold Rugg (1886-1960)

He introduced the concept of the development of the whole child, the inclusion of social studies, and the importance of curriculum planning in advance.

5. Hollis Caswell (1901-1989)

He believes that subject matter is developed around the interest of the learners and their social functions. So, the curriculum is a set of experiences. Learners must experience what they learn.

6. Ralph Tyler (1902-1994)

And as to the hallmark of curriculum development as a science, Ralph Tyler believes that curriculum should revolve around the students’ needs and interests. The purpose of curriculum is to educate the generalists and not the specialists, and the process must involve problem solving. Likewise, subject matter is planned in terms of imparting knowledge, skills and values among students.

To sum it up, the famous curriculum theorists have almost similar views. All of them believe that the curriculum should be learner-centered – addressing the needs and interests of the students. All of them have salient contributions to the educational system of the world today.

If you are an observant student, you might ask the following questions about your teachers:

  • Why is it that we are required to do projects, solve problems, and work in groups?
  • Why is it that our teachers are being observed in class, and their lesson plans or syllabi are checked?
  • Why is it that all of us should take social studies, and not only the 3Rs?
  • Why are the lessons being prepared in advance?
  • Why should we experience what we have learned?
  • Why do our teachers integrate values in our lessons?
  • And why is it that the school is after our development as whole individuals (to become generalists) and be ready to face life’s challenges?

The answers to your questions are the people behind our educational system. They are the curriculum theorists.

Now, would you like to become one someday?


Bilbao, P. P., Lucido, P. I., Iringan, T. C., and Javier, R. B. (2008). Curriculum development. Philippines: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.

© 2014 December 3 M. G. Alvior


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