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The curriculum systematically summarizes learning content and learning objectives according to school type and school year . A curriculum also encompasses the entire concept of teaching and educational methods as well as the objectives of an educational institution.

In some German federal states there are also the terms framework plan or framework curriculum , which are intended to emphasize the planning freedom of teachers within the framework of the plan.


The curriculum was preceded by the educational canon , with which the knowledge to be conveyed in a culture was determined. The first major European school reform movement of the modern age started from the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau , who brought the study of realities, nature and living environments into play as a learning program. The actual canon controversy, to which controversial educational programs were attached, concerned the position of Latin and the ancient languages. In Wilhelm von Humboldt's neo-humanist educational reform , the canon of learning ( Süvern's curriculum from 1810/16 for the Prussian grammar schools) comprised Latin, Greek, German, Hebrew, mathematics, realism, religion, calligraphy as well as singing and sports.

In the German-speaking area, an artificial contrast was created between education and training : "Useful" knowledge and skills were assigned to training and special secondary, industrial or vocational schools. They therefore did not need to be listed in a canon of general education. The continental European canon of learning, in contrast to the school history of the United States ( Herbert Spencer , John Dewey ), was geared towards the importance of learning (education) and not on the importance of life (education).

Curricula are part of the success story of the European education systems. With them, the social increase in knowledge and change in values ​​over decades could be prepared for the adolescents in a stabilizing and renewing way. This made it possible to fulfill the school's core mission of guiding students to face their own future under changing conditions.

In the last 50 years, expectations of the controllability of educational processes and the effectiveness of control instruments have increased. Starting with educational planning, through quality and effectiveness measurement, to governance and evidence-based policy through school policy and administration. The traditional school management was the task of the teaching staff and pedagogical and didactic research.

With the introduction of PISA studies in 2000, the discussion about curricula changed; it is dominated by the new discourse about standards . Statements about curricula now always contain assumptions and statements about standards. In addition to the mere factual discussion, the question of who should define the standards (power to define) arises. The introduction of educational standards is considered an epoch-making innovation in the European school system, historically comparable to the introduction of classroom instruction and compulsory schooling .

Function and validity

Using the curriculum, teachers and students can orientate themselves about the scope and course of the lesson . On the other hand, the curriculum provides teachers with a basis for organizing their teaching activities. As a rule, curricula are formulated in such an open manner that teachers and learners can contribute their own interests and methodological preferences within the thematic framework. They are licenses for individual interpretations of the educational offer by the individual teacher, the individual school. For the textbook and his publishers to curricula affect determinant.

The curriculum specifies what should apply in school, and so every factor of intellectual life, every group of society, every view that wants to have a lasting and broad impact on the youth within school and teaching must seek recognition and To be valid in the current curricula . "

- Erich Less 1952, p. 22


A curriculum usually includes:

  • the teaching objectives,
  • a summary of the course content,
  • Type and number of learning success controls (e.g. oral or written exams), whereby these are often dealt with separately in so-called examination regulations,
  • a list of basic literature (textbook list) and
  • in Baden-Wuerttemberg also competencies such as the methodological, technical and technical competence that the pupils should achieve (curriculum Baden-Wuerttemberg 2004). It is therefore no longer referred to as a “curriculum” but as an educational plan.


In Germany, curricula are issued by the education ministries of the federal states for the individual school types. They are an important means of implementing educational policy goals.


In Austria, the curriculum is designed by the Ministry of Education , taking various experts into account. The experts are, for example, subject didactics from universities and colleges of education or departmental teachers. In a later phase, social partners, school partners, state governments, chambers or religious associations are also involved. The curriculum is a federal law in Austria.


In Switzerland, educational sovereignty rests with the cantons, whose curricula are tailored to historical developments and regional diversity (multilingualism, regional culture, mountain areas, etc.). With the introduction of an educational article in the Federal Constitution of 2006, the aim is to harmonize key values ​​(start of the school year, school entry age, compulsory education, duration and goals of educational levels and transitions, recognition of qualifications). As a result, the harmonization projects HarmoS and Lehrplan 21 were launched for a common, linguistic-regional curriculum for elementary schools in German-speaking Switzerland. The Plan d'études romand (PER) - the curriculum for French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland - has been available since 2010. Both curricula are based on the educational standards approved by the plenary assembly of the EDK ( Swiss Conference of Cantonal Education Directors ) on June 16, 2011 for the attention of the cantons.


  • Peter Villaume : Comment on the question: should the state interfere with education? Berlin 1788.
  • Josef Dolch : The curriculum of the West. Two and a half millennia of its history . Verlag A. Henn, Ratingen 1959, 3rd edition 1971.
  • Edmund Kösel: The modeling of learning worlds. Volume II: The Construction of Knowledge. A didactic epistemology . Sd-Verlag, Bahlingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-00-020795-2 .
  • Henning Schluß : Curriculum development in the new federal states - catching up modernization or reflexive transformation? Wochenschauverlag, Schwalbach / Ts. 2003, ISBN 3-89974-085-8 .
  • Hilbert L. Meyer: Training program for learning goal analysis . Fischer Athenaeum paperbacks, Frankfurt am Main 1984, ISBN 3-7610-3101-7 .
  • Renate Hinz: Pestalozzi and Prussia: on the reception of Pestalozzi pedagogy in the Prussian reform period (1806 / 07-1812 / 13). Haag + Herchen, Hanau 1997, ISBN 978-3892286264 .

Web links

Wiktionary: curriculum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Austria Switzerland

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rudolf Künzli: Curricular Canon Controversies , July 2006 ( PDF ).
  2. ^ Rudolf Künzli: Curricula - a success story at the end of their era? Conference of the LCH delegates Hergiswil, May 24, 2003 ( PDF ).
  3. Der Standard, Curriculum: Life cannot be forced into school subjects , analysis by Lisa Kogelnik and Karin Riss, from September 6, 2015.
  4. Anna-Verena Vries: From the syllabus to the overall pedagogical concept. From the history of the primary school curriculum in the canton of Zurich .
  5. ^ Website for the curriculum 21 project , accessed on October 22, 2010.
  6. NZZ of November 24, 2016: Instruments of school knowledge policy .