Spiral Curriculum – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Education and Methodologies Glossary

What is Spiral Curriculum?

Spiral curriculum is an educational approach that involves revisiting and building upon previously learned concepts throughout a student’s academic journey. This method allows students to deepen their understanding of a subject over time by repeatedly exposing them to key ideas in a structured and intentional manner.

Spiral curriculum is based on the idea that learning is a continuous and evolving process, and that students benefit from multiple exposures to important concepts. This approach contrasts with the traditional linear curriculum, which focuses on covering new material in a sequential fashion without revisiting previous topics.

History of Spiral Curriculum

The concept of spiral curriculum was first introduced by psychologist Jerome Bruner in the 1960s. Bruner believed that learning is an active process in which students construct their own knowledge through exploration and discovery. He proposed that curriculum should be organized in a spiral fashion, with key concepts being introduced at a basic level and then revisited and expanded upon in subsequent years.

Bruner’s ideas were further developed by educational theorist David Ausubel, who emphasized the importance of meaningful learning and the role of prior knowledge in the learning process. Ausubel’s work laid the foundation for the implementation of spiral curriculum in various educational settings.

Principles of Spiral Curriculum

There are several key principles that underlie the spiral curriculum approach. One principle is the idea of scaffolding, which involves providing students with the support and guidance they need to master new concepts. By gradually increasing the complexity of tasks and concepts, students are able to build upon their existing knowledge and skills.

Another principle of spiral curriculum is the concept of interleaving, which involves mixing different topics and skills together in a non-linear fashion. This approach helps students make connections between different concepts and see the underlying patterns and relationships between them.

Implementation of Spiral Curriculum in Art Education

In art education, spiral curriculum can be implemented by structuring the curriculum around key artistic concepts and skills that are revisited and reinforced over time. For example, students may start by learning basic drawing techniques in elementary school, and then continue to develop and refine these skills in middle and high school.

Spiral curriculum in art education also involves exposing students to a variety of artistic styles, movements, and techniques. By exploring different artistic traditions and approaches, students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the artistic process and expand their creative repertoire.

Benefits of Spiral Curriculum in Art Education

There are several benefits to implementing spiral curriculum in art education. One benefit is that it allows students to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of art by revisiting key concepts and skills over time. This approach helps students build a strong foundation of artistic knowledge that they can continue to expand upon throughout their academic career.

Spiral curriculum in art education also promotes creativity and critical thinking skills by encouraging students to explore different artistic styles and techniques. By engaging with a variety of artistic traditions, students are able to develop their own unique artistic voice and approach to creating art.

Criticisms of Spiral Curriculum in Art Education

Despite its many benefits, spiral curriculum in art education is not without its criticisms. Some educators argue that the repetitive nature of spiral curriculum can be boring and uninspiring for students, leading to disengagement and lack of motivation.

Another criticism of spiral curriculum in art education is that it may not allow for enough flexibility and individualization in the learning process. Some students may excel in certain areas of art and struggle in others, making it challenging to meet the needs of all students within a structured spiral curriculum framework.

In conclusion, spiral curriculum is a valuable educational approach that can be effectively implemented in art education to promote deeper understanding, creativity, and critical thinking skills. By structuring the curriculum around key artistic concepts and skills that are revisited and reinforced over time, students are able to develop a strong foundation of artistic knowledge that will serve them well throughout their academic and artistic careers.