Defining the word curriculum is no easy matter. Perhaps the most common definition derives from the word’s Latin root, which means ‘racecourse’. Indeed, for many students, the school curriculum is a race to be run, a series of obstacles or hurdles (subjects) to be passed. It is important to keep in mind that schools in Western civilization have been heavily influenced since the fourth century BC by the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and that the word curriculum has been used historically to describe the subjects taught during the classical period of Greek civilization. The interpretation of the word curriculum broadened in the twentieth century to include subjects other than the classics. Today, school documents, newspaper articles, committee reports and many academic textbooks refer to any and all subjects offered or prescribed as ‘the curriculum of the school’. In the 1970s Pinar (1974) produced a different term, ‘currere’ – the Latin

infinitive of curriculum, because he wanted to highlight the running (or lived experience). He has subsequently elaborated on this term (Pinar et al., 1995; Pinar, 2004) and has emphasized its value in self-study via an autobiographical method. One useful starting point when studying what is curriculum is to consider

three levels, namely the ‘planned curriculum’, the ‘enacted curriculum’ and the ‘experienced curriculum’ (Marsh and Willis, 2007). The planned curriculum is all about what knowledge is of most worth – the

important goals and objectives. Campbell (2006) refers to this as ‘curricular authority’ – the legitimacy of standardized curricular guidelines. The enacted curriculum deals with professional judgements about the type

of curriculum to be implemented and evaluated. Teachers have to judge the appropriate pedagogical knowledge to use. As noted by Campbell (2006), teachers’ professional authority in enacting the curriculum may cause conflicts with the planned curriculum. Harris (2005) describes some of the contestation that can occur between a curriculum plan (for example a history syllabus) and how it is implemented (enacted).