A user recently posted this question about the definition of "curriculum." The user was curious why the question was closed, and I'm posting this question to hopefully provide answers.

2 Answers 2


I voted to close the question as "unclear", because I have no idea what the OP is asking about. I have never heard of a curriculum as being described as a list of topics, never mind a prescriptive and/or descriptive one. The question in the body seems to be a yes/no question, while the titular question seems to require a pretty broad answer what a curriculum is. Neither seem a good fit and I think if he unclear part was clarified the good part of the question would emerge.

I did not vote the question down, because I think there is a good question in there, it just needs clarification.

I did not leave a comment to the OP because I thought the close reason was pretty clear and I saw that the OP he has 100k+ rep on the SE network so I figured if he was confused he would ask on meta, chat, or the comments.


To me, the question was closed for a few reasons:

  1. It is unclear what is actually being asked. It appears very abstract and philosophical in nature, which is typically not the type of question asked on these forums.
  2. The question is also only tangentially related to academia. The concept of a curriculum exists in education of all levels; elementary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate, certifications, online trainings, etc.
  3. The question has a pretty simple answer. A curriculum is:

    1: the courses offered by an educational institution

    2: a set of courses constituting an area of specialization

    source: m-w.com

    It's not clear to me what your different subcategorizations even mean, and it's even less clear why I would want to begin a discussion using your classification scheme.

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    As one of the close-voters, I concur with #1 and #3, though not #2, since curriculum design is definitely a big part of the life of many academics.
    – jakebeal
    May 18, 2015 at 20:48
  • @jakebeal - Definitely. It smelled a bit like boat programming to me, though, which is what I was trying to get at. You're free to disagree :)
    – eykanal
    May 18, 2015 at 20:49
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    I don't understand what is unclear in the question, but @jakebeal participated in the closing after he made it clear that he objected to the question because it came from a person who he believed had been guilty of writing a "rant" on a different occasion, when that other occasion and its topic were not mentioned in this question that jakebeale helped to close. That is the ad hominem fallacy. As nearly as I can tell, the item he considered a "rant" was a paper I have not written but that I said I may write. I asked what publication I should submit it to. I wonder if jakebeale.... May 19, 2015 at 0:25
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    ....thinks that asking what publication would be a good place for it constitutes a "rant"? May 19, 2015 at 0:25
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    So if a question is posted by someone whose beliefs jakebeale objects to, and those beliefs are not mentioned in the question, jakebeale will say that that question that does not mention those beliefs is a "rant". May 19, 2015 at 0:27
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    @MichaelHardy I'm afraid that you are making a number of incorrect assumptions about my actions. My key reasons for down-voting and voting to close are spelled out in the eykanal's answer here, as modified by my comment (I was writing much the same when he beat me to it). I probably could have been more polite, but my basic issue with the question is as spelled above. When you've spoken more clearly and constructively, I've happily voted you up (e.g., I am your up-vote on this answer).
    – jakebeal
    May 19, 2015 at 1:17
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    @jakebeal : I don't think I'm merely making an "assumption" when I've read your question that says "Is this about your same rant" etc. Calling a paper you haven't read a "rant", and doing so in a context that doesn't even mention that paper or the earlier question that mentions it, and bringing up that earlier question out of the blue in a context to which it is not relavent, makes certain conclusions about your behavior reasonable. May 19, 2015 at 2:43
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    That I may have been thinking about the later topic for reason related to the earlier topic is my own business and not related to how anyone should judge the later question. It says "This question is bad regardless of its content because it's posted by the same person who on another occasion said he would write a paper that I would judge to be a 'rant'." May 19, 2015 at 2:43
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    "I don't understand what is unclear in the question". I didn't participate in the close vote but what's unclear to me is how your question differs from "What is the dictionary definition of 'curriculum'?" You surely can't be asking what the dictionary definition is, because you'd've just looked it up in a dictionary. So you must be asking something else -- but what? I can't figure out what so, to me, the question is unclear. May 21, 2015 at 12:10

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