This paper approaches the concept of curriculum design from a philosophical perspective, arguing that the concept of "design" in curriculum is fundamentally misleading. The paper begins with a series of comments questioning the assumption that curriculum design involves a set of discrete skills or procedures in which one may attain expertise, like skating, welding, or filling out a tax return. The concept of curriculum design is equivocal on the distinction between the intrinsic value and the practical success of a curriculum, with the result that questions of evaluation and implementation are often allowed to determine content, without adequate consideration of what is educationally worthwhile. Curriculum design is an open and flexible domain due to uncertainty and disagreement over ends, definitions, and cause and effect. Counterarguments are offered to four of the most commonly accepted assumptions behind the curriculum design concept: (1) that the ultimate aims of education are not the direct responsibility of the curriculum designer; (2) that curriculum design is an applied science; (3) that designing curriculum is a skill or set of skills; and (4) that there is a determinate list of things that a curriculum design should include. The most important omission from all curriculum textbooks is a rigorous examination of the aims and nature of schooling and education. (TE)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (Guelph, Ontario, Canada, June 1-4, 1984).