Towards a Curriculum of the Heart: Thinking, Growing, Feeling, and Connecting in Contemporary Education

Heather Allison Coe


In this paper, I explore the tensions embedded within my experiences as both a learner and a teacher as they relate to curriculum theory, current conceptions of curriculum, and contemporary education. I argue that students growing up today suffer from an unbalanced and unhealthy education system, characterized by a curriculum that is becoming increasingly standardized and impersonal. To help regain balance and to provide students with a more holistic education, I propose a new conception of curriculum: a curriculum of the heart. Similar to the four chambers in the human heart, four main components are essential to a balanced curriculum, education, and life: living, thriving, feeling, and connecting. Within this conception of curriculum, each component serves an important purpose, contributing to students’ overall holistic development and learning. Just as the heart is at the center of the pulmonary system, the curriculum is at the heart of the education system. If there is too much pressure or focus on one component, the system cannot function properly. If this imbalance continues, students will not receive a well-rounded education and will suffer accordingly. Schools have the potential to provide positive and fulfilling lived experiences for students, but must remain conscious that they too, unintentionally, have the potential to accomplish quite the opposite. It is the task of curriculum theorists, teachers, and administrators to initiate and sustain a dialogue about how to provide the best experiences for students and to implement changes that will help them grow in happy, healthy, and holistic ways.


curriculum theorizing; conceptions of curriculum; holistic education

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Open Journal Systems. ISSN: 1449-8855