Behaviour And ‘Curriculum’ Are Linked (Two Horses Pulling ONE Carriage)

I don’t know about you, but when I hear conversations about behaviour, they seem almost separate to conversations around curriculum. Let me tell you something that I thought was awesome. The word “curriculum” comes from the Latin word, “currere”, which means “to run” (as in to run a race course). Linked to this is the word “curricle”, which is a “light, open, two-wheeled carriage pulled by two horses side-by-side.” (according to Sheikh Google). It’s the chariot that’s used to run the course.

Curricle - WHS HBL Jane Austen
(This is a ‘curricle’. The 18th century outfits are optional.)

The reason I find the origin of the word “curriculum” so profound is that it pretty much sums up how discussions around curriculum are framed – usually talking about only one of the horses being used to run the race. Let me explain.

Let’s set the scene first. You (the teacher, AKA “Head Honcho”) are the one driving this curricle. Your students are the passengers. You’re presumably trying to reach a destination (and please, for the love of God, be clear what that is… it’s results, by the way) and not just doing it for the intrinsic pleasure of driving this carriage – and even if you are, your passengers are certainly on the curricle for a purpose. Finally, the two horses are ‘lessons’ and ‘behaviour’.

Usually when we discuss curriculum, we’re discussing lessons and the things that go into supporting excellent lessons – things like lesson plans, schemes of work, knowledge transfer, learning journeys, assessment, etc. The problem is that if you think that this alone is going to get you to your destination, then you’re mistaken. That’s only one of the horses. Getting behaviour right is the other horse you have to work on.

When discussions take place around ‘curriculum’, you can’t ignore the fact that getting behaviour right is part of it. This means that within discussions of differentiation, challenge, ‘Do Now’ activities and the like, you can’t ignore all the different things that you have to do in order to get behaviour right – e.g. brushing up on inclusion plans, engaging with parents, taking an interest in the students, doing your job as a form tutor, providing things to do in the wider life of the school. You know all that “other” stuff that you think “isn’t part of my job”, but you’re being “forced” to do it (such as checking uniform each morning, delivering PSHE, or correcting bad manners)? Guess what? It’s integral to getting your curriculum right, in the truest sense of the term. On the other hand, just having excellent behaviour in lessons isn’t going to get you there either. You can have the quietest, most well-mannered students in the world, but if your lessons are inadequate and you’re not teaching them the right things, then they’re still not going to reach their destinations. All of this stuff is linked together to create the carriage that’s going to drive your students forward. It’s all part of your curricle.

Excellent lessons and excellent behaviour are two horses that compliment and support each other in your overall goal. It’s essential to get them pulling in the same direction so that your students can reach their destination. When both work well together, they will get to that destination more effectively than if you were just relying on one of them. The whole package (horses, along with the carriage and wheels, etc) works together toward one goal and (crucially) you as the teacher are the driving force that is meant to be in control of them and leading them to where they’re headed (the horses, that is). Unless you firmly take control of both these horses and steer them to where you need to go, they’ll steer all over the place. In that case, your passengers might still get to their destination by sheer random luck, but that will be despite you, not of because of you. Have I milked this metaphor enough?

So I hope you get it. Curriculum isn’t just lessons. It’s behaviour as well. Both need to be discussed, planned, taught and monitored. Therefore, the next time you have discussions around curriculum, make sure you’re discussing both its horses (and drop some Latin in there for good measure).


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