Some of the different curriculum theories include social meliorism, John Dewey's theory, social efficiency and developmentalism. Curriculum theories are used to shape and develop curriculum. Since there is such a broad field of curriculum studies, there are a variety of theories used to define the learning process of children.
Those that believe that education reforms and changes society for the better are social meliorists. This type of curriculum theory is based on the individual student's intelligence and how to improve the intelligence by using education. The person's future was not predetermined by his or her race or socioeconomic status but, rather, by his or her education or lack thereof.
John Dewey's theory of curriculum focuses on the idea that education should incorporate how a child views his or her world. This theory uses four instincts to categorize a child's behavior. These instincts are expressive, constructive, artistic and social. His theory connects the subjects that are taught to a child's every day life.
The social efficiency theorist's goal is to educate children according to his or her proficiency. In this educational model, each child is given an intelligence quotient, or IQ, test. The scores from that test determine the course of education for that child.
In developmentalism, children are educated according to their emotional and behavioral qualities. Children's characteristics, rather than their IQ or instincts, are the basis of the curriculum with this type of curriculum theory.