Thanks much to both of you for your replies.
Sunday Crepes, the first link from the BBC was interesting. I think that what you are getting at is that play is more important than a curriculum. I think play most definitely has an important place, but I am not an organized mama and I am not good at creating something out of nothing, hence my need for a curriculum. I need to be guided. I thrive on basic structure and will not be able to teach my children what they need to know without a plan and the means laid out to do it, if that makes sense. I realize that here, where Unschooling is the norm, this may not be a popular view, but I know myself and I cannot set off on this homeschooling adventure without a curriculum in place.
The second link did not work and I had no luck finding the article/video you mention after an intial search. Sounds interesting though!
MoominMama, provocative thoughts there. Thank you for that. Perhaps it is a bit simplistic to view test scores as the sole results of a curriculum. It seems like a starting point though, if for no other reason than that it might help me determine the philosophical standpoint of the Finns or the Japanese by looking at their curriculum.
One thing that interests me about the Japanese educational philoshopy is the concept of mastery. My dd is currently in 3rd grade at the PS and their method of spiraling through math, in particular, is making me insane. I feel like she's getting bits and pieces but no mastery and no internalizing of knowledge. I also dislike the exposure to so many different topics when I feel she would be better served by exploring a favorite topic in depth and to mastery.
As you can see, I am in the initial stages of articulating my own philosophy of education, but as I said above, I a mama who will need structure to make HS work.
If anyone can recommend a curriculum based on those further thoughts or if there are books/websites/chat groups I need to be involved in to further my research, that would be of immense help.
Thank you again,