This article draws together two strands of recent work in the philosophy of education. One elaborates the implications of a semiotic theory of learning. The other draws upon economic thinking, and has a particular focus on the parameters of human decision-making over time. The article draws on a framework grounded in the commonalities that underpin this convergence, bringing together strands from a number of areas of academic inquiry. The authors argue that curricular practices are for the long term, and have an importance at least equal to, and usually greater than, the environmental priority of the moment.