A common misconception is that the curriculum dictates exactly what and when a child is taught. In reality, and in more recent revisions of the curriculum, it actually shapes and influences what a child must learn in order to help them become a functioning member of society. For many, the curriculum is merely a selection of standards by which we must measure our nation’s children’s progress – instruction is the methods implemented to carry out those lessons. Therefore, the relationship between curriculum and instruction must be close but still kept as fluid as possible. It is clear that these two aspects of education fit together in an intimate way and this is demonstrated through the daily referral to words such as ‘planning’ and ‘teaching’ which align to the curriculum and instruction paradigms (Srivastava, 2005, p119). It is impossible to teach efficient and effective lessons without planning sufficiently beforehand and as such, it is impossible to have strong instruction without a strong understanding of the curriculum.
The idea of the curriculum is still a relatively recent one and as such, many misinformed people believe it to be the program which all children follow in sync, however it is more closely identified as a set of standards which the government has laid out and expect children to be able to live up to by particular stages in their education. As such, instruction is guided by curriculum but not dictated by it. Instruction is, arguably, the more important in terms of day to day application of education and learning but it is curriculum which flavours it and fundamentally, instruction could not exist without it. From that point of view, the relationship between the dual aspects of learning is extremely important.
Generally speaking, the belief within the educational system is that curriculum and instruction are fundamentally linked. It is important to add a healthy balance of assessment with them too in order to ensure that the instruction is aiding the implementation of the curriculum. It is said that “Overemphasis on any of the three elements can lead to an imbalance that ultimately harms the student” (Fiore, 2004, p48) and in practice, whilst all three should be placed in equal measure, they should all work together to enhance learning and to monitor improvement which both demonstrates excellence in teaching and learning but also actively works towards improving the child’s confidence too. It would be a flawed educational system if students were all taught in sync, according to the curriculum as it would fundamentally diminish their progress on an individual basis. Each child is an individual and so their needs must be met in accordance with the curriculum by implementing specific instruction that works with their progress, rather than against it.
In conclusion, it is clear that curriculum and instruction must have a strong but fluid relationship so that both fulfil their roles successfully. One cannot exist without the other; teaching must be a healthy balance between curriculum and instruction in order to best meet the needs of every individual student, to prepare each student for the real world that awaits them outside of school, and also to guide teachers in which areas to cover and how best to go about providing children with an education that best benefits them.
Fiore, D.J. (2004). Introduction to Educational Administration: standards, theories and practices. New York: Eye on Education.
Srivastava, D.S. (2005). Curriculum and Instruction. Delhi: Isha Books.