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Relationship Between Curriculum and Instruction

1. Define curriculum and instruction. What is the relationship between these terms?

2. Discuss the contributions of John Dewey to the development of curriculum thought or practice.

3. Outline the major beliefs of the following schools of philosophy: reconstructionism, progressivism, essentialism, and perennialism. Compare and contrast.

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1. Define curriculum and instruction. What is the relationship between these terms?

The quick answer is that curriculum addresses what the students will be taught while instruction addresses how the students will be taught. Curriculum is derived from the Latin word currere meaning "to run or progress forward". In the educational setting, it refers to the course that children "run" through/experience as they make their way toward adulthood. Curriculum includes the activities, goals, subject matter, technology, and student interests that will be included in the learning environment. The goals and objects, scope and sequence, and guidelines are all part of the curriculum.

There is significant debate in the educational system regarding what the curriculum should be. Is academic knowledge (facts and theory) more important than technical knowledge (practical and applied)? In a specific sense, is English and History more important than shop class and home economics? Throughout history, the educational system has also been used as a socializing agent whereby students are indoctrinated into a belief and value system. In these cases, school is used as a social change agent. The curriculum is designed in order to mold students thinking in areas such as ethnicity, religion, a shared national myth and many different agendas including: the homosexual agenda, gun rights, abortion rights, white supremacy, etc. In these cases the curriculum is created to ignore or minimize facts, technique, and practical learning and is written in such a manner that the affective, moral and ethical aspects of thought are targeted.

Instruction refers to the way in which the content will be delivered. There are various questions that educators consider in order to design instruction.

• For whom is the instruction being designed? In other words educators need to discern who their student audience is in order to tailor the instruction to best suit their needs and socio-economic situation.
• What should students learn or be able to do? In other words, what exactly do I want my students to learn and who will they show that they have learned it? If this step is not conducted then "education" will simply be one day after another of random events, readings and quizzes that are not connected to any plan.
• How is the subject or information best learned? Teachers must ask themselves what environment they should create and what learning experiences they should design in order to best teach the information. Should students read the information, memorize it, do research, make a presentation, build something, be involved in a debate, etc.
• Once the information has been experienced teachers must determine how to test or assess to what degree it has been learned.

Assessments can be in class questions, quizzes, tests, written assignments, research papers, presentations, etc.

Relationship between curriculum and instruction:

There is an important healthy tension between curriculum design and instructional design. It can be ...

Solution Summary

This post is a discussion of the similarities and differences between curriculum and instruction. The impact of John Dewey on education and the educational philosophies of reconstructionism, progressivism, essentialism and perennialism are discussed. Over 1,750 words of original text along with sources for further study and citation.