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Exploring the Theories and Concepts of Curriculum and Instruction

Apr 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Apr 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

In his curriculum theory, John Kerr (2004) defines curriculum as all the learning activities planned and controlled by the school. He explains that this can be done individually or in a group, both in school and outside the school. Another theory defines curriculum as the entirety of learning experiences offered to students to provide them with knowledge and general skills (Walker, 1994). Besides, another curriculum theory attributes curriculum to permanent subjects such as reading, writing, grammar, and mathematics that provide the learners with knowledge (Guilfoyle, 2006). Considering the above definitions, curriculum refers to all learning activities that embody the learner with essential knowledge. This entails reading and writing, games and sports, and guiding and counseling.

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Instruction refers to the criteria used by the teacher to deliver the curriculum to the learners. It differs from the curriculum in many ways. In the first place, the curriculum comes before instruction since the teacher can only deliver an already developed aspect of the curriculum, such as the syllabus. Moreover, the curriculum guides learning, while instruction is how learning will occur. This implies that after the curriculum has been planned, instructions are used to carry it out. The curriculum sets out the when what and why of learning, while instruction only addresses how in the learning process.

According to Eisner and Vallance (2004), the fundamental concepts of curriculum entail self-actualization, whereby students discover and develop their identity. This can include talents and or her ability in various fields. Moreover, the cognitive process orientation concept provides the learner with cognitive skills which applies to solving many intellectual problems. The knowledge-centered curriculum provides the learner with knowledge that enhances the learner’s ability to make correct decisions at many different levels.

The society-based curriculum concept helps serve society, which is the main role of learning (Longstreet and Shane, 1993). The knowledge acquired by the learners is relayed back to society in that as they get experience in fields such as medicine, engineering, and education, they use the experience acquired to serve humanity and society at large. Besides, the Social Reconstructionist concept, where schools are expected to champion social change, is vital in promoting power among the learners. Schools bring people from different backgrounds, tribes, religions, and races together. This helps water down the myths and misconceptions among various groups, hence promoting unity among the learners. The learners understand each other better and shun social vices such as segregation, tribalism, and religious discrimination. Lastly, the rationalist academic concept enables the learners to use, apply and appreciate the ideas acquired from different disciplines. This can help the learner develop a more comprehensive idea that can be useful when implemented.

From the essay, it is evident that numerous theories try to define curriculum. Most definitions stem from the fact that curriculum refers to a learning process. A teacher acts as the intermediary between the curriculum and the learner. They are responsible for passing the information entailed in the curriculum to the learner through instructions. Therefore, the teachers play an important role in administering the curriculum, and thus there is a need to incorporate them in developing the curriculum. Lastly, various concepts of the curriculum aim to improve the students’ social power as they advocate for the unity of the students and their relationship with the teachers.


Kerr, J. F. (2004). Changing the curriculum. London: University of London P.
Walker, M., & the University of the Western Cape. (1994). Curriculum development: Issues and cases. Bellville, Cape Town: Academic Development Centre, University of the Western Cape.
Guilfoyle, C. (November 01, 2006). NCLB: Is There Life Beyond Testing? Educational Leadership, 64, 3, 8-13.
Eisner, E. W., & Vallance, E. (1974). Conflicting conceptions of curriculum. Berkeley, Calif: McCutchan Pub. Corp.
Longstreet, W. S., & Shane, H. G. (1992). Curriculum for a new millennium. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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