what i understand by the term curriculum and the term instruction.

There are various meaning of the term curriculum as presented by meaning experts. The term curriculum is not difficult to define but each scholar tends to look at the term from certain angle.

Schools exist in society for the main purpose of transmitting existing knowledge, culture and traditions of the society to her learners.

This is necessary in order to ensure the continuity of that society. From time to time however, members or society are concerned with what the schools are for and what must be taught in the school. Thus, members of the society do come together to take decisions on what schools teach to the learners. The totality of the learning experience in schools is what is called curriculum. However, because of varying perspectives from which different people are bound to look at the same things.

Meaning of curriculum

The word curriculum comes from the Latin word “currere”, which means:

  • To run a course, that is, a course of study which contains a body of subject matter approved for teaching by society in schools. However different experts view curriculum from viewpoint other that the course of study definitions. Here are some of them;
  • Curriculum is a structured series of learning outcomes. It therefore tries to see curriculum as an “input” which results in a certain “output”. Another definition says: Curriculum is an organized set of formal educational or training intentions.

The emphasis of this view is clearly seen, from the input perspectives. That is what the school teaches or intend to teach is organized according to some set rules. For example there is a principle which says that what is known should be taught first before proceeding to what is not known.

  • Curriculum is a deliberate, systematic and planned attempt undertaken by the school to modify or change the behaviors of the citizen of a particular society.
  • This view appears to be more elaborate in explaining the term curriculum than the others. Although the input-output paradigm is subsumed in this definition. It is clear that what the school teaches must be deliberately planned and arranged in a particular way to bring about the desired outcome of changing the citizen behavior.
  • Curriculum is the totality of the learning experience organizes for students under the supports of the school. Curriculum is all-inclusive in nature that is syllabus, scheme of work, course of study and lesson note.
  • Curriculum is define as the planned and unplanned concept, content, skills work habits, means of assessment, attitudes and instructional strategies taught in the classroom and the variety of school activities in and out of class that influence present and future academic, social, emotional and physical growth of students.

Curriculum is more specific than the standards. Whereas standards usually describe appropriate content and processes for a range of ages or grade levels, curriculum specifies what should happen during a shorter period of time, such as a year, quarter, or a month.

Kinds of curriculum

  • Social,
  • Information processing,
  • Personalist,
  • behavioral.

Types of curriculum

  1. Over, explicit, or written curriculum: refers to a curriculum document, texts, films, and supportive teaching materials that are overtly chosen to support the intentional instructional agenda of a school.
  2. Societal curriculum: cortes define this curriculum as the massive, ongoing, informal curriculum of family, peer groups, neighborhoods, mass media and other socializing forces that educate all of us throughout our lives.
  3. The hidden or covert curriculum: it implies by the various structure and nature of schools, much of what revolves around daily routines. The hidden curriculum refers to the kind of learning’s children derive from the very nature and organizational design of the public schools, as well as from the behaviors and attitudes of teachers and administrators.
  4. The null curriculum: that which we do not teach, thus giving students the message that message that these elements are not important in their educational experiences or in our society. The null curriculum is simply not taught in schools.
  5. Phantom curriculum: the encultural of students into the predominate meta-culture or acculturating students into narrower or generational subcultures.
  6. Concomitant curriculum: what is taught, or emphasized at home or those experiences that are part of a family’s experiences or related experiences sanctioned by the family.
  7. Rhetorical curriculum: these comprised from ideas offered by policymakers, schools officials, administrators, or politicians.
  8. Curriculum-in-use: the formal curriculum comprises those things in textbooks, and content and concepts in the district curriculum guides. However, those formal elements are frequently not taught. The curriculum-in-use is the actual curriculum that’s delivered and presented by each teacher.
  9. Received curriculum: those things that students actually take out of classroom, that is those concepts and content that are truly learned and remembered.
  10. The internal curriculum: processes, content, knowledge combined with the experiences and realities of the learner to create new knowledge. While educators should be aware of this curriculum, they have little control over the internal curriculum since it is unique to each student.
  11. The electronic curriculum: through searching the internet for information, or through using e-forms of communication. Either formal or informal, and inherent lessons may be overt or covert, good or bad, correct or incorrect depending on ones’ views.
  12. Competency curriculum: consists of competencies. Assessment and certification of achievement of the competencies is sequentially integrated into each year of the curriculum culminating with a competency transcript upon graduation.

Levels of curriculum

  • Primary
  • Secondary: general academic; occupational/vocational
  • Tertiary: general academic; professional

Difference between curriculum and other related terminologies

  • Curriculum and syllabus

Most frequently people tend to equate the word syllabus with curriculum. Form above explanations curriculum is wider in scope than syllabus. A syllabus is the content of the school subject offered in the school, and it is a sub-set of the curriculum. Such as mathematics, English language, physics and so on.

A syllabus normally contain what students will learn in the various school subjects in a year or for a longer period of schooling leading to certification.

It is normally prepared by the teachers but a body such as West African Examination Council (WEAC) or the National Examination council (NECO). At the university level the Nation University Commission presents syllabi to all Nigerian university.

  • Curriculum and Scheme of work

The curriculum of a school is not the scheme of work. As the name implies, a scheme of work is a breakdown of the contents of what student are expected to learn in a given period. In other words, a scheme of work is the systematic arrangement of subject matter and activities within a given time period, such as a term or a semester. Whatever the learners are expected to learn are broken down into instructional units (which include activities) and are normally prepared by the classroom teacher. It is usually a guide in planning what is to be done per week over a term or semester and for the three terms or two semesters in an academic year as the case may be.

  • Curriculum and course of study

A course of study is an educational programme leading to the award of a certificate at the end of the programme for a particular set of learners.

For example, a Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) is a course of study. Another example is a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) programme in curriculum studies, in a Teacher Education programme. Another example still is the Master of Science Programme (M.Sc.) in Physics offered in a Faculty of Science in Nigerian Universities. A course of study therefor refers mainly to a programme of learning that are offered to students with various course contents at the end of which they are awarded a Certificate indicating the type of course of study they had undergone.

  • Curriculum and lesson note

A lesson note (or note of lesson; or lesson plan) is a guide for teachers to assist them in the orderly presentation of a lesson to the learners in order to facilitate learning. Teachers draw the plan for teaching a particular lesson from the scheme of work. That is, just as the scheme of work is breakdown of the syllabus so the lesson note is a breakdown of the scheme of work into daily lessons, which are planned by the teacher. In this plan, the teacher explains the step by step procedure which he/she would follow in presenting the lesson to the learners. It usually contains the activities expected of the students as well as the teachers during the period of the lesson. The lesson note (or note of lesson, or lesson plan) is therefore not curriculum. The classroom is the implementation point of the programme of learning, which is just one of the three major components of the curriculum. Thus, the lesson note is an important aspect of curriculum implementation, especially the programme of learning component of the curriculum.

Purpose of school in curriculum

Schools are separated institutions by society for the purpose of transmitting the existing body of knowledge, culture and traditions of the people of a given society to her inhabitants. Schools are important because they produce boys and girls, men and women that are prepared to live and be integrated into the society. Schools provide manpower, as well as training in character and the virtues which society holds dear.

The school is therefore both an agent of constancy and transformation in society.

The educated citizenry produced by schools are expected to go back to the society and contribute to its growth and development. But, the school cannot carry out this task without having an adequate and appropriate curriculum designed after due consultation with relevant and appropriate members of the society. Hence the saying that the school and society should both be involved in the curriculum planning process.

Teacher self-sufficiency and the role of curriculum

The dilemma for districts is to strike a balance between teacher self-sufficiency and curriculum specificity. The diagram below indicates that teachers will have less self-sufficiency when the curriculum is more specific. With no curriculum, teachers have complete self-sufficiency to teach whatever they want. On the other hand, a very specific curriculum that indicates what should be taught, how it should be taught, and when it should be taught leaves teachers with less self-sufficiency.

Generally, districts have given teachers more self-sufficiency with little curriculum guidance. High-stakes testing and standards then enter the picture. Districts try to use the high-stakes testing and standards as a basis for limiting teachers’ self-sufficiency so the appropriate content is addressed. The tool of curriculum was little used in the past; if it was used, it was constructed in such a way that it did little to limit teacher self-sufficiency, and the curriculum emaciated. Now, districts don’t see curriculum as the tool to make sure there is balance when addressing standards and high-stakes tests. District leadership may not want to be more specific about the curriculum because of the

Infringement on teacher self-sufficiency. Yet they want the standards and high-stakes tests covered. Instead of using curriculum to decide what is most important to teach and learn, including standards and tests, districts abdicate their responsibility by saying teachers must cover what is on the test, and the rest is left up to teacher discretion.

To bring all students to high standards, districts need to examine their stance on curriculum. We know most students can learn if they are taught.  

Curriculums purpose is to help teachers understand and deliver to students what is important for students to learn, and districts need to decide what this is. Curriculum is the tool available to balance competing priorities. The Balanced Curriculum process provides a template for a district-developed curriculum, within which teachers have quite a bit of flexibility.

Nature of curriculum in school

An expert in curriculum called Tyler (1949) was among the first to suggest four fundamental questions which must be answered when talking about the nature of curriculum in schools: These are:

  1. What educational purpose should the school seek to attain


  1. What educational experiences can be provided to attain these purposes? (i.e. the activities, the subject-matter etc);
  2. How can these educational experiences be organized effectively to achieve these purposes? (E.g. Teacher-centered or child-centered learning);
  3. How can we determine whether or not the expected objectives have been achieved? (i.e. using tests, performance observations and other forms of evaluation).

These four fundamental questions from the core of the curriculum development process. By its very nature therefore curriculum cannot be said have been presented until objectives, contents evaluation procedures are clearly specified.

Important of curriculum in school

It is clear from what has been written so far, that curriculum is the very soul of the school system. There can be no school if there is no curriculum. Curriculum is the reason for existence of the school. Schools develop their own curriculum, sometimes, from existing planned curriculum, in order to meet its own peculiar needs.

For example, in school where truancy is very common, the authorities of the school (which includes the Parents/Teachers Association) may design a package to attract students to school so as to stem the tide of truancy. As the plan used by the school to implement its educational programmes, curriculum is the very vigorous software without which building and other facilities, (as well as teachers too) will have nothing to do in the school.

In conclusion the word curriculum must be fully understood by educationists so as to avoid confusion which in turn will affect what goes on in schools. The clarifications that have been made in the unit have cleared the confusions. Curriculum must be understood from the totality of programmes or learning experiences organized for learners under the supports of the schools. Thus, the term curriculum must not be restricted to syllabus, scheme of work or other related terms. These basic concepts must be understood for meaningful implementation of the school curriculum.


Instruction is a vital for education; it is define as the transfer of learning from one person to another. This is an activity that has to do with imparting knowledge or skill from an expert to a less experience person.

Instruction is the facilitation of another’s learning. Instructors in primary and secondary institutions are called teachers, and they direct the education of students and might draw on many subjects like reading, writing, mathematics, science and history. Instructors in post-secondary institutions might be called teachers, instructors, or professor depending on the type of institution and primarily teach only their specific discipline.

Instruction was define towards the direction of the learning process. Variety of models of instruction are developed, each designed to produce classroom learning.

Joyce et al (2003) describe four categories of models of teaching/instruction

  1. Behavioral system
  2. Information processing
  3. Personal development
  4. Social development

That summarizes the vast majority of instructional methods. Each models differ in the specific type or measure of learning that is target. Another important point is that the different models and methods of instruction have been developed based on specific interpretations of concepts and principles of teaching and learning.

It is important to understand the concepts principles upon which they are based.

Ralph waldo emerson said if you learn only methods, you will be tied to your method, but if you learn principles you devise your own methods.

In conclusion instruction been the purposeful guidance of the learning process, is complex and can take many forms. It is vitally important classroom activity, but must be considered in the context of such factors as measures of desired student learning including overlapping objectives taught to objective tested, controlling student behavior i.e. classroom management activities, individual differences among students, and school processes and characteristics. 


Alazi, O (1990). The Nigeria New Curriculum: Issue and Insights. Jos:

Ehindero Press Ltd.

Bishop, G. (1981) ‘Curriculum development, Textbook for students’

Hong Kong: Macmillan Company.

Johnson, M. (1967) Definitions and models in Curriculum Theory;

Education Theory: 17 (1), 125-140.

Onwuka, U. (1985) Curriculum Development for Africa. Onitsha:

Africana – Feb Pub. Ltd.

Tanner, D. & Tanner N.(1980) Curriculum Development: Theory and

Practice. N.Y. Macmillan Publicity Company.

Ornstein C. Allan & Hunkins F.P. (1998) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Saylor, J. et al (1974) Planning Curriculum for Schools, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Shiundu, J. S. Omulando, S. J. (1992) Curriculum Theory and Practice in

Kenya Nairobi: Oxford University Press.

Tyler, Ralph W. (1949) Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction.

Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Walton J. (1971) Curriculum Organization and Design. Ward Lock Educational.










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