Thursday, July 28, 2016

Curriculum and Instruction Should Sync

In education, curriculum and instruction are two faces of a same coin. Curriculum is ‘What to teach’ and Instruction is ‘how to teach’. They are inextricably linked and influence each other and they must be compatible at all cost. If the instruction does not suit the curriculum or if the curriculum does not favor the instruction, learning process is bound to see some setbacks. When a change is underway, both must be considered. Leaving any one of them behind or taking any one of them ahead could create an incongruity between the two which could have negative backwash on teaching and learning process.

The MOE’s recent training of teachers on transformative pedagogy is a positive move towards bringing shift in the teaching trend from the teacher-fronted teaching to child-cantered teaching. The new teaching technique has its roots in the constructivist and social learning theory which are based on the premise that children learn by constructing their own knowledge by adding onto his previous knowledge through positive interactions with teachers, parents, friends and other social agents. This approach places children at the heart of learning process and allow them to take control of their learning as opposed to teacher-centric learning where teacher takes the centre stage.

While the initiative has come as a positive change, it has sharpened just one blade of a scissor. The present curriculum to a large extent is content-overloaded and it gives little or practically no room for teachers to practice any innovative teaching technique. The mandate to cover the vast syllabus in an academic year puts teachers to race against time for syllabus completion. It exerts pressure on teachers to move with undue pace through the curriculum and encouraging a ‘tick list’ approach to teaching. It has led to less flexibility and creativity and to a more slavish and often frantic gallop through the curriculum. It exerts a dominant influence on teaching and learning that other important areas such as children’s development of higher order thinking skills, nurturing pupils’ creativity, character, communication skills, problem solving and exploration could not be emphasized.

Given the difference in the nature of curriculum and instruction, there is a need to make alterations in the existing curriculum so as to measure up with the new instructional method. Like the instruction, the curriculum needs to be viewed and designed from the constructivist point of view. It needs to be grounded in the principles of constructivism and social learning theory. The current textbooks are crammed with information making the overall curriculum congested and difficult for both teachers and students. A constructivist based curriculum should provide space, time and opportunity for both teacher and students for meaningful learning. It should allow enough time for teachers and students for positive and meaningful interaction to dig below the superficial level of understanding of concepts. It should also provide adequate opportunities for students to apply what they have learnt in their day to day lives. Students should engage in mini-research projects to experience authentic inquiry and discovery. Basically the change should aim for a light content which does not exert any pressure of completion on teachers and students to allow teachers to effectively use innovative teaching techniques to facilitate meaningful learning.  

Content overloaded curriculum should not stand as a militating factor against the use of innovative teaching technique.