Do Teachers Just Want to Teach?

A post today on Seeking Shared Learning got me thinking…a lot. I don’t do it often, but I thought I’d post my own comments on this topic and get some feedback:

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I think you’ll find that most teachers, particularly at the secondary level, would disagree. I find it ironic that this post was inspired by the “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog, because I (and many others I work with) would feel that is exactly what our teaching would become if we lost all control over curriculum. When teachers have no control over what they teach, the content will inevitably become stale, stagnant, and unresponsive to the needs of the diverse individuals we call students. It also eliminates the option to experiment with new ideas, new instructional methods, and even new technologies. And if our goal is to focus on 21st century skills (or Outcomes and Indicators) rather than content, why is it so crucial to teach the exact same content across the board?

When many of the secondary teachers in our district (and, I can confidently say, all of the teachers in my department) read something like this, and when we hear about curriculum binders with scripted lessons, we worry that we will lose all of the things mentioned above. And for good teachers who are committed to providing their students the best possible education they can provide, this is a scary thing. To remove teachers’ ability to be creative and innovative seems to contradict the goals of our district – in fact, teacher innovation seems to be what has made this district so successful. We may also find that when teachers lose the ability to create and innovate in their own classrooms (which most of us share in with our colleagues), they will seek out a place where they will be allowed to do so.

All that said, there is certainly a balance to be sought after. Students in Class A should certainly have the same opportunities to learn as students in Class B – the same skills being developed, the same opportunities to use technology, and so on. There are many positive learning experiences that we can all participate in. There are many other ways to find consistency without having T&L mandate curriculum to teachers – even consistency within a grade level and a department is still consistency, and it is something that can be achieved by allowing professionals, who are extensively trained in their profession, to collaborate with each other and reach a consensus of their own. Does this require more time and effort? Absolutely. But there are a lot of reasons this is not an easy profession, and we knew this when we signed up.

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For those that are currently in the classroom, do you find yourself agreeing with this, or would you prefer more standardized curriculum?

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One response to “Do Teachers Just Want to Teach?

  • Carla

    If we were to adopt scripted lessons, the professional element would be removed from the classroom. Teachers would become “educational technicians” on a par with current paraprofessionals. We would not need to know anything about adolescent psychology, about the role of the school in the community, or even really much about the subject matter. We just have to be able to read the script. Administrators would be there to make sure we completed the tasks for the day.

    This sounds like Brave New World.

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