Posted by: lboudreau | April 12, 2011

Parsing Education

I’m going to be a mentor teacher for Breakthrough Atlanta, working with college-age students who will work with Middle School students.  The curriculum follows the standards from the Atlanta Public Schools.  Each element is rather new to me, which makes the work exciting.  I’m especially excited about training future teachers.

We’ve met to discuss the basic outlines of the program: goals, people, timing, forms.  I was struck by the detail of the learning standards; my public school colleagues have to tease apart their lesson plans in ways I don’t need to.  And I wonder.  Does that really help student learning?

I truly understand the need to have teaching/ learning goals for each lesson.  And I understand the need to standardize curriculum across a broad swath of a district– you don’t want some students having seen substantially more or less than their peers.  But from the outside,  it seems that planning so many detailed requirements consumes much time and energy.  You must be sure that you covered EXACTLY this particular type of line, or solution, or step.  Wow.  Does this really serve students?  Is it a realistic plan?  Is there time for something off the grid?  Something inventive?  Maybe something generated by students themselves?

Do students really learn all this?

Is there some sort of happy medium, in which students get a fair deal, and some space to play?  And teachers get a livable curriculum plan.

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