25 September 2006

The second question asked at the Town Hall Meeting on education was "What strategies and resources must be brought to the fore at the middle school level, high school level and is there some strategy that might apply on the elementary level as well to increase success?"

In 20 years involvement with local education, the one consistent thing I've heard from teachers across grade levels is that students are not prepared when they reach their classroom. The same charge is made by colleges and universities: English information that was once contained in "bonehead" or "remedial" classes has now become English 101 as higher ed institutions have given up on getting new students who have the skills once expected to have been obtained in high school.

So where's our top-down construction of curriculum? Why aren't universities designing what students should be learning as seniors, high school teachers designing what students should be learning in middle school, etc etc etc. Although "curriculum committees" are generally lauded as "broad-based" and having participation from "important stakeholders" it's obvious that somewhere, the ball is getting dropped. That is, if the regular classroom teachers are correct in what they say about their incoming students.

1 comment:

MLove said...

During the 33 years I taught, we sat through numerous curriculum strategy meetings and spent hours pounding out what needed to be taught at the levels below us.

The problem I often saw was that once the process ended, many teachers went back to their classrooms and taught what they wanted to teach anyway.

Follow-through and accountability are the essence of consistency in the educational structure. That said, I also believe in a happy medium. Possibly the curriculum needs were too closely defined, seeming unsurmountable to some.

I know that I, for one, could never have adhered to the strict draconian policy of being on exactly the same page every single day with my colleagues. Education requires a certain amount of flexibility and creativity in each teacher's approach to lessons. So, as in many disciplines, moderation is a must.

On the other hand, when I would face class after class of students where half knew what I was talking about when I mentioned anything grammar-related and the other half thought I was an alien, that's not good. Something is wrong with the system when, at the 11th grade, you still have to teach the parts of speech before going on to something as challenging as correct pronoun case or active/passive voice of verbs.