Due to the effectiveness of book companies lobbying our state law makers, my state requires schools to purchase new curriculum every four years. Sometimes we haven’t even gotten all the material unwrapped before we have to send it away. Other times we have grown to love a specific curriculum and then we are told that we must try something new because the new curriculum will be the solution to everything. In my state this waste makes the publishers coffers larger as our teaching salaries continue to decrease.
It’s amazing to me that I have never had a student who said to me, “I love this curriculum!” I find fewer and fewer students who look forward to learning from today’s fancy curriculums. With flat screen tv’s, projection systems, and the internet; textbooks and the traditional materials have become an anathema. For this reason districts around the country have been striving to catch up to the technological age. Yet, for thousands of years teachers have found ways to take even simple tools like books, whiteboards, and stories to captivate their classroom. These simple tools have worked for thousands of years and are still effective today.
I have never had a student who said I love science, ”because of the really thick workbook, glossy textbook, and the little one person experiment buckets.” My students look forward to science because they get to use their hands to make magical things happen with common objects. They get to see life created from seeds, matter moving without their own forces, chemicals creating energy from the air. The curriculum might guide us in what experiment to conduct, but the teacher is the one who makes it all possible.
No student I’ve ever met says to me, “Give me a box of shapes and manips and I can figure out what I need to learn in math this year. No matter how many blocks, clocks, and manips you have, the educational connections almost always come from the teacher instead of the stuff that we have in the room.
I’ll be the first to admit that the right curriculum is a great help, but a common perception is that if schools have the right technology, curriculum, or materials that students will succeed. The truth of the matter is that successful teaching almost always comes from a hard working teacher who uses the tools available to improve the lives of their students. Even if the governments, administrators, and parents of our country cannot see a teacher’s importance, those in the classrooms know the truth. Students learn because of their teachers. Hopefully, one day soon, the voice of teachers will grow louder than the special interest groups that currently guide our nation’s lawmakers.
(What curriculums, programs, or technology have you had success with?)