I was talking with a friend over the weekend and our conversation went to school and instruction. Her district went back to half-day kindergarten this year. So she is feeling the pressure of how to fit everything into a shorter period of time. They are also implementing a “structured” reading program, which uses charts and templates as tools for instruction. So each teacher, at every grade level uses the same materials to instruct all of their students. This reminded me of a blog I read from Alexander Russo, Overly Scripted Curricula Cripple Teachers
Teaching is not a script; it is so much more. It is committing to your students and what they need to learn. It is knowing your content and being deliberate as you teach it to the students in your class. It is setting high, worthwhile goals for student learning, while continually monitoring and adjusting. It is reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work and why. Teaching is powerful. Reading from a script is not teaching. Teaching comes from the heart; it is what we are.
I understand that it is important to give students a foundation in reading and there are certain skills that all students need. The notion of scripted teaching would be fine, if all students, in all classes were the same and had the same needs. But teaching is not that simple. How does a one size fits all program impact student learning? It seems to me that we need to be more cautious when selecting programs that will ultimately impact our children’s future.
This topic just saddens me. Districts and schools implement programs, looking for a quick fix. What is the long-term impact of a quick fix program? Are we sacrificing quality teaching, problem solving and critical thinking for rapid results and higher test scores? How do quick fix programs make learning relevant and real? Do these programs make learning temporary or permanent? I worry about what tomorrow will look like and how we are or are not preparing our students for their future.