Curriculum Rationale: Changed Mantra Part 3

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • May
  • 20
  • 2005

Considering the role technology plays in classroom teaching and teacher training, it seems that two reasons technology is ignored are that it isn’t something teacher training programs discuss and it is seen as someone else’s job. Sadly, it’s often this inertia that causes a teacher to avoid technology.

Mantra Three: I Teach It For Their Own Good

Many teachers I know are just fine doing things the way they’ve been done for the last 10 or 20 years simply because that’s the way they’ve been done for the last 10 or 20 years. A further thought to tomorrow’s lesson would entail more work, so why not go with what’s already been created? Why reinvent the wheel?

Teaching is Refining

When the wheel was first invented, it didn’t look as sleek as it does now. It’s not reinventing, but refining the wheel that needs to be encouraged.

I presented a workshop on an essay outline format 2 years ago at San Jose State through the San Jose Area Writing Project. Toward the end of the workshop, I turned the tables on everyone, urging the teachers in the room to use the outline format as a way to write a curriculum rationale for what they teach, either a text that they are uncertain about reasons for teaching or one they understand completely reasons for teaching. I modeled the rationale I completed for The Scarlet Letter in which I outlined the reasons that I teach the novel, thereby giving myself a clearer reason for taking the kids through the book (through which they often kick and scream!).

The biggest complaint I received about the workshop was the curriculum rationale. Maybe I presented it the wrong way; maybe I wasn’t clear enough in how this could benefit their instruction. The message was clear, though: the teachers in the room didn’t like having to think about why they teach what they teach.

To integrating technology into the classroom is to rethink the way curriculum is taught, to reconsider what is important and why it is so important that it must be covered during the precious little time a teacher has with students. It’s part of refining instruction. The lessons for using technology in effective ways haven’t been done that way for the last 10 or 20 years. There’s no routine to fall back on. There’s no history of teaching that way, so many teachers are reticent to adopt new methods. There’s comfort in the old, veteran principles of simply covering what you covered last year. At times when last year’s curriculum was successful, keep that up. At all other times, though, reconsideration is a must.

I have seen many teachers who see computers and technology as a hinderance, just one more thing they have to do to appease administration. On the other hand I have seen students who see computers as little more than a game console. Both are often completely lacking in the 21st century skills you hear so much about. (Source)

Too true. Teachers see computers in a tiny little box, no pun intended. Computers serve a narrowly defined role in many classrooms, mine often included. It’s a shame, really, because that little box is a window to a much larger world that most students may never have a change to see. Webcams make things possible that otherwise would have cost a lot of money and several field trip permission slips. Podcasting is showing itself to be yet another new use of this technology.

Tom is right in his 4 boiler plate statements at the end. Unfortunately, there are challenges in the way of any of those 4 ideas becoming reality, but they really only boil down to the basic challenges that stand in the way of any kind of change:

  • not enough time
  • not enough money
  • an unwillingness to change
  • those damned mantras
  • Governor Schwarzenegger and President Bush

So give up the mantras of old. Create some new ones. I’m sure there’s a Web site that’ll…

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