There is a large school district in the Eastern part of this country (no further hints as to where it might be) that is undergoing a curriculum overhaul in its English (aka language arts) department of the high school. It has spent a LOT of money to have this rewrite done. We’re talking six figures. No chump change here.
But this new, so-called “cutting edge” curriculum (I’m serious – they used those words to describe it) which is designed to take its senior high students into the 21st Century, flat world of global competition.... This expensive curriculum makes NO MENTION of a computer whatsoever.
Not a word.
It DOES, however, require that each teacher have an easel, a large tablet on that easel, and a supply of smelly markers.
I kid you NOT.
It’s all about charting. Charting their way across the English curriculum. And posting large pieces of paper around the room.
This “cutting edge curriculum”:
It doesn’t mention that the teachers might want to use a word processor to help dissect their writing. (A VERY basic skill, wouldn’t you agree?)Am I alone here in thinking that this is appalling? SOMEONE needs to go into that district, take the curriculum folks aside and show them what’s going on in the world.
It doesn’t mention that the students could be blogging about what they are reading, or blogging their essays and receiving comments from people who MAY be around the world. (Remember this video: http://plethoratech.blogspot.com/2007/04/42.html)
It doesn’t mention that the students could be skype chatting with kids from around the country or various places of the WORLD (time factor notwithstanding) to discuss how, say “1984” is interpreted by kids from another country.
It doesn’t mention that they might consider live blogging with some other classes and then writing to their discussion forums about the experience afterwards.
It doesn’t mention that they could be ustreaming a class discussion to which parents are invited to attend and contribute virtually (via password).
It doesn’t mention that they might even consider live blogging with the author of a book they’re reading. ( http://tipline.blogspot.com/2008/01/tips-something-very-cool-student.html)
It doesn’t mention that the students could be plotting the path on Google Earth of a writer’s travels to places around the world. Of course, it would not even consider that this activity could be tied into their social studies curriculum. Instead of large pieces of paper on the wall they could have placemarks in google earth files and bookmarks in delicious.
It doesn’t mention that those @#$%^& large tablets are for the TEACHER’S use, not the student’s use. The students will still be sitting there, passively (MAYBE patiently, as well) trying to absorb enough to be able to pass that retched class.
It doesn’t mention that there is NOT ONE transferable skill that those kids will take away from that class, save for how to survive.
It doesn’t mention that kids like those who write this blog ( http://students2oh.org/2008/08/31/innovate-or-die/) are SICK TO DEATH of that kind of approach.
Nor does it mention HOW ON EARTH ANYONE could have listened to a pitch for this curriculum and thought it was good enough to purchase for six figures and require two days of precious professional development time to learn.
EASELS and LARGE TABLETS?? CAN YOU HEAR ME SCREAMING??????