28 October 2006

Doomed to Repeat

We have no "social studies" specialist in the district, although there is a teacher pulling in a $3K stipend for very little effort toward that program. Instead, the elementary math specialist has decided to put her two cents in because she loves history.

With the new standards coming out for social studies, there is interest in having a deeply aligned program. Someone will have to helm this, and secondary teachers can be tricky to work with. I listened to her have a conversation with the another specialist yesterday, and it raised some concerns for me. The main focus of the visit was to find out how to get a group of teachers to set a scope and sequence that was already preconceived by a curriculum specialist before the first meeting takes place.

When I helmed a group nearly two years ago for the science scope and sequence, I didn't go in with any preformed notions of what we should come out with, other than some agreement around the standards for each grade level. If teachers had questions (Should we go with an "integrated" curriculum vs. the traditional "life, earth, physical" sequence?), we researched the answers together. I didn't find a bunch of articles first that fit my ideas and have them read only those. As a result, we seemed to have ended up with good agreement---and buy in---from all of the secondary schools and things are going well.

There was a suggestion made to cull articles for the steering group to read so that if you want a group to move in a particular direction (e.g. a more "thematic" curriculum vs. different aspects at different grades, such as US History, civics, geography, etc.). I had such a hard time biting my tongue. The impetus for change has to be with those who will be tasked to make it happen. You can't stack the deck in your favour and think all will be rosy. I'm not saying that certain ideas don't have merit, just that it's important to go about things the right way.

I feel like I should find a way to say something. I know, it's not my business. I wasn't part of the conversation (although being seated at the next desk made me privy to every word). Nobody asked me for my opinion...and likely don't want it. Maybe I can find some way to at least put in my two cents.

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