Standardized, scripted curriculum is one of the biggest detriments to education that I can think of. It doesn’t allow room for authentic learning experiences, students have a difficult time engaging with it, and it treats our students as if they are robots that have just been spit out of a factory wielding the exact same makeup. It is ludicrous to think that every student will learn material in the exact same way at the exact same time. Children aren’t expected to walk for the first time because a book says they should, or lose their first tooth on command. Why then, would we expect students to learn on command because the curriculum mandates it? Children develop at different rates. They walk when they are developmentally ready to walk, and they lose a tooth when they are developmentally ready to lose that tooth. Shouldn’t learning be the same? Shouldn’t we be taking cues from the children themselves? Standardized curriculum doesn’t allow for this. Standardized curriculum doesn’t truly allow for the different ways that children learn. Oh sure, they may have a small section at the end of each chapter that offers ideas for differentiation, but is it true differentiation when we are still forcing the same learning?
We need flexible curriculum. I dream of a day when schools don’t have to buy one standard curriculum. I dream of a school where teachers can meet the individual learning needs of each child in their classroom by creating customized curriculum that meets those needs. I dream of an iTunes like model where teachers can select chapters or books that meet the unique learning needs in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, this is not free-for-all education where anything goes. It is a customizable education, it lets teachers do their jobs to the fullest, calling on their expertise of learning and children. The need for standards and benchmarks are still there, the difference is that children are seen, not as robots to be plopped out of a factory, but as the individuals that they are.
Standardized curriculum lends itself to the current model of education that we have. The straight rows of desks, the standardized testing, the grade levels and grades. In order for a customized curriculum model to truly work, we need to rethink the way that education is done. My dreaming isn’t finished.