Curriculum Shorts (Some short musings about curriculum)
One of the best things about being an independent-minded teacher is that you can sit in meetings, smile and nod away at all the latest initiatives, work out how to pay lip-service to them and, then, when the classroom door closes go about your merry business in the usual way. The potential for mavericks to do it their own way is huge. Which is why some more martinet managerial types will try a variety of means to make sure that the ‘awkward-squad’ are bought to heel. Lesson observations, scripted lessons, book checks, planning checks, interviewing pupils, all these measures and more might be used to bring the radical into line.
The awkward teacher, even when told to go chapter-by-chapter from a text book, can go off-script as soon as that classroom door is closed. They don’t do this to be a bad teacher, they do it to be a better one. The text book is not good enough, the scripts are poor, they, alone, have the key to the kingdom of knowledge for their kids and the absolute belief that they can unlock the wonders of wisdom.
Instead of seeing these teachers as awkward, curriculum design is where they can come into their own. Good curriculum design is a collaborative affair. A wise school invests in giving its teachers time to work together to create curricula in which they all have a say in. What knowledge, when, how to teach it, what children should be producing, how to assess it. How to review it, change it, tweak it… all this is part of the continuing, unfinished, project of good curriculum design. The creativity of the teaching staff, absorbed in creating a joined-up curriculum for their pupils, ensures that the curriculum has buy-in from the teachers and that they can take responsibility for its successes and any any problems that might be found en-route. When the maverick closes the door, they could still go ‘off-piste’ but they are more aware of how and where they fit into the ‘whole’ and how essential it is that ‘they pass the baton on’ in a way in which others are allowed to run with it.
Collaborative design is an essential part of successful curriculum planning.