Effects of Shared Curriculla


This was an incident I observed while shadowing a teacher (let’s call her Ms. Smith) for mandatory observation houts.

In the school, there was a decree that everyone in the seventh grade read The Outsiders, even though half the students had read it before for sixth grade. The principal had been concerned that in previous years when separate classes read two different books, it became obvious which classes were more advanced; the ones following the lead of the Honors classes. To avoid this situation, he determined that every class would read the same book. The choice was between The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird. The feeling of the Special Ed teachers was that the latter was too advanced for those students. Ms. Smith believed that this was incorrect, but that there was also another way to avoid the problem from earlier years: Allow teachers to select the material for their curriculum.

This is an area where I clearly feel that the school administration was mistaken. Given the consensus that students in the United States often don’t get material that pushes them cognitively, ensuring that every student has the less challenging text is simply a bad policy. I am unaware of any evidence that a small potential boost to the self-esteem of some students is worth compromising on rigor for everyone. If I was a teacher, and every student in the school was expected to go with a particular text, I would go along with that, and argue for the other text when the decision is being made. And I’d keep it as one more example for my magnum opus on what’s wrong with education in the United States of America.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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