Sadly, I think many people (perhaps most legislators) are confused about the reasons we went to school, may still be going to school, and require our students to attend school.

People are the curriculum.

No, school is not primarily about the effective transmission of content from the mouth of the teacher or the page of the textbook into the mind of the learner. Yes, of course we want students to gain more knowledge and skills as a result of their school experiences– so content IS important, but content is not the curriculum.

People are the curriculum.

An authentic environment of teaching and learning is all about helping others change and expand their perceptions. This is a challenging task. Education is fundamentally about changing the world, one mind a time. If this was a simple or easy proposition, why would we appropriately value and venerate the “master teachers” with whom most of us have (however briefly) had an opportunity to exchange perceptions at some point in our educational journeys? Moving from apprentice-teacher to journeyman to master is a long road paved with plenty of mistakes and lots of experiences. It is a journey that can only be made through sustained contact with other masters, and in the trenches of the classroom working with students. This is an age-old tale of learning which likely predates the written word.

Legislators and academic associations have loaded a dizzying array of standards and requirements on students as well as teachers at all levels, and these efforts have been well intentioned. The authors of these documents have wanted to help raise teacher expectations of student performance, and help ensure that students enter a classroom each day where they are challenged to learn, grow, and succeed. Somewhere along the way down this broad road paved with good intentions, however, the authors either forgot or never understood in the first place this critical perspective always maintained by the master teacher.

People are the curriculum.

Want a fast way to validate this contention? Describe the sort of teacher YOU want teaching YOUR OWN children, or teaching YOUR OWN grandchildren. I am pretty certain you do not want a teacher who believes content is the curriculum. You do not want a teacher who believes THE TEST is the curriculum. You want someone who not only believes in their heart of hearts, but demonstrates through their daily acts, that people are the curriculum. Your child, grandchild, and neighbor’s child are the curriculum. The student in the classroom is the reason the teacher is there, the reason the principal is there, and the reason the taxpayer pays the heating, cooling, textbook and technology bills. We hope that child is the reason behind the legislator’s vote last session on proposed legislation concerning education issues– but if you are in Texas (and possibly elsewhere) that is a tenuous proposition at best. If this perspective was a given for our legislators, we’d have solved our state school finance mess before now.

People are the curriculum. We need to remember that, living as we do in dark times when many around us are confused. Perhaps through the stories we tell each other and share, we can remind those who need reminding (and there are many) of this basic educational truth.

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4 Responses to People are the curriculum

  1. Chris says:

    “You want someone who not only believes in their heart of hearts, but demonstrates through their daily acts, that people are the curriculum.”
    I’d add to that someone who has the courage to ignore dictats from above which threaten that ideal. (This becomes easier with advancing years/experience) The resulting harmony between teacher and pupils will be so apparent that the courageous teacher becomes less assailable by the nonsense of administrators.

  2. pondering says:

    People are the Curriculum

    Wes Fryer say that People are the curriculum: He’ right. No, school is not primarily about the effective transmission of content from the mouth of the teacher or the page of the textbook into the mind of the learner.

  3. […] Professional Development informed by chaos is where the curriculum is the person, to borrow from Wesley Fryer. PD is no longer a firehose, but a trajectory coach. Normally it’s at your side, not in front of you leading. It can take that position if you want it to, but more than anything it suggests directions, but always as a copilot. It’s onboard, going where you, the teacher, is going. It should be the picture of personal adaptation, where one person’s PD experience my vary totally from another’s. […]

  4. […] I liked this article a lot. It points out the importance of not forgetting that learning and education is about people not content (curriculum). Here is the summary excerpted from the Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog. […]

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