Why do the very best teachers ignore/subvert curriculum?

Yesterday I posted a tweet. Today I’m going to comment on it. Sometimes it takes me a while to process my thoughts.

The very best teachers spend every day of their lives ignoring or subverting the curriculum

Now, why is this? Why would people, including myself, think that the best teachers are the ones who ignore what many consider to be the main ‘stuff’ of teaching? My memories of my BEd program are filled with courses on curriculum. Maybe one on Quebec education law. One on learning disabilities. But the rest were courses on curriculum. How to create lesson plans based on curriculum, how to manage your time to make sure the curriculum gets covered – that sort of thing.

Curriculum can not be the main stuff of teaching. It can’t. Do you hear me? It. Can’t.

The main stuff of my job. Wait. I’m getting sick of using the word stuff. Let me be more specific. The main point, the essence, the reason for my teaching is the students I teach. I wouldn’t say I ignore curriculum. I know it’s there. And I use it as a starting point, at the beginning of the year when I don’t really know my students yet. And throughout the year as a background for our work together. But really, I do my best to fit what my students get excited about, what they ask to learn, into the curricular competencies. When it doesn’t work, well, students trump curriculum each time. Luckily I work in Quebec, which has a very student-centered education program with a multitude of competencies in many different areas. It makes it easier to subvert. Really. It also makes it easier to ignore at times. There is just too much to cover that we can focus on what is essential to student learning. As decided by us (our last PED day was around determining the essential features of the courses we teach).

You know what? I think that by staying 100% true to curriculum we are actually ignoring our students.So subvert, ignore that which is on paper. But never those who are in front of you.

the very best teachers…

Just saw this tweet. Felt the need to record it.

The very best teachers spend every day of their lives ignoring or subverting the curriculum

via @paulawhite, via @Neilstephenson, via @kmadolf, via @alfiekohn or something like that…

students are a lot more competent than we ever give them credit for

“My personal belief is that students are a lot more competent than we ever give them credit for, and sometimes all we need is to do is get out of their way.”

Ok, those are actually Paula White’s words but we share the same belief.

I have always thought that students will rise to the bar we place for them. Last week we worked with all of our students around the issue of bullying and its mirror, being thoughtful, respectful, nice to each other. Later that same day I saw one of my students approach another, someone she never usually gives the time of day, “I just want to say hi. What’s up?” While we were filing out of an assembly (the assembly itself was pretty rocking – a presentation by Music With Meaning). I know that little outreach meant the world to the student on the receiving end. I was touched to no end.

We are explicitly expecting kindness. They are rising to those expectations when we step out of their way and give them the space to do so.

Thoughts?