Curriculum is Dead — Teacher as Tour Guide

The other day, I wrote a rather heavy-handed entry, implying that with the increasing transparency of our classroom walls, there is no need for curriculum. This could have caused some confusion, not only because we all define curriculum in different ways, but also because the impression may have been read that with such rich access to the world outside the classroom, who needs pedagogy.

This is not at all what I meant, and I apologize if you took my words to literally. I tend to howl at the moon. It’s the different between, say, a math teacher (I was a lousy math teacher) and a history teacher (now that was my calling). In math, the point is made most effectively and eloquently by presenting the facts clearly and precisely and letting the logic speak for itself. History, on the other hand, makes its case with thunder, terror, and glory. Good history teachers really would rather perform history.

Anyway, the point is this. Education, defined by it limits, required a curriculum that was packaged into products that could be easily used in the classroom. We used textbooks with scope and sequence, pacing guides, and a teacher’s guide with the answers.

Education, defined by it’s lack of limits, requires no such packaging. It’s based on experiences, tied to real-world, real-time information that spans the entire spectrum of media — crafted an facilitated by skilled teachers, who become more like tour guides than assembly-line workers.

Certainly, some things have to be taught, and they may even be taught with the help of packaged curriculum. I would prefer to see something more along the lines of the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (See What’s Left for the Classroom), than a basel reader. But, I suspect that learning to read, write, add, subtract, count, and measure, will become much less the predominant vision of teaching and learning that it is today, once students and teachers are empowered to participate with a universe that conspires to reveal its truth.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.