How Teachers Think

We’ve mentioned we’re rookies at this research process, so today we come clean with what has been pointed out as a mistake as to how to get teachers to discuss what might be missing from their classroooms.

We thought inviting teachers to talk about their curriculum needs was the right way to phrase our intent to discuss biblical worldview in the classroom, but we may have been wrong.

We found one teacher on the Internet who teaches at a Christian school and is a former school administrator. We asked him if he had any ideas as to how to get in with teachers to discuss their curriculum needs, and he had some insightful things to say:

“From a teacher’s perspective, a survey from a publisher is not how curriculum gets developed. Curriculum is developed within a school community as it focuses on mission and then decides what and how to teach. Text books are tools to accomplish curricula goals, but texts are not synonymous with curriculum.”

Curriculum is developed within a school community? Do any of you have anything to add to this? How? If texts are not synonymous with curriculum in your situation, what is?

If our approach to discuss “curriculum” needs has been incorrect, what should our approach look like instead? We may not be getting answers because we’re asking the wrong questions. What’s the right one(s)?

Updated to add: This post is about a separate aspect of our research: finding out how to discuss with teachers at Christian schools. We did not mean to imply that we were unahppy with the direction of those participating in the blog discussions. Not at all. Please continue to give us your input. We also need the input of the teachers, but we’re trying to figure out how to go about doing that in a different way.

5 Comments

Filed under How Kids Think

5 responses to “How Teachers Think

  1. kim

    Im not a teacher, and didnt realize the intent of these discussions was in regards to curriculum in the classroom…I just thought it was gaining perspective (from parents too) on how we share information with our kids. So, my answer will not be as a teacher.

    I have worked in public schools, and have a few thoughts on the educational process…but my discussion here is as a mother.

    My son goes to a Christian school, and when I considered his education, I looked at whether or not schools were selecting the best curriculum, and if they were looking at Christian publishers, secular or both.

    It was important to me that they use Christian based books, particularly for science and history, but preferably for all subjects. They are doing this, which makes me happy.

    My other area of interest, was that the curriculum be developed in such a way, that children can move ahead at their own pace, or at least remain challenged. Our teacher last year (kindergarten) did a fabulous job at keeping each child challenged at their own level (pre-readers to 6th grade level readers)…they were grouped by abilities, and within groups were able to move at their own pace.

    This year, the teacher has taken a “cooperative learning” approach, of which I am not fond.

    I dont want to micromanage her classroom, so I am trying to just let things go….but I find that I am having to do more at home to keep my son challenged (and I really dont like having to supplement, as a long school day is plenty for a 1st grader, IMO).

    My point, is that I think the content of the curriculum is only part of the picture. As a parent I am interested in teaching styles and philosophies of learning, not just WHAT they are being taught.

    Im not sure if this is of interest to your focus group, but I hope so.

  2. Megan

    Oh, absolutely, Kim. This blog has turned into a much different type of discussion and we LOVE that. We want it to be for anyone interested in how to better teach children to be discerning Christians (that’s the end goal). We *do* need focused groups of teachers at Christian schools, but those we’re trying to do off-site of the blog, in person. We posted this today to see if you all could indeed help us think of better questions to draw the teachers into the discussion, but this doesn’t at all mean we’re trying to steer the conversation away from where we’ve been. We need to see and hear all angles of perception for this and it’s going to come from homeschoolers, teachers at Christian schools, parents with kids in public schools, parents with kids in Christian schools, etc.

  3. I’m going to agree with the teacher who said that curriculum is internally created. When I taught in public high school, I never followed a textbook. Ever. All my curriculum was created by me based on the goals set by the district. I could teach any way I saw fit as long I could prove that my methods were reaching toward those directives. The teachers were completely capable of creating a test based on whatever approved literature was on the list for that year. I created spelling and grammar quizzes based on what problems I saw the kids were having, not what the publishers thought the kids needed to know. That went for both journalism and English classes. Our English department head used to laugh at the fact that we even had English textbooks, since nobody in the department ever used them. (And, I was able to teach Grapes of Wrath and point out all the Biblical themes without any problems.)

  4. mama2tlc

    I taught for 3 years in a classical christian school. It was an awesome experience and I learned much more than I ever learned in college. For 2 years I had a lead teacher who was absolutely devoted to the curriculum- because that was what the board chose- and it was very frustrating. We rushed through the day and there was never time for anything extra. The curriculum was secular, with exception to the history/science. The school advanced the curriculum and the students did well with it for the most part. What they did is for K, they used the 1st grade curriculum and 1st grade used 2nd grade, etc. This was a problem because the curriculum had been designed according to maturity levels also. for example, I don’t believe that 2nd graders can understand the point of square numbers, but we taught it-attempted to- because that was the curriculum (it was intended for 3rd grade)! The third year I taught, the lead teacher became principal, but I surprisingly had much more freedom in the classroom. I abandoned the strict schedule she had us on, and taught according to the students. I used the curriculum, but with the students’ needs as my guide. In reading, I felt I had failed miserably the previous years by sticking to the curriculum. The third year was BEAUTIFUL. I had BOYS reading levels increase by 3 and 4 years. I had girls who hated reading LOVING reading. It was an answer to prayer and had nothing to do with the curriculum.

    My point is that the curriculum needs to put God in control. It needs to be flexible and have freedom to be influenced by the children and teacher. The curriculum should be a series of easily identified goals with a large variety of ways to implement the goals.

  5. Lela

    I am a teacher at a Christian school using A Beka curriculum for K-2, and the Switched On Schoolhouse curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications for grades 3-12. We have used the God’s World Magazine as an extra tool for discussion in the classroom, but not as fully as I would like.

    Our curriculum is computer interactive with links to safe web sites. Is there a possibility that you could pursue a partnership with SOS to provide your magazine as on online link? Our students have writing and hands-on projects that require research, and I would love to see them have access to current events from a Godly perspective.

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