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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Aligned Curriculum in the Arts

Having taught 28 years, I thought I ‘d seen all the worst that public education had to offer.  But I must say that by far, the most short-sighted idea yet is curriculum alignment in the arts.

Curriculum alignment means structuring departments, sometimes school-wide, sometimes district-wide, so that everyone is teaching the same concept, state standard, or information, at the same time, in basically the same way.  In our district, this has already been implemented in the CORE classes.  In math, for example, all of the teachers work diligently to insure that everyone is teaching the same concept at the same time.  

The reasoning behind this myopic structure is that if a student has his schedule changed from Algebra Class A to Algebra Class B, he will not find himself at a different point in the curriculum in his new class.  While this practice may work in math, it is disastrous for the arts.  Every arts teacher has a unique way of teaching arts standards and concepts.  We all have our own style and strengths and ideally we teach optimally when able to utilize them.  Additionally, as artists and instructors, we are also able to access the “personality” of each class that we teach; some require more direct instruction, some lend themselves better to certain projects or experiences.  Instruction differs from class to class and certainly from teacher to teacher.  

Only the most tunnel visioned administrators would insist on such instructional practices.  Schools have already had almost all creativity drained from the curriculum.  To limit teaching practices in art to a lock-step, regimented format is unthinkable.

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