Jim Anderson, of Washington Teachers, reacts to an article from The Seattle Times that shows how standardized lessons, like those developed by committees in Bellevue, Wash., can inhibit learning. Bellevue Superintendent Mike Riley, who advocates for a nationally standardized curriculum, says an inconsistent curriculum is “at the heart of what’s wrong with education in America.” Riley modeled his managed curriculum, developed mostly by teachers, after this belief.
Anderson prefers the system at his old school, where standardized lessons reflected teacher and student autonomy. Most importantly, he says, change came from the bottom up.
We saw that certain students weren't being reached by a one-book-fits-all structure, and so we worked for months to revamp our curriculum. No principal, superintendent, or government flack breathed down our necks. Instead, we worked as professionals, and the result was impressive: student engagement, teacher confidence, and even district recognition.
Standardization, to a degree, has its benefits. The trick is finding the right degree—and teachers have to lead the way.