Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Curriculum in the Schools

OK, I admit it. I am eligible to join AARP. In some circles, that makes me old. In other circles, that makes me wise. I prefer the latter, but you can decide for yourself.

What's up with curricula in the public schools. It used to be important to learn your reading and writing and 'rithmetic. Now, it doesn't seem to matter. Sometimes, when I look at resumes, this becomes obvious. When I look at business correspondence, it becomes more obvious. And, finally, when I see some of the math done by otherwise intelligent, obvious has reached a whole new level.

But, we debate on what other, obviously far more important things, should be taught in school. In many parts of the country, the politicians want to make sure that the educators enforce that evolution is just a theory. C'mon people. In 1859, Charles Darwin wrote "The Origin of the Species", outlining his Theory of Evolution. Yes, it is still just a theory, and it always will be. But, more than 150 years later, there is not one scintilla of evidence to disprove this theory, and trust me, people have tried.

Then, there is this crap about integrated learning. In this debacle, a not atypical math assignment asks a student to research a math topic and write an essay on it. Tell me, how does this serve a student.

Even when I think back to my days in school (yes, it was after the invention of the light bulb), we learned a lot of stuff that had little, if any, value when we could have been learning more important things. I applaud, for example, Vasco da Gama for being the first man (actually everyone else on his vessel was probably tied with him for this honr, but I never learned their names) to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. I think that learning this once was probably sufficient, but we covered it in every grade of elementary school. On the other hand, we never made it as far as the end of World War II in US History.

Worse yet, in this country, I would posit that the US Constitution is and has been as important a written document as about anything else out there. In 12 years of schooling before college, we barely covered it. I think we learned that there are three branches of government and we knew their names. We learned that there were a bunch of amendments and that the first 10, when taken together, were called the Bill of Rights. All the rest of that stuff, we skipped over it for the most part.

This is ludicrous. Schools need to go back to the basics. You want your kids to learn about your religion? Teach them at home. You want your kids to learn about the explorers (beyond the basics)? Buy them a book, or give them a link to a good website. You want them to learn about pop culture? They can't avoid it.

Let's get back to the basics. In my world, here is the really important core of the curriculum:

  • Math, out the wazoo. There is no reason that good students cannot be in calculus by 9th or 10th grade. Yes, I know we don't have enough teachers who can teach at this level yet, but we should. But, if we spent more time on math, average and better students would be learning algebra in 5th and 6th grades, and the rest would follow naturally.
  • Computers. Everything we can teach our kids about them. They are now, and without them, our students are lost.
  • Civics. Yes, let's teach them about the US Constitution.
  • Reading and writing, including grammar ... and more grammar ... and spelling ... and more spelling.
  • Culture, so that they can have more diverse discussions.
  • Foreign languages, so that we are not the only country in the world with a bunch of mono-linguistic oafs.
OK, I've probably pissed off enough people by now. If you are one of them, let me hear it.


  1. *laugh* I agree with a lot more of this than I normally agree with rants about how the schools should get back to basics.

    I'm not sold on the grammar/spelling emphasis thing, but I might just be exposed to less bad grammar/spelling than you are.

    Also, I would include history (which you might have meant to do in civics, but I think history is more than civics) and probably break down culture into sub-fields.

    Oh, uh, I almost forgot...why don't you include science in your core curriculum? The basics, at least, of physics/chem/bio?

  2. I probably should have included science in my core curriculum. But, understand that in this blog, I am usually ranting top of mind as compared to my other blog where I actually think before I type.

    History is useful, and some of it would be included in what I refer to as civics. I would actually like to see more emphasis on modern history though than on, for example, Abe Lincoln's mother or what they actually ate at the first New World Thanksgiving feast.

    Just my opinion, of course, but it's my blog, lol.