During a session of the Leadership Institute here at International School Brussels, Kevin Bartlett shocked me and a few other people by saying that teachers should not necessarily be writing curriculum, should not be spending hours creating central ideas. This can be done centrally, and be done by people who love doing it and are good at it.
“Whoa… hold on” I thought “I love doing all of that stuff… and I’m good at it.”
And then it dawned on me. “Oh yes, so I should be doing it”. Other people don’t like to do it and, let’s be honest, are not that good at it. So, perhaps they should not be doing it.
This then leaves the following question hanging… “If you haven’t been involved in creating a central idea for a unit, can you teach it effectively?”
Well, in my opinion, those difficult conversations that try and establish what a unit is really about are absolutely fundamental if we are going to be able to guide students through them. However, you can still have those conversations without having to invest a huge amount of time and energy into creating them. Let’s say, for example, that a teaching team is planning the unit that will be based on a central idea like “Ideas and actions can cause a shift in thinking or change the course of history”. As a team, they will need to put some thought into what the unit means, why it is important for their students and what their students should be able to learn as they navigate their way through it. This is the stuff of planning and, Kevin would argue, this is where teachers’ genuine talents and expertise lies.