Too Much Is Never Enough

I have been doing a decent amount of meditating lately on the notion of how much is too much, how much is not enough regarding what comes down from the top of the school to the desk of the teacher.  I think the two extremes would either be the situation where a teacher is told “exactly what to say” in which case there really is no teacher in the room, or the scenario in which nothing is given to the teacher and they have complete say over what they do, in which case there is no vision for the school, no program, no pathway (curricula).  Both are out for obvious reasons, but now we are left with the middle ground, the middle way, the path of virtuous school planning.  So here are the questions I am pondering with little to none of the answers I have been gathering because I am not happy with most of them yet…(I will check back on this after I am more settled on some of the answers):

  1. What constitutes “not enough?”  What does a bona fide “vision” for a school look like?  Is a mission statement enough?  What else must it include?  Philosophy statements?  If so, how many, of what kinds, etc.?  Should administration choose the resources a teacher must use, or is that their call?  How, if so; or if not, how does one then mark out a clear enough path so as to have consistency within their course offerings?
  2. What constitutes “too much?”  Should a teacher be given their objectives?  Should lesson plans for one year be preserved and served up the next?  What would be the right reasons, if there are any, for administration to require teachers to turn in lesson plans in advance of their lessons?  When, if ever, has administration violated or infringed upon a teacher’s personality or giftedness by serving up too much in the way of standards, direction, etc.?
  3. Should administration be more focused on “what is to be taught,” “how to teach,” or some other concern?
  4. What form should administration take in regard to curriculum?  Should it be the headmaster alone, the Board, a specialized group perhaps called a “Curriculum Committee,” some specialist working under the head, the faculty, whom?
  5. Do you teach a student to be a learner, or give him “learning” (to follow the ‘teach him to fish or give him a fish’ analogy), or perhaps both, or some other third alternative?  If its the latter, then which fish are the right fish?  There has to be a process for arriving at the best fish, does there not?  If its at least more of the former, then how does one teach such skills, what are the skills, and what does this do to our concepts of measurement for teaching?  Do we measure the skill of the fisherman (learner) by the number of fish caught (content learned)?  Can one fisherman score a “94%” while another only gets an “82%”?
  6. Do you ever just feel like there are way more questions than answers?  And that whenever you ask one, and pursue its answer, you find ten more?  Do you?  Do you think I do?

If you think of other questions, wish to weigh in on any of these, or whatever, by all means “comment.”

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