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Could the canned curriculum be the right choice?

I used to despise the “canned curriculum”. I think my attitude stemmed in part from my first teaching experience in a private school in Southern California. I did not have a teaching credential when I was hired. In fact, I still had a year of “course work” to go to finish my bachelor’s degree. Despite this, I was offered a position as a second grade teacher. The school gave me, as well as the rest of the teaching staff, an incredible amount of freedom. We were encouraged to innovate and create engaging lesson plans to meet the learning objectives for our particular grade levels. Along with this freedom came two full-time teachers whose sole task was to obtain instructional materials from a “mini-warehouse” on the school campus for us.

Three years later I accepted a teaching job in Oregon. This school worked differently. To achieve its objectives, a “canned curriculum” was used. What I mean by “canned” is that the curriculum guide had a very specific plan that told you what to teach and when to teach it for each day of the school year. It was timed to the minute and she even told the teacher when the students should take a break and use the bathroom. Really! I resisted using it and eventually replaced it once I took over as principal.

However, not all “canned resumes” are the same. In hindsight, I probably overreacted to the extreme micromanaging nature of what we use in Oregon. I was guilty of “throwing it all away” when so much good could have been saved.

As I mentioned in a previous article, some of you might be considering breaking away from the state system. If fear of the unknown is holding you back, I suggest you find a good “canned curriculum.” Here are six things a good “canned curriculum” will do for you:

  • give you an overview of what will be covered during the year.
  • prevent you from having to “reinvent the wheel”. They are easy to use because much of the thinking has been done for you.
  • keep you on track. We all tend to re-teach our favorite content, which leads to a lack of balance and gaps in content.
  • provide structure.
  • provide you with step-by-step lesson plans.
  • help you follow the course, so that you complete it.

Are you tired of the mindless micromanagement of many public charter schools and homeschool programs? Is the local charter school becoming “too helpful” and too involved? Tired of weekly check-ins from your friendly academic advisor who is there to make sure you’re not using three- or five-letter words like “God” or “Jesus”?

A “canned curriculum” can be your ticket to freedom. Give it a try!

Thank you for reading!

Curt Bucrot, M.R.E.

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