Scripted Curriculum, Part 1: WWPD? (What would Pavlov do?)
I observed 8 students in a reading intervention (special education) class. The instructor carried around a clipboard and patrolled the aisles. She would read a passage from her book, snap her fingers, and point to a student. Students reacted to the finger-snap and read their answer aloud. Students who answered on cue were given small pieces of candy. If students asked questions, gave more intelligent answers than the book offered, or tried to question the importance of the lesson, they were disciplined. At the end of the session, points were added up and king-sized candy bars were doled out for students who answered cues the most. There was no student work on the walls – posters featured dogs dressed in basketball jerseys barking: “1. Stay quiet…2. Answer on cue”. When my observations were over, the instructor told me that she had spent the first half of the school year “conditioning the behavior” of her students.
I have many questions about this experience:
– Is this what Pavlov, school and district personnel, the California Board of Education, and/or the Federal Government had in mind?
– Was this a typical or an atypical scripted classroom?
– What are the social justice issues?
– What are the chances that I will have to teach in a scripted classroom?
– Doesn’t this go against common sense?
– What does the research say?
– Did I observe a bad teacher in a manageable curriculum/situation, a bad teacher and a bad curriculum, or an average/good teacher and a bad curriculum?
I can’t tackle these issues in one post. Stay tuned for post 2: “Scripted Curriculum, Part 2: It’s the economy, stupid”.
Relevant/Cheesy Classroom Posters (I will NEVER use these sorts of posters in my classroom):