A thought experiment: would you rather have great training or great curriculum?
From a teacher standpoint, that means walking into a classroom with excellent training, or with lesson plans and materials perfectly crafted for that course.
From an administration standpoint, that means hiring people that can teach well in any circumstances, or hiring curriculum developers that can produce a foolproof product, and then making that curriculum available.
I can’t stop thinking about this hypothetical question, and I have been dragging Kathryn into it. Last weekend, as we were hiking, we agreed that teacher training is essential for responding to our students needs and creating new activities; on the other hand, when we are teaching daily and under time constraints, we would love to reach for good ready-made materials.
One end of the spectrum
While this choice is just a thought experiment for me, it is playing out as reality in many teaching contexts. Someone just relayed their observations of an elementary classroom in Zambia, where, in an effort to meet the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education, untrained teachers were given iPods with prerecorded lessons. No teacher training was necessary–not even the ability to read a lesson plan. The disembodied voice walked everyone through the activities. This is the curriculum design end of the spectrum.
I guess this is on my mind because I am thinking about where I can have the most impact in the future: training teachers, facilitators, or self-directed learners; or creating materials that anyone can pick up and use. Feel free to share your thoughts below.