Curriculum Wine

I’m afraid I’ve got a few whiners out there.
Got a group of teachers from a school we’ll call Nemo (you know who you are) fussing about a task that we in the business like to call Curriculum Writing.
For those of you not be familiar with the bureaucratic delights of teaching, Curriculum Writing goes a little something like this:
1.   Sit at computer for hours upon hours.
2.  Enter a play-by-play of what you teach,  removing absolutely every joyful and/or emotive word from description.  (i.e. “Use teenagers’ obsession with video games against them, and create the Anatomy and Physiology version of Dance Dance Revolution in which students listen to crappy pop music while simultaneously identifying and touching unpronounceable names of joints, muscles and other body parts in rapid succession thus making them look like spastic monkeys who jump at the word scapula…” becomes “Students will use a variety of visual and kinesthetic leaning activities to master chapter vocabulary.”)
3.  Link joyless play-by-play to even more joyless content standards and benchmarks.
Oh, standards and benchmarks.  The tediously obvious quality control of education.
Let me give you one priceless example from my own content area:
COMMUNICATION- Communicate in Languages Other Than English
Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions
Hang on just a…you mean that students in a Foreign Language class are going to have conversations?  And that this is a notable enough occurrence that it must be indicated with its own standard?  (And that “conversation” must be further explained as “providing and obtaining information and exchanging opinions.”)
No wonder you’ve got so many problems, America.  You took common sense right out of the equation.  
Sorry, where were we?
4.  Repeat steps 1-3 for about eight bajillion hours.
5.  Congratulations!  Your curriculum is now complete!  Go have a drink.  Except, since we’re all teachers and poor it’s going to have to be BYOB.  Which, neatly, brings me to my next point.
Build Your Own Curriculum
Some clown named one of the biggest curriculum building sites “Build Your Own Curriculum.”  Which, considering the educational affection for acronyms, is inevitably going to be abbreviated as BYOC.  Which means that that clown was either:
a) an evil genius who sat smirking at his desk as teachers slaving away on BYOC wistfully dreamt of Bringing Beer to the occasion or,
b) a dorky tool who completely missed the obvious alcoholic, college party-day reference of his creation.
I prefer to vote for option A.  Mostly because I like to think that other people live in the same snarky world of sass as me, but also because the other curriculum building sites have even crappier names.  “Curriculum Mapper” (way to state the obvious)  “CurriuPLAN” (dorks) and “Atlas Curriculum Mapping” (Atlas? Maps?  Really bad pun?)
Regardless, Nemo.  Quit your whining.  As painful as it is, stop for a moment and think about what it would be like to teach without a curriculum.
No, really.  Nip that maliciously delighted little giggle in the bud and think about it for a second.  Without curriculum, you’d be “that teacher.”
You know who I’m talking about.  You’ve worked with That Teacher.
It’s that colleague who, when everyone else is teaching the past tense,  randomly makes students memorize lyrics to Spanish ballads.  That teacher who, when everyone else is covering causes of the civil war, does a critical analysis of Scarlett O’hara’s wardrobe.  That teacher who, rather than teach anything even vaguely related to physics chooses to reenact The West Side Story with dancing hamsters*.
*True story.  Don’t ask.
In short, it’s that teacher who makes you mildly homicidal because when you inherit his/her students the following year, you have to spend your time filling in knowledge gaps about vectors and the theory of relativity, as well as teach your own content.  All while thirty children serenade you with “I Feel Pretty.”
You don’t want to be That Teacher, Nemo.  You’re too good for that.
So as painful as it is, admit it.  You need curriculum.
Writing it is going to suck, though.  No way around that.  So I thought I would lighten your load a little. By giving you more work.  A whole new set of standards and benchmarks to work with.  Thank you for the inspiration, Nemo.  Consider yourself responsible for…
*Singing Pig is hereby defined as any educator who cares to voice his/her opinion on this blog, in comments on this blog, or on pages related to this blog.  We simply remind you that you do so at your own risk.
Singing Pigs will communicate freely and openly about education and educational issues
Standard 1.1:  Singing Pigs will randomly denote any topic of their choice as “education-related” and tackle it (in)appropriately and enthusiastically.
Standard 1.2:  Singing Pigs will metaphorically (or literally, as the individual Pig sees fit) moon any person or party who suggests that teachers should not possess or express controversial opinions related to education.
Standard 1.3: Singing Pigs will incorporate sass into all communication where it is deemed appropriate and/or too good an opportunity to pass up.
Standard 1.4  Singing Pigs will embrace the delicate balance of using inappropriate innuendos as frequently as possible.  In every conversation.  Education-related or not.  (Refer to Standard 1.1)
Singing Pigs will employ honesty around the education profession.
Standard 2.1:  Singing Pigs will be open and frank about and entirely entertained by anything and everything that teachers aren’t supposed to talk about.
Standard 2.2:  Singing Pigs will not sugar coat any realities of the American public education system.
Standard 2.3:  Singing Pigs will demand that individuals with whom they engage in conversation do not sugar coat the realities of the American public education system.  
Standard 2.4  Singing Pigs shall encourage said honesty by obnoxiously thumbing their noses at any would-be sugar-coater while shouting that said individual’s mother was a hamster and his/her father smelled of elderberry.
3.  FUN:
Singing Pigs will love what they do and have fun doing it.
Standard 3.1: Singing Pigs will acknowledge that they will never be paid what they are worth.
Standard 3.2:  Singing Pigs will replace lacking financial benefits with the health benefits of laughing until they pee themselves at the shit kids pull. 
Standard 3.3:  Singing Pigs will happily and shamelessly poke fun at all the education crap that deserves to have its fun poked.*
*A true Singing Pig also just snickered at the word “poked.”
Standard 3.4:  When Singing Pigs no longer feel passionate about education, they will get the hell  out.  A good Pig knows when to call it a career.
Singing Pigs will maintain life balance and serve as a support network for fellow Pigs.
Standard 4.1: Singing Pigs will indulge in frequent and therapeutic happy hours containing some or all of the following coping techniques: oversharing, overdrinking, and/or getting kicked out of public establishments for riotous overlaughing.
Standard 4.2: Singing Pig posses will forcibly remove from school premises teachers who voluntarily spend more than ten consecutive hours on campus.  Singing Pigs will then forcibly submit said teachers to previous standard.
Standard 4.3:  Singing Pigs will take a minimum of one mental health day per semester without feeling the smallest shred of guilt.  You teach in public education, for crying out loud.  You outdid Mother Teresa in good deeds after the fifth bloody nose, third hallway fight and seven hundredth impromptu hallway counseling session – in one day.
So I’m sorry, school Nemo.  You may have thought you were nearly finished with your BYOC, but I’m going to need you to go back and check your standards.  That lesson on medieval England?  Have you included SP Standard 3.2 – laugh until you pee yourself?  Or does your unit plan on fractions specify a date for SP Standard 4.1 – drunken oversharing?
Although, if that seems like too much work, Nemo, there is a shorter way to a successful Singing Pigs curriculum. 
Just change the main verb of each sentence to “fart.”  
“Students will use a variety of visual and kinesthetic leaning activities to fart chapter vocabulary.”
Bathroom humor.  Works like a charm every time.  Go ahead.  Try it.  
But if all else fails, Nemo, there’s only one solution.
You’re just going to have to Bring Your Own Chardonnay.
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2 Responses to Curriculum Wine

  1. Lisa G. says:

    Oh LeeAnne, I can not tell you how much I love and relate to these musings! I feel like we language teachers finally have a voice. People like to criticize but they might not realize what it’s like in the trenches day after day.

    • singingpigs says:

      Aw, thanks! Glad to know folks from my previous life are reading. Just please…feel free to pass on. Trying to make a name for Singing Pigs. And obnoxious teachers everywhere.

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