Why do I choose the books I choose for my class? Me, I always spent a lot of time thinking about the choices of text for my students because, well, for one… I could.
Unfortunately, teachers today are seeing more and more and more micro-management of their curriculums/books/texts by people who do not actually ever have to work face-to-face with any of the real kids in the room.
It’s kind of like going to Web M.D. for medical treatment. Sure, there might be some highly qualified folks who are posting very high quality material there, but only a fool would remove a face-to-face visit with a real doctor from the equation should someone actually fall ill.
Yet, removing the power of the teacher to be a “professional diagnostician” of the literacy needs of the actual kids sitting in the classroom is not only how we operate (all too often), but it’s a wave of tomfoolery that way too many school districts in America have bought into hook, line and sinker because they wrongly believe curing literacy shortfalls in kids today can actually work from afar.
It’s as if the solution to “fixing” our kids can be purchased in a box. Great tools can come in a box. The craftspeople who wield those tools cannot.
Teachers, when I really think about it, have almost been backed into a corner in far too many schools whereby they are supposed to be executors of curricular decisions; not parties to the crafting of the curriculum itself.
And so, how do I decide which books my kids will read? First, I made sure to grab the power to do so.
My feeling was always, “Hey, you hired me to do this job, now I am going to actually do the job,” and no, I am not saying the means always justify the ends. But I am saying that if I hire a contractor to build an addition on my house, I’d be a bozo to stand over them the whole time saying, “Okay, now use the hammer. Okay, now use the saw. Okay, now I want you to use the tape measure, the wrench and then the level – in that order and at these intervals.”
The person who is doing the work needs latitude in order to smartly and effectively do the actual work.
Do teachers have the latitude to make book choices for my their own classes in this day and age. class? Do you?
The teacher as “professional diagnostician”. Our importance in the classroom of today (and tomorrow) – despite the false appearances in the media – is on the rise. The question we all must face is, “Are we up to this challenge?”