“It is a fools errand to search for a teacher-proof curriculum” (Ayers, pg. 75) Is anyone really looking for this?
My father’s method of discipline was to have me and my brothers kneel against the wall. I know that have long lost track of the many hours that I have spent kneeling flat (knees, hips and shoulders) against the wall - arms held out to the side. My brothers were smart enough to give in to his demands so that they could get up. I was much too stubborn to give in so easily. Even when I knew that I was wrong I refused to give in and so I knelt. One night in particular I stayed there from 8pm until nearly 2am due to a refusal to do my homework. I know few people more stubborn than myself (two of them - my wife and daughter - live in my house) - the others are all teachers. We are a people that do not like being micromanaged.
As I read Ayers, I felt that he was trying too hard to vilify the standards that are meant to guide instruction by depicting those standards and those who write them as somehow “killing learning (pg. 74). I think that the only people who can really kill learning are the teachers in the classrooms. Perhaps they too do not like to be told what to do or perhaps they do not like the changes that come along every few years with the advent of newly released standards. Either way, it has been my experience that the standards are merely a means of keeping a large number of educators across a wide range of schools accountable to teaching the same or similar material. Thus, making it easier to to identify effective schools and ineffective schools via the use of standardized tests - delving into the issues behind and within those standardized tests is beyond the scope of the this piece.
Later, Ayers presents the “3 common beliefs about actors that stood in the way of greatness … Great actors find a seed of authenticity to move from caricature to complex, living human beings” (pg. 96). Isn’t this at the core of every good teacher? Any standard that I have ever seen, read, used, or otherwise was simply a list of principles that ought to have been taught during the year in a high school science class. At no point did I come across any dictate about how those principles were to be taught (although that would make my life simpler at times). The complex task of bringing those principles to life for the students is left to the teacher.
While “curriculum is more than pieces of information …” there are still pieces of information that students must learn in order to make deeper meaning - both shaded and with different meaning - of more complex systems.