Early on in my grad program I was told that the curricula in schools these days is unbelievably complicated. I was told that subject matter is always added, but nothing is ever taken away. I learned that the lessons, units, and overall structure of American education is “a mile wide and an inch deep” and that the ideal structure would be “an inch wide and a mile deep.” I began to believe that the lessons I plan and the projects I do with my students should be advanced, in-depth investigations about one topic that spans all subject matter.
And then I was assigned 40+ pages of reading in one night.
Not the 40+ pages of reading due next week. Not even the 40+ pages of reading due in a couple days so you still have time to read it.
No. 40+ pages of reading that I had to do in one night, no questions asked. And then when I hadn’t read through the material word-for-word our teacher was, to say the least, not pleased. (As a girl in my cohort would say, “this does not please me”).
I’m being told to make my curriculum an inch wide and a mile deep, but I myself am not experiencing said curriculum in my own class! How can I be expected to really understand what an in-depth look about one subject matter looks like if I’m supposed to absorb gobs of mathematical, scientific, and social studies related jargon in one night?
I’m not. It’s impossible. Not because I’m lazy (c’mon, I’m a teacher) but because your brain can only hold maybe 10% of information it takes in at a given time. I would cite that, but I don’t honestly know where that stat comes from. My literacy prof mentioned it today in class.
So, if you’re going to assign four different chapters to read in one night, understand that this is a curriculum that is not going to help me. Instead, it means I will give each chapter a brief, superficial once over.
If I even get to that reading at all. I do have a life outside class from 10am-4pm everyday. A life that involves groceries, cooking, organizing, packing, working out, and, oh yeah, sleeping.
To my mom readers – I know you are far busier than my 10-4 class schedule, and I’m not claiming to be busier than you. I only claim that the expectation for me to remember everything I read when assigned 80 pages in a night is unrealistic. You are the strongest women on the planet, and no one knows how hard you work better than you do!