By Guy Page
New teaching methods make it impossible for the Essex-Westford School District to provide classroom curricula to interested parents, School Superintendent Beth Cobb told the school board Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The school board was debating a proposed new policy committing to provide clear expectations about what’s happening in school.
“It would seem to me that the curriculum, the learning goals, and the specifics of what is being taught are not always readily available,” Board Member Al Bombardier said, in the Media Factory video, beginning at 45:25.
“That’s a difficult thing to do, as to the way we teach now. We teach to the needs of the students,” Superintendent Beth Cobb said. “Even when I began teaching, it was more a matter of opening a book, and following exactly what the book told us to teach. Now we realize we have humans in front of us. We need to meet their needs. We have to be adaptable and flexible.”
The school district sets standards, goals and learning units, all available on the school website. But the curriculum – the books and lesson plans and other learning materials – is prepared at the classroom level by the teacher, Cobb said.
And teachers, she said, have autonomy.
“We have our standards that we teach. And then teachers have the autonomy to teach to those standards,” she said. “We are not making widgets. We are making little human beings.”
“The curriculum is a difficult thing when somebody says please show me your social and learning curriculum. It can’t be done; it’s an ongoing process,” Cobb said.
Parents want “retail” level information, Bombardier said. “They are,” Cobb said–but they can’t have it.
They think about when they were back in school,” Cobb said. “Like when I could hand over the teaching books, the text books. We don’t have those anymore.”