Report from Louisiana: Canned Curriculum Fatigue

By:  Pat Austin  

SHREVEPORT – I highly recommend retirement.

I retired from the classroom after twenty-five years this past spring and could not be happier about it. Not everyone is cut out for retirement, or so I hear, but so far, I am loving it.

Part of the equation is that it was definitely time for me to leave the classroom; Common Core scripted lesson plans were not for me. My very nature rebelled against the canned slides, the prewritten questions, and the dull activities, the endless annotation of a “text.” I railed against all of this for the last five years of my career. You don’t realize what a burden this sort of thing places on you until you get away from it, until you strip away those bindings.

As younger, newer teachers come into the profession, this method will be the only one they know. They won’t know any other way to design lessons because they’ll never have to actually create a lesson. And the rebels, the old guard, like me, we are leaving in droves.

The result will be students that all learn the same material the same exact way.

That makes me sad, but blissfully happy that I am no longer a part of it.

When school began this fall, I thought I would miss it.  I do not. As much as I loved my students, it was time for me to go. The boring, canned lessons create more classroom disruptions. A bored kid is going to either go to sleep, pull out his phone, or act out. I no longer had the energy to battle this.

I worry a little about what is happening in education today but not so much anymore that I think I can do anything about it. I used to believe I could make a difference, that I could change things. Truth is, I could make a difference in my little room with my own students, but that was it. The future of education is in the hands of the big guys like Pearson, like Bill Gates…people with agendas and companies that write tests and publish books.

It isn’t about what is good for the kid anymore, I don’t believe.

To those teachers still in there fighting the good fight, you have my support and my best wishes.

Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying retired life. I get up when I want to, I don’t have to wait until a bell rings to go to the restroom or to each lunch. Lunch can be whatever time and last for however long I wish. I can spend my days in a hammock reading a book, at my computer writing a masterpiece, planning delicious meals for my family. I can travel on a whim. I can spend the entire day sitting on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin drinking a beer and watching the boats.

And for me, that’s much better than standing before a classroom of bored students reading a canned slide and having them annotate a dull passage for the third time because some suit in some office thinks that’s how kids learn.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

The greatest Indictment of Seattle I’ve Yet Heard

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday at church. As mass was ending I noticed a woman I did not recognize checking out the Indulgence calendars on the back table so I went over, introduced myself and explained what they were. It turned out she had come from Seattle visiting family, I introduced my wife and the three of us proceeded to the Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast downstairs in the church hall and found ourselves in conversation as we ate.

As we spoke (Dawife and her really hit if off) we found she was originally from Massachusetts but was thinking of moving back as the next was now empty and she had family both in the area & near Boston so she was scouting out various cities and towns and proceeded to ask about the Fitchburg / Leominster area. Her first question spoke volumes:

Is it safe for a woman to go to a supermarket at 8 PM in this city.

Now Fitchburg isn’t what it was when I was a teen and there are parts that are a lot rougher thanks to drugs and gangs but I was able to say “yes” without hesitation, but the implication of the question that really hit me.

When a woman’s first question when inquiring about a potential move concerns personal safety that suggests where they currently are isn’t safe.

Seattle was once of the great cities in our nation, but over the last few years it has let itself become ruled by the mob to the point where the first question from a professional woman looking for a new place to live is “Will I be safe to go grocery shopping?”

That we should reach this point in an American city in my lifetime is disgraceful and that I feel more shame over it as an American then those who actually run Seattle three thousand miles away do is the greatest indictment of their actions and inactions that I can think of.

If you don’t want such people, we’ll gladly take them.