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.

2 thoughts on “Report from Louisiana: Canned Curriculum Fatigue

  1. Congratulations on your retirement. I agree with your assessment; I have been retired 5 years and don’t miss working at all. (Even though I still have dreams about working. But then I still have occasional dreams about being in college as well.)

    Anyway, thanks for talking about how the educational system works these days. I have grandchildren who are in school, or who have recently graduated. It is good to know how things have changed since I was in school. The uninspired, boring, lowest common denominator education is a feature, not a bug, as far as the curriculum creators are concerned. They hope to create an underclass of uneducated drones who are easy to control and manipulate and are unable to challenge their power.

    I have read that more and more people are pulling their kids out of public school and homeschooling them. The resources available for home schoolers have increased tremendously and the Internet technology has made it all easy to access. There is so much knowledge available out there for those willing to look for it. Anyway, thanks again for the blog post.

  2. I was one of those bored kids. I read the textbooks in the first couple weeks, then aced all the quizzes and tests while sleeping through and skipping classes and making trouble. I was thrown out of school repeatedly but always immediately reinstated because I was captain of both the football team and the debate team. Nobody knew what to do with me and nobody thought to challenge me.

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