Scripted Curriculum: Thoughts and Feelings

Recently in my Politics of Reading course at UNC, we discussed scripted curriculum.  Before taking this course, I was unaware that such a method even existed.  In a nutshell, scripted curriculum is a method of teaching in which teachers are essentially given a script that they must follow.  Pretty straightforward, right? Well, after learning that this was a way that teachers have been basically forced to teach in, I felt pretty frustrated.  Teaching is a craft, an art, that teachers work towards perfecting for their children.  It is ever changing depending on the students needs. Each year the way a teacher approaches the curriculum should shift a bit to allow him or her to best help his or her students. At least, this is what I’ve always believed.  Many of the people in charge seem to think differently, or at least ignore the idea that all students learn differently in order to try and improve test scores for the students that they feel actually have a shot at improving.  Reading this, you may think that I am being dramatic or exaggerating, and that is totally valid, however I feel very strongly in that each teacher should be given the right to teach his or her students in whatever way he or she sees fit. I mean, we go to school to learn strategies to help us teach, we learn from experience and working with all types of students, and above all, teaching is a profession.  Teachers are professionals.  They should be able to make their own decisions about how they think their students would best learn material, rather than read from a script.

When learning about scripted curriculum, I wondered how many teachers actually stick to the script they are given.  Our class talked with a professor who has experienced scripted curriculum, and he said that while many teachers do stick to the script, others only loosely stick to it.  Teachers who work in a system in which scripted curriculum is implemented are held accountable for sticking to the script, but some feel that it is extremely difficult to do this.  What if a child asks a question that leads to an important, yet unscripted, discussion about the topic at hand?  Many teachers feel that they should be able to answer questions (I mean, that’s part of how kids learn, right?) and if they lead to an important discussion, the discussion should be had despite the fact that it goes against the “script”.

Another question I had about scripted curriculum was how teachers felt about it.  Do teachers feel trapped and unable to practice their craft when given a script? I bet I would feel this way.  I’ve learned that while some teachers agree with the idea of scripted curriculum, most are frustrated and even offended by the idea that they must read from a script rather than practice teaching in whatever way they see fit.

What do you think about scripted curriculum? Were you aware of this method of teaching? Do you think that it takes away the real art of teaching from teachers? How do you think it effects the students and their learning?


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