“Revolutionize Curriculum”? – Madison School’s Proposed Strategic Plan

I supported use of the term “revolutionize curriculum” as part of the proposed Madison School District Strategic Plan. The words contained in the document can likely be used to support any number of initiatives.
The term “revolutionize” appealed to me because I believe the School District should get out of the curriculum creation business (generally, the “Teaching & Learning Department“).
I believe, in this day and age, we should strive to hire the best teachers (with content knowledge) available and let them do their jobs. One school district employee could certainly support an online knowledge network. Madison has no shortage of curricular assets, including the UW Math Department, History, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Sports and Languages. MATC, Edgewood College, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater and Northern Illinois are additional nearby resources.
Finally, there are many resources available online, such as MIT’s open courseware.
I support “revolutionizing” the curriculum by pursuing best practices from those who know the content.
Dictonary.com: “revolutionize“.
Britannica on revolution.

5 thoughts on ““Revolutionize Curriculum”? – Madison School’s Proposed Strategic Plan”

  1. what do you feel are the important next steps needed to move in a direction(s) that will revolutionize MMSD’s curriculum? how will we know we are on paths that will lead to a revolutionized curriculum?

  2. Two things to watch:
    1. The Math curriculum: Will it continue on the path of the past decade where rigor is reduced?
    Or, will we see a “revolution” as the District adopts and implements a math curriculum supported by UW Math Department professors?
    2. Credit for non-MMSD classes. UW-Madison Professor Janet Mertz has pursued this issues for years….
    The Madison area offers a rich academic environment. Our children should benefit from this proximity, along with the growing availability of useful online courses.
    The action (or lack thereof) on these two items will certainly indicate progress, in my opinion.

  3. I hope the same approach is applied to the recommendations that go to the School Board next month on arts education.

  4. I oppose the use of “revolutionize” for a school
    program. This has been done by the Madison
    Metropolitan School District by the use of an
    elementary school program which comes from
    binders developed in Madison. See the fraction
    of teachers using this as their primary
    resource in the Math Task Force Report. MMSD
    should not be encouraged to do revolutionary
    work like this, which I am afraid will happen
    even more if they are told to “revolutionize”
    their program.
    I support the two suggestions made by Jim
    Zellmer when he explained what he thinks
    “revolution” should be. Relative to the
    second point, when our son was at West High,
    he took calculus and chemistry at UW his
    senior year. That was over 30 years ago.

  5. I don’t like the word “revolutionize” in the strategic plan. In fact, I’m not too keen on adjectives in general.
    I’m not keen on MMSD developing curriculum either, not because of some theoretical or policy belief, but because the developed curriculum has not been successful. But, I don’t find it reasonable that the burden of developing the curriculum should then fall to the individual teacher/content expert, and I think it unreasonable to believe that somehow the existence of content experts at the nearby Universities/colleges can be relevant. There is a vast difference between having content knowledge available from online resources or at higher education institutions and the content of a curriculum.
    Okay, if a high school student happens to be functioning at the college level, the college-level courses are just fine; otherwise I don’t see the point.
    I can’t say I’m disappointed in the contents of the Strategic Plan, as it’s just as bad as I had expected — maybe even worse. I’ll have to scour the document in detail to find anything that is good about it — nothing jumped out at me during the first reading.
    I don’t find Jim’s suggestion of “hire the best teachers .. and let them do their jobs” as a formula for success, or even understandable. “Best” is just another adjective, meaningless in most contexts — and certainly here. This is a standardless criterion, akin hiring someone and “hoping for the best”. “Let them do their jobs” is a non-starter. Unless the teachers are independent contractors who come in to the system with their own resources, MMSD is going to have to pay for the resources a teacher needs — that is, MMSD has to have some standards. Or, are we going to agree that it is good to have 4000 different curricula?

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