Just who are we teaching? I wondered as I read the Common Core Curriculum Maps--"model" curricula that attempt to explicate the new common core state standards for English language arts. One method (Socratic Seminar) and one literary theory (New Criticism) undergird the mile wide and inch deep maps at the secondary level. I was reminded while reading the long lists of texts of Dennis Sumara’s (1996) characterization of the teacher as tour guide. Sumara writes, “Curriculum is a normalizing experience…Teachers become tour guides, showing students which sites must be noticed... As a daily performance, teaching becomes a pointing ritual that seldom pierces underneath the skin of the everyday” (p. 233).
Missing from these maps is the 21st century. No hyperbole intended. It is as if the teachers who wrote these maps were unaware of the digital world and the students they teach. In the school district where I work, students are composing research by collaboratively building knowledge by sharing annotations through Diigo. Here students are connecting with learners beyond the classroom through skype to learn with and from others. Teachers and students are collaborating through google docs, posing questions and posting comments to one another through a Moodle account. Stories don't rest on paper exclusively in these classrooms as teachers and students compose, mix, and remix text using a variety of media and tools.
It is rather shocking that the new common core curriculum maps at best posit a world long gone and then offer us that world as if it was relevant. The Common Core Curriculum Maps are a dead end. We need to occasion powerful producers and consumers of text, not by following maps already made, but by lighting out for the new territory along with our students. As Huck told us so long ago: "I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I've been there before."
Haven't we all.