The field of education is constantly evolving. We’re a “know better, do better” kind of profession. But that doesn’t mean that we (or perhaps more accurately, the powers that actually make decisions in education) always get it right. For every great trend (looking at you, anti-racist professional development), there’s an equally terrible one (lesson plan submission, anyone?). Following are the current teaching trends we believe we’ll look back on and ask ourselves, “What were we thinking?”:
1. Standardized Testing
Our fixation on standardized assessment is a plague on our educational system. And the absolute rigidity with which we approach it is shameful. Instead of doing what we’ve always done, we should be evaluating the practice entirely. We’ve known for a long time that this type of assessment doesn’t give a full picture of the whole child and that it takes away valuable time and resources from authentic teaching. So why are we still doing it? *looks pointedly at test-making companies*
2. Sky-High Kindergarten Expectations
Kindergarten has experienced a shift since the late 1990s. With increased emphasis on student achievement and the establishment of standards, expectations that were once relegated to first and second graders moved down to 5-year-olds. But kindergarten was designed as a place for children to play, explore, and develop social skills. Frankly, we sacrifice this at our own peril (and that of the children in our care) because these skills are preconditions of academic learning. Frustrated with kindergarten burnout (how is that a thing?), more teachers and parents are pushing back and calling for focus on life skills.
3. Artificial Intelligence Replacing Human Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used in blended and personalized learning, but experts expect its use to grow significantly in the coming years. It seems schools will be at the center of this technological “revolution.” Education leader Sir Anthony Sheldon claims that intelligent machines will replace teachers by 2027. Excuse us, but what? Teaching is perhaps the most human of endeavors. Pardon us if we don’t think that robots could ever have the empathy, passion, and grit required to do what we do every day.
4. The Gamification of … Everything
There’s something to be said for games in the classroom. We love Kahoots as much as the next teacher. They’re fun and engaging, increase participation, and provide great practice opportunities. However, not everything can or needs to be gamified for kids. And not all teachers are equipped to integrate gaming elements, which results in ineffective games that don’t help students meet learning objectives. Furthermore, online games tend to rely on rewards, points, and badges—in other words, extrinsic motivators. The last thing we want is to send students the message that learning isn’t inherently meaningful.
5. Curriculum That Dictates the Exact Words Teachers Say, the Exact Page They’re On, and Just About Everything Else
Sorry not sorry, but requiring teachers to follow a script while delivering a lesson was never going to work. Scripted curriculum materials focus on explicit instruction, discrete skills, and rote learning. Scripted curriculum does not allow for the flexibility that the classroom demands. It’s a “one size most certainly does not fit all” approach. It fails to address the diverse needs of students, takes away time from content areas like social studies and science, and squashes creativity. It might provide some structure to a teacher who doesn’t yet feel confident in their skills, but basically, it’s everything we hate.