How far and how fast can we run away from Springboard?
Thursday was a good day at school, not only because of my wonderful students, but because our 12th grade PLC (Professional Learning Community) agreed with me about the general terrible tone and quality of the Springboard Senior English curriculum. We agreed to drop it and return to the “normal” world of actually teaching British Literature and Expository Writing. What a relief!
The Common Core Springboard curriculum that we are being strongly encouraged–read forced–to teach contains very little British Literature. It is populated with nonfiction texts that could have been sourced from Brit Lit, but were not. For example, for the “stranger in the village” concept, why did the authors choose James Baldwin instead of Grendel, the villain/outsider in Beowulf? There are numerous cases throughout the book (such as Jamaica Kincaid complaining about British colonialism in the Caribbean) that could have used better, less biased, actual British literary sources.
In fact, even the wording of the short author biographies shows an aversion to virtually anything favorable about western civilization. For example, “…Antigua, an island that would not gain full independence from British colonial rule until 1981” and “…the effects and aftereffects of colonialism, and alienation more generally” from page 40 about Jamaica Kincaid.
I have agonized over the fact that while students are reading the pre-selected texts (including eight articles about the Dixie Chicks), they are missing the foundational literature of our society: Beowulf, Chaucer, Arthurian legend, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and 1984, to name a few. A colleague at our meeting commented on how the teachers’ faces lit up when talking about teaching these works.
Final assessment after five weeks of applying myself diligently to learning and teaching the Springboard curriculum in both 11th and 12th grades: I hate it, my students would like to read some actual books, and I feel my integrity as a teacher is lost if I continue down the Springboard path.