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A scripted lesson may work well for teachers who are new to the profession and have little or no experience to guide them. I strongly support a clearly defined sequential curriculum for elementary music, but the method needs to be flexible enough to account for the many variables that occur in this field. Teachers should be treated like professionals and valued for their knowledge and expertise.
A good teacher is going to be a good teacher no matter what. Would I want all of my curriculum to be scripted? Absolutely not. But I probably lean a little toward defending it because my school has a scripted phonics program. I can see its benefits especially for beginning teachers. Do I read from the script? No. I leaned on it at first, but while I still use the same program after 10+ years I do not rely on its script. What I do appreciate is being confident and knowing that I am covering everything I need to cover in the area of phonics. I know phonics is a bad word to some teachers, but I'm sorry, phonics is important. It is a tool to help children learn to decode. It is one strategy, and in no way the end all. I also am a firm believer in reading and writing workshop, and project based learning. I believe in BOTH phonics and whole language experiences for students. As different as our children are, how can any teacher worth his or her salt say definitively that one works and another doesn't. I am confident that someone has done all the work for me to include all the letters sounds, the digraphs, the dipthongs, the spelling rules, etc., and for that reason I like our scripted phonics program. However, I make it my own. I add things to it and I throw others out; so in a sense I supposed that doesn't make it truly scripted.
In four Latin American countries including Honduras, educators have employed APREMAT for years. APREMAT is a math on the radio program that consists of three sets of 150 20 minute recorded math lessons with songs. One set for each grade level including, first, second and third grade. The research done in 2006(that meets IES clinical trials requirements) demonstrates that if a student completes 100 of the 150 math lessons the pass the grade level math exam and get to move to the next grade. The level of proficiency required is higher than that of the State of California and the standards are nearly identical. So yes scripted programs work fine in the real world. I won't bother to point out the Japanese system which is very scripted as well. Just compare the international rankings of the Japanese in Math to our students.
In Reading the www.headsprout.com takes any student from early phonics to early reading or their money back. So yes in specific subject areas scripted learning is proven to be highly effective, cost efficient and able to achieve remarkable results in harsh educational environments (The jungles of Honduras).
A huge portion of districts local to my own are adopting SpringBoard, a scripted curriculum developed by the CollegeBoard. (I cringe to think how much money is being absorbed from funding-poor districts by the CollegeBoard through this process.)
Mike Smoker is on record as saying that a common and viable curriculum is the single most important factor for a school's success. I know where he is coming from here--same resources, same materials, same assessments, same reteaching, same activities--gotta be a good thing, right? Uniformity is so pleasing! This is the general direction PLCs are gravitating anyway. The DuFours say one of the gravest tragedies in education is for a good teacher to teach down the hall from a poor teacher. Scripted curriculum was inevitable I guess.
The only benefit I can see in using a scripted curriculum is that A) "Drive-by" school and district admins and other officials can rest easy knowing every single teacher is teaching the exact same thing, and not have to wonder what's going on in certain classrooms (in lieu of actually visiting those classrooms with any degree of frequency, establishing professional relationships with those in their school and district, and so on) and B) I'd *guess* that the students in the class of very weak teachers may benefit from having a decent curriculum taught poorly by a weak teacher (as opposed to that same weak teacher delivering even weaker instruction). However, for the vast majority of teachers, scripted curriculum is the death-knell of the teaching process.
This is simply a case of clueless (and understandably frustrated) decision-makers higher-up covering their own rear-ends by adopting something "common"and "rigorous" that can be "aligned" and all of the other buzzwords that make these folks sleep good at night, when the problem really boils down to irrelevant and meaningless standards that have produced rows and rows of brain-dead students that see no real-world relevance or connection between the K-12 process and their daily lives. What can you expect when you teach students that the reason to do math is to "balance your checkbook" or "be an engineer."This type of reasoning is crap, and spread over 12 years kills student curiosity.
I'm rambling now.Scripted curriculum is a crutch at best (and this is being very generous), and at worst ruins what should be an organic and natural mix of the art and science of teaching. Until teachers are able to design powerful and relevant instruction on their own--and until students willfully adopt ownership of this powerful and relevant learning--nothing will work, and the teaching and learning process will be reduced to lock-step numbing of student curiosity and passion for lifelong learning.
In response to John Wibbens: Here!! Here!!