To the Editor:
I am writing in regard to Jennifer Henderson’s CTQ Collaboratory opinion piece, “How I Learned to Let Go of My Lesson Plan and Seize a Teachable Moment.”
In the piece, Henderson describes how she saw an opportunity to have her students think and seized it. Good for her. But she is bound by convention and her preparation when she says: “There is nothing wrong with lesson plans; they guide the development of the skills and knowledge my students need to be successful. However, don’t be afraid to let go of those plans every once in a while, and grab hold of those teachable moments and unique opportunities to make learning authentic, real, and powerful.”
In the abstract, I agree with her that lesson plans are needed. Nevertheless, in practice, I would argue that there is something wrong with them. Lesson plans are based on static views of subject matter that lead to rote-inducing, serialism-based instruction. This is why, with current lesson plans, learning is not routinely “authentic, real, and powerful” when it comes to developing critical thinking, reading, and writing skills while engaging new and revisited subject matter.
Getting students to think should not be a matter of rare “teachable moments” or “unique opportunities.” I’ve always thought the phrase “teachable moment” was demeaning to the teaching profession. Where would we be if our doctors, engineers, and lawyers only had “medical,” “engineering,” or “legal” moments?
Victor P. Maiorana
Deer Park, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the November 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Lesson Plans Versus Reliance On Rare ‘Teachable Moments’