Canned Curriculum: Ditch it. The Creative is You.

Mariah Rankine-Landers
11 min readDec 30, 2019

I have a real distaste for canned curriculum. The memories of being forced to follow a pacing guide, being reprimanded if I wasn’t on the same page as the other teachers, making photocopies of worksheets, and being bored out of my mind while I read a script to my students… it sends shivers down my spine. I did not spend precious years of my life engaged in deeply understanding the world and its complexities to be told by a set of unknown individuals working at a corporate firm what to teach and how to teach it. Canned curriculum is the marker of a society that gave up and gave in to mediocrity.

Our Collective Responsibility

I’m a believer that a holistic, culturally responsive, arts-centered, liberatory education is our collective responsibility as educators. We owe it to the future to rethink who we are, what content we deliver and our methodology to meet learning goals. Canned curriculum is devoid of the ingredients for a holistic, culturally responsive, arts-centered, liberatory education.

We deny our students access to the range of their minds and full selves when we rely on biased lessons that center a white dominant narrative, when we ignore who they are, when we ignore what neuroscience and cognitive science tell us about how we learn, and when we allow established “teach to the test” norms to dictate the flow, aesthetic and culture of our classrooms.

It is our collective responsibility to make sure we compliment the future with humans equipped for critical thought and critical engagement. Are you ready?

In The Beginning

My first teaching assignment was at a Montessori Charter School. We learned methodology but were not handed a compiled curriculum to teach the classroom. That would have been against the agency of the learner. Maria Montessori’s pedagogy is about following the curiosity of the child and guiding them along a path of discovery, allowing them to soak up the world around them as they engage in meaning making. This was a predominantly white school. I learned a lot, but I left because I wanted to serve and work with children who were Black, like me.

Teaching Turned Terrible

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Mariah Rankine-Landers

Mariah Rankine-Landers, Ed.M co-leads Studio Pathways for transformative school and organizational change that centers the cultural and contemporary arts.