Teacher’s “Free” Agency: Written in Sand

Education is political. The budget, the decisions, the curriculum is provided to you by the Ministry of Education, our representative in the Saskatchewan provincial government.

Teachers, while once given the opportunity to work together over summer to create the curriculum and earn their masters (as we learned from Mike in class Monday), have limited input with curriculum outcomes. Today, teachers are the puppets; we put forth our best, most energetic, engaging attempts to reach the outcomes in the curriculum provided by the ministry.

While this could, and does, cause outrage for some- is it really necessary?

At first glance, it is easy to feel there is too much, not enough, many marks completely missed- and what is with that new aged math curriculum!? When we are given curriculum by others that does not fit with what we want to teach, we, as teachers, feel we have no agency in the curriculum.

I feel it is a blurred line.

“Outcomes are written in stone, indicators in sand.” Mike shared this quote Monday and, upon reflecting on that quote in addition to what agency I have in the curriculum as a teacher- I realize I have more power with the curriculum than meets the eye. Because the indicators are in sand.

I can reach outcomes in anyway I want, as long as I reach that bolded outcome. Realizing the indicators are “helpful” suggestions, I also realize I am more than a puppet. I can teach the provided curriculum how I want; it is my discretion on what will indicate my students reached the outcome. Thus, if I feel outcomes IN5.1 and 5.2 are missing some key indicators to truly be able to demonstrate understanding of our Aboriginal heritage of Canada and our multicultural evolution, I can teach based on my own indicators. I do have the ability to ensure I provide students the knowledge I feel is necessary to demonstrate understanding of the outcome. Knowing I do have space in the curriculum to include what is important to me, provides a feeling of relief and empowerment in the classroom- I do have power as a teacher, I can mould the indicators to include the information I feel is important but is not found bolded or italicized in our handy curriculum document.

So, while I may not be provided the chisel and stone, I am provided the classroom and pointer stick to write in the sand- a powerful tool after all.


2 thoughts on “Teacher’s “Free” Agency: Written in Sand

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. It is great the connections you make to the seminars and the lectures we have. You just have a real good taste in digging deeper. I like the relation to teachers are puppets, because we really do see it in schools today. You do what is written and told. We as future educators and new teachers should focus on the outcomes and make our own ways of teaching successfully. It is important not to only do the indicators, because they are just suggestions. I think you will be a good teacher in the future.

    Yours truly,
    Zak k


  2. Hello Jasmine, I really enjoyed reading your post! I agree with that because the indicators are written in sand, we can chose which indicators we want to follow, if any at all. I think that seeing the curriculum as a “guide” and not as a “do or die” document is something that is important for teachers to recognize, and you have displayed that here. Very well written post, and I hope you have a wonderful break! 🙂


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