From 2003 to 2005 there was a TV series from TLC called, “Clean Sweep.” On this show the host would go into peoples’ homes who had rooms that were filled with junk and help de-clutter them. They would take everything out of the room and put it all in 3 separate piles: keep, sell, or toss. Once the room was cleared, a design team would come in and re-imagine the space so it met the homeowners’ needs. On occasion, we need to do the same thing with our content. We need to stop and consider whether what we are teaching and asking students to do is really adding value. It is also important to consider if there is too much content in a course. If student learning hinges on significant amounts of homework either there is too much content or we need a new way of delivering the material.
How to de-clutter your curriculum:
- Empty it out. Make a list of everything. What is it that you teach? What are the tasks, projects, and tests that you give?
- Put it all in 3 separate piles: keep, toss, or modify. Keep what is still worth teaching and toss what isn’t. Toss anything that is outdated. Keep only the tasks that are really helping students learn. Modify the assessments so they truly represent student proficiency.
- Re-design and re-imagine. Once you’ve purged yourself of the weight of all the “junk” in your curriculum you’ll have room to put it together again in a fresh new way. Focus on efficiency. The right thing to do is let go of some “good stuff” in order to focus on the “best stuff.“