Teaching Materials

From a pedantic curriculum director[mfn]Written as a spoof in 1991.[/mfn]

blog post
Chair, Department of Social Studies
RE: inquiry about using the document entitled Declaration of Independence as supplemental material in your United States history classes.

Unfortunately, the document as a whole fails to meet the District’s recently adopted specifications for proposals of teaching material to be included in the supplemental materials pool for use in the above mentioned studies.

In this regard the committee has the following questions for your explanation to verify the worth of the document.
  1. In the opening paragraph the phrase “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” is used.

    What are these laws? In what way are they the criteria on which the central arguments are based? Please document with verifiable citations from recent literature.

  2. In the same paragraph the document refers to the “opinions of mankind.”

    Whose polling data was used? Without specific evidence, it seems to us, the “opinions of mankind” are justifiably considered a matter of opinion.

  3. It continues by stating that certain truths are “self-evident.” Please elaborate.

    If they are as evident as claimed, then it should not be difficult for you to locate the appropriate supporting educational statistics.

  4. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness” seems to be the goal in the overall message of the document. These are not measurable goals by current definition!

    If it were to say something like: “among these is the ability to sustain an average life expectancy in 60% of an identifiable population of at least 60 years, and to enable all newspapers to print news without outside[mfn]Outside must be clearly defined over and above self-evident.[/mfn] interference, and to raise the average income of afore mentioned population by 10% in the next 10 years” the goals would be measurable.

    We certainly do not want to discuss goals that cannot be measured on a currently acceptable scale.

  5. It further says “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute a new Government…”

    Can you provide grammatical proof that ‘these ends’ is antecedent to unmeasurable goals afore mentioned? Do you believe the general population and specifically students will be able to weigh this assertion against all alternatives? Or was the authors’ statement predicated solely on the baser instincts?

  6. The description of the situation that may or may not have existed at the time is quite extensive. For the document to meet current educational writing standards, such a long list of grievances should precede the statement of goals, not follow it.
  7. A strategy for achieving the goal is not at all developed in the document. It states that the colonies[mfn]keeping in mind and document that colonies no longer exist in this union[/mfn] “ought to be Free and Independent States,” and that they are “Absolved from all Allegiance of the British Crown.”

    For the document to be useful to meet current criteria the following questions should have been addressed. Who or what must change to achieve the objective? In what way must they change? What specific steps must be taken to overcome the resistance? How long will it take?

  8. Who among the list of signatories was responsible for implementing the strategy? Who conceived it? Who provided the theoretical research? What measurement instruments were used and was valid documentation used? Is there a usable evaluation design in the archives?
  9. What impact will the supplemental material have on your program? Your failure to include any assessment of this inspires little confidence in the long-range prospects of your using this document called Declaration of Independence in your department.
  10. In addition to answering each of the questions in the nine items above, please submit a PERT diagram, an activity chart and an itemized budget.

Remember that in all cases, based on investigational observations, the incorporation of additional teaching constraints or liberties is further compounded when taking into account the evolution of interpretive criteria over a given time period.

I. Kuda Gotcha