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 Is there such a thing as a ‘non-scripted’ lesson?
The ’scripted-lesson’ agenda has really arisen from a much larger debate on potential return of ‘neo-trad’ methodologies. This discussion arouses passions, as
it should, and whichever point on the spectrum one may stand on this issue, it is good re ective practice for consideration. As far as ‘scripted lessons’ are concerned, the main concern for many seems to be the potential loss of teacher autonomy.
The basic fact is the National Curriculum for England provides
a ‘script’. Having read the document from cover to cover,
and it is well worth it in the context of curriculum design for schools at home and overseas,
it provides a workable outline.
At best it is visionary, largely
about the aspirations for our young people. At worst it is
a sensible compromise over sometimes emotive content and skills. However, there can be
no denying it is a script. It is
then for curriculum leaders and individual teachers to interpret within the given restraints of time and resources/funding. The script becomes more prescribed when formative assessment, at whichever age and stage, becomes involved. ‘Teaching to the exam’ is probably recognised in theory as a poor motivator but, in truth, who does not do it? The examination boards are much more powerful agents in this scenario than we realise. This is also a very topical discussion
as in other countries there is
far greater synergy between the curriculum, the teacher and the examiner.
Therefore, we have two very powerful forces pushing towards inevitable scripting. There are others; the immense value of collaborative planning amongst teachers, the ability to ‘team- teach’, the concept of re ective practice and perhaps the time saved from re-inventing the wheel and sharing the load.
So, what would a ‘non-scripted’ lesson look like given the
above? It could be argued that all classroom practitioners need some space and time within the bigger picture to go ‘off-script’. This may be a speci c planned time in a lesson, a speci c lesson in a topic or most importantly
to follow student interest. Planning to go ‘off-script’ maybe something of an oxymoron but it is where teacher autonomy and good practice come to the fore. There is a real need, given the overwhelming list of constraints, for practitioners to show the depth of their knowledge and skills to make lessons ‘interesting’ if not ‘entertaining’. Some may argue, often through rose-tinted spectacles, that this is where learning really is. The truth of
the matter is more prosaic; there must be an awful lot of routine delivered before any  ights of fancy may be undertaken.
An unscripted lesson would presumably look at other
dimensions of the topic under consideration. A time to explore the wider context or to hone in on a speci c area of the topic that has excited the imagination of the students. Perhaps, in the broadest sense, it may return the teacher to that seemingly now forgotten topic of the hidden curriculum. In many ways, the complete red herring may have real human and intellectual value. As someone who would always choose one of the more unusual topics in the syllabus to widen perspectives, this often led to unseen bene ts both in terms of taking the heat of the ‘favourite’ themes and teaching some often challenging detail by stealth.
The real value of having a script is to make certain the prescribed body of knowledge and skills are taught in each
subject area. It may also
alleviate certain inevitable areas of delivery weakness through pooled knowledge and resources. However, the many years spent
as teacher in front of a class would soon become very tedious delivering the script ‘dead-pan’. The importance of the teacher
in this process will never go
away. Yes, there may be all kinds of technological proposals and solutions - AI and similar - but the enemy of all thought must be robotic delivery and the inevitable ensuing boredom.
Therefore, although the system is based to a huge extent on a script, the classroom teacher still has a vast amount of autonomy on how this is delivered. This remains a great attraction of the profession.
2007-2017 Chair Head Bursar Registrar Staffroom School Of ce
...the professional journal for Management & Staff
September 2017
2007-2017 Chair Head Bursar Registrar Staffroom School Of ce
...the professional journal for Management & Staff
October 2017
Tim Wilbur is Director of School Consultancy at Gabbitas Education.
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Independent Schools Magazine 33
On reading the various articles on scripted lessons which seem to have become prevalent in the press over the last few months, the thought occurs whether it is possible to deliver a truly non-scripted lesson? Furthermore, what might this look like from a teaching and learning perspective and what value might it have? Tim Wilbur re ects...

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