Whatever happened to Content Mastery?

Twenty-five years ago I took some time off from the law firm and volunteered to work as a teacher’s aide for a week at various Texas school districts. I’m relaying my memories of this adventure on Fridays here at the Daily Dawg. Last week I told you about my first stop in Liberty Hill ISD. The next stop was Cedar Park Middle School in Leander ISD.

I was assigned to Content Mastery. Whatever happened to Content Mastery? It was the Big Deal for awhile, but I have not heard that term in a long time. Are schools still doing this? Was it replaced by RtI?

What I recall from my week in Leander is the “regulars”—the kids who came in for some help every day. I remember one in particular. He was obviously a bright kid, with a friendly and engaging personality. I helped him focus on math problems and other assignments. A lot of the work consisted of worksheets, which brought to mind my son’s observation about his public school experience: “Dad, you can’t imagine how boring it is.” The worksheets were boring.

I found it slightly disrespectful that the students never called the teacher by her name. Instead she was referred to simply as “Miss.” I wondered if they didn’t know her name. I guess a lot of other labels could have been used that would have been more rude, but I found it a bit dehumanizing that Ms. Gauna was never called Ms. Gauna. Nor was I Mr. Walsh. I was “Sir.”

We had some downtime in the CM room and so after the first few days I decided to bring along something to read. My regular CM kid saw me reading a magazine and asked what I was reading. The following exchange took place:

KID: Sir, what are you reading?
ME: American Heritage magazine. It’s about American History.
KID: Sir, I thought you were finished with school.
ME: I am.
KID: Then why are you reading a magazine about American History?
ME: Because I find it interesting.
Long pause…..
KID: Sir, you frighten me.

That was satisfying. I felt that my work in Leander was done.

On to Killeen and the behavior unit.


Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at jwalsh@wabsa.com.