The Saber-Tooth Curriculum
Harold Benjamin

The Saber-Tooth Curriculum is described as being, “A classic of educational criticism that proves its relevance in light of today’s educational quandaries.”  I would certainly agree with this description, but this is quite disturbing because The Saber-Tooth Curriculum was first published more than 65 years ago.

The Saber-Tooth Curriculum describes how educators tend to cling to the same patterns of education.  When we finally recognize the need to add new content to the curriculum, we are still resistant to change our methods of instruction or to delete outdated information from the curriculum.  We tend to add and add without make other necessary adaptations.  Perhaps the malformed backs of the current generation of students will finally catch our attention.  We adopted new literature books this year.  Each book weighs over seven pounds, most students take seven academic courses, and the walking distance to school for high school students is up to one mile.  

The Saber-Tooth Curriculum illustrates the importance of continually reviewing, revising, and improving our pedagogical practices based upon current and anticipated future needs.  Sometimes what we learn in the past is valuable and can be applicable to current needs, but we cannot blindly continue doing what we’ve always done or we become vulnerable and ineffective.  

Educators must continue to see themselves as learners to adequately teach their students.  I am so frustrated that such a high percentage of teachers do not like putting themselves in the role of learner as adults.  Would we be comfortable and confident visiting a doctor who didn’t maintain current certifications?  Certainly not.  Professionals must stay current and continue learning to remain effective.  Unfortunately, it is often the poor quality of teacher training that squelches teacher enthusiasm for learning.

It was also interesting to see in later readings, such as Levy and Murnane’s A New Division of Labor and Friedman’s The World is Flat, how modern day examples of a failure to adapt our teachings can affect economies and societies.  We must remember these potentially destructive real world consequences for our failure to adequately plan and prepare students for their futures.