When did content trump learning?

I know it sounds like such a stupid question….and maybe content has always trumped actual learning but I continue to find myself in conversations that end with:

“I’d love to do so much more, but we have to cover all this content and I just don’t have time.”

Why is that? Why is content…which is now available anywhere and everywhere still what we feel like we have to do as teachers. I hate to say it but I think I got out of the classroom just in the nick of time. I would be considered a horrible teacher today. We use to go off on tangents in my classroom that could last for weeks. Somebody would bring something up and we’d run with it asking questions, answering questions and find ourselves in a whole other place be the time we were done. Off topic? Yes. Fun? Absolutely! Did we learn anything? More than I could have imagined!

But it seems today at all grade levels we’re so focused on covering content for this test, or by that date, that learning…..real true deep learning gets skipped over. Personally I find that very depressing.

Yes….I’m afraid I’d be a bad teacher today. I’d be the person who’d close their door so that nobody else could see that I wasn’t “on task” and yet my students would be among the most connected in the school. Our learning would revolve around what my school is calling it’s Definition of Learning:

Our learners develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes by connecting prior learning to new experiences.  The most significant learning generates increased understanding and can be seen in our expanded capacities to analyze, synthesize, reflect, apply and communicate our new learnings in a variety of situations.  At ISB, we recognize learning as a life-long adventure.

I could almost garuntee we wouldn’t cover the “curriculum” but we’d learn a lot about a lot of things and have a heck of a lot of fun figuring it all out together.