Deborah Meier - Shares
Its a nice thought--that it [Common Core] is offering a "common language". I wish it were. But common core as presently understood is a 13 year mandatory curriculum (developed largely by experts in testing, not the subject matter being tested) of what is to be taught--and in what sequence. It ignores the power of the interests and ideas that come from students and teachers as the basis for forming curriculum"--or of picking up from the world around us our "curriculum". Starting "where we are" intellectually and moving out from there--a common approach to thematic studies, for example. Or spending months on one "small" part of history or science, in order to be able to ask deeper questions and make deeper sense--rather than covering" a lot in order to be prepared for shallow tests. (Uncovering vs covering as we sometimes say.) etc, etc.In the schools I’ve worked in we were able to spend months on the Constitution (if we chose to) and thus less on other aspects of American history. We could focus long enough and deeply enough to engage in projects, to question the evidence, to weigh one source over another, to imagine other possibilities, to look for patterns, to acknowledge disagreements, etc, etc. We could return to last year's themes and subject matter as it cropped up gain in the context of this year. It enabled Mission Hill to study the same topics in all grades, Kgtn to 8th grade at the same time and thus turn the whole school community into a shared learning experience, and to lie out the idea that we're never "done", there is always more to learn about the same subject in new and different ways.
It also enabled us to give younger students the experience of watching older students and vice versa as they observed each other's work. It turned our hallways into lively places for common study, made it easier to have a wide range of books on the same topics, bring in experts from outside, and on and on. In all the schools I've worked in and with we've also been able to set aside time from the exploration of our private, personal passions and see where they took us individually or as a group. It meant, of course, a different way of assessing young people's work. What we developed instead was a "common" set of questions, habits of mind we called them, for getting at what we were trying to make sense of. It also meant that we spent two years covering "less" than one year's high school physics course. And on and on.
Reading The Power of Their Ideas or In Schools We Trust may give you some sense of what such a curriculum might look like. Or read an old book--36 Children by Herb Kohl. Suggestions, from others?
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