When I began teaching in 1952, the professional literature had much to say about individualizing instruction, teaching thinking skills, preparing the young for democratic citizenship, respecting the integrated nature of knowledge, solving social problems, expanding self-knowledge, transmitting societal values, and so on. And on.
Now, more than a half-century later, the literature reads about the same (except maybe for "developing 21st Century skills," whatever those are). Cut through the ideology-driven hype, wishful thinking, sales pitches, fads, re-naming exercises, statistical games, and stump-speechifying, and if anything of real consequence has changed, it's escaped my notice.
I think we've flat-lined because we're trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear-trying to do wonderful things with a fundamentally flawed, 19th Century curriculum that's at odds with both the seamless nature of knowledge and with how the brain works. The current "rigor" push-doing what we've always done, except harder-just compounds the problems.
So, with my brother's help, I've assembled an alternative general education curriculum based on systems theory rather than on the academic disciplines, and put it online. In the spirit of "open source" or "open content" offerings, it can be downloaded and used. Free. No strings attached.
I see it as a rough draft. Believing that if curricular reform is to have more than a snowball's chance of being accepted it has to come not from Washington or state capitol mandates but from the "bottom up," I've accompanied it with provision for user dialog, feedback, elaboration, etc.
You're invited to take a look, to forward it on to others you think might be interested, and at the very least to accept that alternatives to the present fragmented, 1892 curriculum are possible.
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A Gift From Marion Brady
Educator, administrator, and author Marion Brady sent me this email this morning. I hope you will investigate his new site, which offers some essential ideas and guidance in how we, as a species, may live and prosper through the 21st Century, rather than die in it: