I’m a huge fan of the BBC show Dr. Who. He is a science fiction character which travels through time and fixes wrongs and saves worlds and civilizations with quirky companions. He will point out however that certain events in history are fixed points. For good or bad, these points can’t be changed. For example, the Titanic ALWAYS sinks and Van Goethe creates beautiful works of art. Regardless of the influences of the Doctor, fixed points (events) in time remain unchanged.
I’ve come to think of curriculum in the same manner: there are fixed points which teachers need to teach regardless of how many changes we go through. Students must be literate, functional knowedge of math and a working —- of the world around them. College and/or career ready when they leave high school.
Society’s definitions of college and/or career readiness have changed over time. My Grandmother was brilliant with only an 8th grade education. She could name every president and his vice president through her lifetime at the age of 88. She could name all 50 states and their state capitols. She however spelled the word “any” as “eny”. In 1911 the state of Indiana deemed her career ready and she graduated 8th grade. At the age of 14, she began working at the Indiana Glass Factory. Times have certainly changed. Or have they?
At the recent Innovations in Learn Conference, I had the pleasure of listening to —- and —– from Australia, a country with a better PISA score than the US. They wow-ed us with their talk of open classrooms and multi-level learning environments which focus completely on project based assessments. “Innovative” “Exciting” “Inspiring”, came the comments. Eager to share the excitement, I came home to my family. I shared with them this new idea of grouping students from different levels based of interests regardless of age in and open environment. From the mouth of my son came, “Oh, you mean like a one-room school house.” Hmmm. Food for thought.
As the US begins to implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS), are we really changing that much? CCSS are based on college/career readiness principals. From 1911 until now, that seems to be a common thread. Technology changes. Are we producing written works on a piece of slate or on an iPad? Expectations change. Careers have changed with the advancing technologies. What has stayed the same is that teacher use curriculum to help students become good, productive citizens as investments in our future.