Inculcating School curriculum with innovative subjects : sustainability, arts appreciation, ethics

Submitted by More Better on Thu, 11/03/2005 - 17:47.

Post your comments and ideas regarding innovation in school curriculum

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Why these changes are so critical...

I see so much value in changing curriculum content to introduce certain critical concepts that have not seemed to sink in with the majority population of our region.  If we can all see and envision the value in having a culture here in NEO that greatly appreciates the arts and understands why sustainability is so critical to our region we'll be on our way.  There is a great opportunity to instill these teachings and values with our young people.  Unfortunately this matter comes down to deeply entrenched paradigms that are deeply resistant to change.  One level of resistance comes from NEO's blue-collar masses - who may view certain cultural events as snooty, or too expensive, or both.  Personally I believe these folks can be directly influenced by incentive programs that lower cost barriers and give people that critical first exposure to certain arts events.  Yet I come back to education and curriculum change as a great change opportunity for a number of reasons:

a.  behaviors haven't become as entrenched in young people

b.  young people can transfer knowledge to parents and even convince

     them to participate -attend arts events, recycle, compost, etc.

 c.  schools can influence many young people at once



How do we make curriculum change happen?

So now that we understand why arts and culture and sustainability are so important to introduce to future generations at an early age, we need to address the ways we can successfully expose young people to these concepts in schools.  One problem is getting school boards that make most curriculum-content revisions happen to make necessary changes and inclusions. When I personally spoke to a key member of the Cleveland Public Schools school board, I was reminded  how precious our young people are and that risky or unproven changes can't be taken that compromise student learning.  Quite an interesting paradox : changes that are likely going to lead great outcomes are being resisted due to their unproven status - yet no one wants to be first mover and start the charter programs that prove that this does work.  Clearly we need such pioneering programs to prove curriculum changes work - another unfortunate circumstance is that the change will take some time to show marked benefit in the form of performance metrics like increased ticket sales to arts events and increased eco-friendly behaviors.

Any thoughts?  One I have is to point to winning outcomes created by nonprofits that supplement schools.  Another would be to start a charter school from scratch and prove the naysayers wrong - the Intergenerational School and the Entrepreneurship Academy are two such programs.  A final thought would be to point to more progressive school systems outside of the region (if none exist within) and successes their curriculum changes along lines of arts, entrepreneurship, ethics, or sustainability have had.  Such benchmarking might help provide the quantitative proof school boards need but might be challenged due to the fact that they were successful elsewhere and not regionally. 

pass the baton already

Why is it we have 60 year old rockers and we like to re-live the good old days. If doing things the old ways is not producing results, it's time to move on. The zeal that produced the computer is gone now that the computer is in normal use. Preparing kids for whats next is vital. What, we don't know what's next. It's not for us to decide anyway, so the best we can do is give kids the tools and values as a base for them to be able to make the future when they get there. Then by the time they are through living with us, they know.

Use more technology, put crucial lessons in video format on CDs. Think about the one laptop per child angle. If you put class material in a pdf file on a CD, that's less paper books. Make kids create, put stuff in their hands. They will get it.

Excellent write up,

Excellent write up.
I really appreaciate the views and information.