Taking the PYP Forward - What should students learn?

This was superb.  For the length of it, there were so many ideas in here.  I will say that I see curriculum a little bit differently in terms of its shape, but this chapter is so wonderfully articulated and presented in such an open manner that it allows the reader to go into so many different directions.

There is too much to teach (pg 43)

I am glad this was stated right up front.  It is so true, and it is one of those aspects of schooling that teachers seem to shrug their shoulders to and say, meh.  Curriculum is so loaded and heavy (or bloated and stuffed) with content that it is almost overwhelming   The standards and benchmarks often become the goal of school, and learning is forgotten or replaced with an assembly line mentality to cover everything and pass the test.  There are schools out there who have freed themselves from these chains (look at the Sudbury Schools), but for the most part, is it still a trap.

The more rebellious teachers out there (tricksters) will purposely leave out parts of the curriculum that think are unsightly or unnecessary and instead focus on the things that matter; learning to learn, self-reflection, all those good things that the Learner Profile suggest.  However, I have had this same conversation with a good friend of mine who has opened my eyes to another perspective.  He loves his students, and he wants them to succeed and achieve their dreams.  Part of that means they have to pass the test, to get into the program, to get the certification, to..... you get the idea.  By focusing on the content and helping them clear those hurdles that the system puts up, is he not aiding them in their quest?  I don't like this story, but it always makes me think.

there are key ways of thinking and ways of being that are culturally important (pg 45)

The learner profile and trans-disciplinary skills are great.  They are a wonderful goal and it would be great if we could set the conditions for kids to possess all these qualities.  The problem for me; I don't possess all these qualities, and I value some more than others.  Is that bad of me?  I don't know.  My classroom is certainly a place that over-extends on the Thinkers and Inquirers scale.  Creativity and imagination are so important to what I do.  Yet, another teacher may move in the direction of the Knowledgable, or the Caring, or the Principled.  The fine arts may be traded out for design and digital arts.  Communication may be done through drama, or it may also be done through non-fiction essay writing, or it may be done through fiction.  We each have our strengths that we bring to our life in the classroom.

That is not to say I don't do these other things, I certainly do, but for me as a person I have my own values that I bring as a person.  Should I not let these values shine?  Or should I try and be Balanced all the time?  The problem is, that is not me.  I am not balanced.  I believe in being genuine with my students, as true to who I am as I can.  Is that a bad thing?

Power Standards (pg 46)

I like Marzano's idea of taking the standards and weeding out the unimportant ones down to a list of important-important ones.  It is a useful goal, and would help teachers.  My question with standards is this, why set them at all?  Why do we need them?  What are they for?  What if we let the learner profile and trans-disciplinary skills BE the curriculum?  What do we need standards?  I have yet to hear a good answer to that question (or at least a personally satisfying one).

Throughlines (pg 46)

I like this sense of a line running through the spiral, but I think if we are going to apply shapes to curriculum, the metaphors and images from fractal geometry and networked systems are much more powerful.

The Null Curriculum (pg 47)

I love Elliot Eisner.  He is such a defender of the arts in school and his work on curriculum is inspiring.  The explicit curriculum is huge, volumes and volumes of it.  The implicit curriculum is more about being a good person and is more about skills (and in my opinion, should BE the explicit curriculum), and the null curriculum is the stuff that is left out.  This one is the most interesting.  Subjects are left out of the curriculum (what school covers nano-technology) for whatever reason.  Also, certain people are left out of curriculum.  There is a lot of great writing on Queer pedagogy and how our curriculum is very heterosexual.  Food for thought.

Year long throughline; How we Expres Ourselves (pg 49)

I love this idea!  I would love to have five units a year instead of six (well I would like four, but will settle for five!).  The idea of the How we Express Ourselves running through each unit is great, and I made a note about the same thing before I got to this part.  I think it would be problematic in some ways, and it may lead to a de-valuation of the arts.  Yet, if schools made a commitment to the arts and self expression as a central tenet to their existence  it would work wonderfully.

If all those damn standards don't get in the way.


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