Wednesday, August 4, 2010

21st Century Curriculum

Heidi Hayes Jacobs coined a phrase that resonated with me. In Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World she used the phrase "remodeling units". In countless conversations with our most qualified and effective teachers the idea of abandoning current practice for one that matches the 21st Century seems like such a daunting task. Jacobs proposes teachers approach it like remodeling a house. You typically don't gut the entire house but you move one room to another because you still need to live in the house.

In this beach read, Jacobs proposes remodeling the content, skills and assessment of school. She suggests curriculum teams need to review curriculum from seven tenets:
1. Global perspective
2. Local perspective
3. Whole child
4. Future career and work options
5. Real world practice
6. Use of technology and media
7. Developmental appropriateness

This can be done by asking guiding questions including:
1. Within the discipline being reviewed, what content choices are dated and non-essential?
2. What choices for topics, issues, themes, problems, and case studies are timely and necessary for our learners within disciplines?
Are the interdisciplinary content choices rich, natural and rigorous?

The book's conclusions include how schools need to understand that this is a time of great change. A number of disruptors including technology, global flatness and accessible information are influencing this time of change. Presently schools look more like museums and it is our responsibility as the curators to change that. The students entering our schools a very different than earlier generations but remodeling one unit at a time will make the change easier on all.

How we work with our good teachers on changing this framework will be critical to the success of this change. Help ing them understand the simpliciy and complexity of the change will only help on this journey. How are schools successfully introducing this message? Feel free to share the stories!

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