Lately, I am thinking quite a lot about the questions of curricular scope, or content-driven curriculum. Why do so many educators feel such pressure to cover such an ambitious scope of material, say from “A to Z?” For the 21st Century, should we be looking for a different model of “coverage” that balances better deep learning with certain content knowledge acquisition? I think we should. Of course, a degree of content knowledge is arguably necessary. However, filling the head with knowledge, like filling a cup with water, is an outdated model for education. In 2009, I believe we know from the most recent brain research that our grey matter does NOT function like a vessel to be filled.
For the past two weeks, the Math-Science PLC (Professional Learning Community), of which I am a member, has been engaged in two modeling activities that involve exploring the phases of the moon and the illumination of the Earth. While the pace of learning has been slower than a delivery relying on “sage on the stage,” efficient lecture, the quality and authenticity of the learning have been rich and extraordinarily high level. By acting as a “guide on the side,” the PLC facilitator has provided a learning experience that will stick with me forever. Finally I genuinely understand the qualities of shadow and illumination for the Earth and the moon, finally I can understand the sinusoidal function that describes the data, finally I appreciate that exploration and discovery should be the driving, motivating forces in a classroom. Here’s to learning more by doing less.