This weekend I was reading an excerpt by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner that really got me thinking about our curriculum, instruction, and assessments. I'd like to share a few ideas from their passage:
"Suppose all of the syllabi and curricula and textbooks in the schools disappeared. Suppose all of the standardized tests--city-wide, state-wide, and national--were lost. In other words, suppose that the most common material impeding innovation in the schools imply did not exist. Then suppose that you decided to turn this "catastrophe" into an opportunity to increase the relevance of the schools. What would you do?"
Then, they go on to describe how they have pondered the question of "What's worth knowing?" followed by a list of potential questions. Here are a few questions they thought worth answering:
--What is "change"?
--What are the relationships between new ideas and change?
--Where do new ideas come from? How come?
--Of the important changes going on in our society, which should be encouraged and which resisted? Why? How?
--What are the conditions necessary for life to survive?
--What are the greatest threats to all forms of life?
Their list was extensive, but what it reminded me of was that we have developed over the past five years, which are some excellent essential questions that in many ways reflect the types of questions they proposed.
When you are framing your curriculum units, take a moment to review your essential questions and enduring questions and ask yourself if they hit the mark in "What's worth knowing?"....and if they don't, revise them, and then review your learning activities and ask yourself "Is this worth doing? Is this worth learning?" If not....then make a change.