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Jonathan Sieg

Boy Scouts Eagle Scout

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A curriculum based around projects and collaborative efforts while deemphasizing standardized testing and homework

A curriculum based around group projects designed to challenge students, build confidence and creativity, and allow them practical hands-on learning should be implemented. The education would start at an early age, and emphasize creative learning and intellectual curiosity while still addressing fundamental reading, writing, and math. Essentially, the most important aspect of early education is stimulating a curiosity about the world to prepare students to be life-long, excited learners. Furthermore, socializing should be strongly encouraged, along with interesting group problem solving to inspire confidence and facilitate strong communication skills.
Analysis of student ability will be conducted by school counselors who work closely with students. The counselors serve mainly two purposes: ensure the emotional well-being of students is secure not only in the school environment but also at home and serve to develop new projects and group students for those projects together in the most effective way.
As students reach a point of maturity and ability to handle a more self-directed project based curriculum, counselors will essentially then take the place of teachers. Hopefully by the time students reach teenage years, they will become generally self-directed in learning. Counselors will then assess students through individual relationships and past projects to group students to create the most effective learning environment possible. The counselors will also decide on projects and challenges to assign the group. Ideally, these projects will encompass a wide variety of disciplines and be a goal that is plausible for the group, but still provides an interesting, relevant challenge. Students may have as few or as many projects as they can handle and which will provide the most profitable experience for learning.
When these students are assigned projects, the school will make many resources available for them. Counselors will then hold students accountable and focused.

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    Jan 4 2014: This is a great idea and a conversation I have tried to start myself with other education majors. What is interesting about this system is that many arts teachers already do this! Band has a concert 7 weeks away and we teach music through our development of this "project". There is also art projects that do the same thing. I note that this scale of project is not what you're looking for, but I believe it is notable.

    I wonder if there could be a way to create space for major long-term cross curricular projects within the school day. The issue I am seeing in my head right now is just the lack of time and all that needs to be learned in this time. To hit every subject to the breadth and depth that is required while allowing for this space would mean some things cut out of the day: band, art, home ec.

    How do you envision the "wants" and "needs" being balanced? It seems that I like your concept (allowing kids real, creative, open ended, and diverse projects to propel a love of learning), but I am drawn short on how this will meet measures of success each year in each field of study.

    Thoughts?
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      Jan 5 2014: Hey Nicholas, thanks for the comment,

      One of the core features of the projects is a cross-curriculum focus. Ideally, every project will incorporate past concepts from multiple subjects while introducing new concepts from multiple subjects in an interesting and challenging way.

      As far as evaluating knowledge and ability goes, much of that is left up to the panel of counselors who critique the projects.Since every project builds on the last, then a student must be considered proficient in his abilities (as evaluated by the panel) before he will be assigned more difficult, in-depth projects.

      As far as the time constraints are concerned, since students will learn to be self-directed, they can set their own schedules and have longer or shorter days depending on the need for the project (probably only applicable to older, mature students). This flexibility of scheduling will also allow students to work at times that are conducive to band rehearsals. Ideally art would be incorporated into the projects. Also, homework, in the traditional sense, won't be a part of a student's life, so much time is opened up from that.

      As far as the "wants" and "needs" goes, ideally both will be covered at the same time. By teaching students that learning is fun, exciting, and challenging, and by assigning projects that are relevant and interesting to the students, students will want to learn the necessary subjects to complete the projects because they will want to complete the subjects.

      In my opinion, I believe everybody wants to learn, but usually material in school is presented in such a boring, dull way that there is little motivation to learn. Most students only do enough to get a grade. I envision a system where students go above and beyond not to get an A, but to because what they are doing is unique, interesting, and something they can be proud of.

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