Weekly Newsletter - September 17, 2021

Doing the “Modern Curriculum”

Last week, prolific writer and entrepreneur Seth Godin published a blog post called “The Modern Curriculum” which can be found here. Reading it, I couldn’t help but observe that he doesn’t need to despair that this is a “significant shift [that] is overdue.” It’s not as overdue as you think, Seth! We’re doing it right now at Qualia: The School for Deeper Learning.

He notes that “The basic foundation is student-centered, self-directed projects.” In other words, just to take one example of what we do at Qualia, Symposium. Our students, from the moment they enter our learning community, are given the expectation that they can ask meaningful, worthy, richly nuanced questions, study them and develop unique ideas stemming from their work. To develop this point further, just have a look at four notions Godin argues should be in the modern curriculum: Games, Communication, Scientific Method and Meta-cognition.

We use games and gamified methods regularly in our instructional model. Moreover, we encourage students to participate in eSports and to actively engage in tabletop gameplay. Just last week, we ad the entire community participate in a game called “Two Rooms and a Boom,” a game which privileges active communication as its main game mechanic. Our students who play tabletop roleplaying games spend their time developing collaborative stories told over hours of game play.

Our science classes are predicated on a continued exploration of and sophisticated understanding of the scientific method. Our philosophy classes are fundamentally about meta-cognition.

We know that the model for education developed in the late 1800s is no longer an ideal strategy to prepare young people for the complexities of the 21st century…and we’re doing something about it everyday. Let’s invite Seth Godin to visit us and see his proposed modern curriculum in action!

— Jon Cassie

This week students worked together to discuss symposium topics for the current quarter. The main topic that they settled on is “monsters”. Their brainstorming session resulted in some interesting ideas branching from the core topic.