How Learning Happens: A New Design for Schools
Wildflower School defines curriculum in a very specific way in order to ensure that our practices align with our values. We define curriculum as the intentional design for learning negotiated by students and educators in the context of student interests, educator provocations, school environment and community connections, the goal of which is to support and provoke learner intelligence (fluid and crystallized) and competency.
Because the term “learning standards” generally refers to the knowledge adults expect students to gain within a certain time period and at a specific stage of their education, Wildflower does not use this term in describing its curriculum. Furthermore, because “learning objectives” are incremental objectives aimed at supporting a student’s mastery of “learning standards”, we do not use this term either.
We intentionally use the term goal in designing our curriculum. We define goal as a broad, top priority end result. For example, regarding a literacy curriculum, a learning standard might be to “understand and use question words” (Common Core). A literacy goal at the Wildflower school might be to “develop and employ an inquiry approach throughout play and exploration.” As you can see, we are not simply playing with semantics here. We are clarifying our intention so that as we co-learn with children, we maintain a clear vision of what we believe about how children learn and what children’s rights are. Children have a right to question (not just use question words) and adults are accountable for enabling, encouraging and listening to their questions. Adults are also accountable for providing guidance and materials that supports children as they seek answers to their questions.
Our curriculum goals reflect the competencies our school values: noticing, engaging, expressing and collaborating. Using the tools of play, inquiry and reflection, students and educators construct their days by interacting with our school environment and each other. Learning is child-led with adults providing a safe learning experience as well as investigative provocations for students. Delineated above are more specific goals associated with each competency. This curriculum as a whole serves as the educators’ guiding star as the children construct their days and engage with literature, math, science, the arts and the environment.