Thursday, December 14, 2006

The “Narrowing” K-12 Curriculum
Is there room in education for a traditional liberal education? For History, Literature, the Arts?

The answer (and, yes, we've had enough driving to D.C. this fall), was a resounding "YES!" from the hundred or so wonks, teachers, administrators, and entrepreneurs gathered in the Hotel Washington Tuesday. Is squeezing it in a challenge? Sure. It can be done, and perhaps not with additional hours to the schoolday. The key (all knew this 50-60 years ago) is to integrate history, arts and literature into the rest of the curriculum.

Among those already doing this are any schools associated with the Core Knowledge Foundation. They take advantage of the substantial "reading" periods from Kindergarden up to spiral in good knowledge. The teachers, by the way, love it.

Similarly, the folk at K-12 are fighting the good fight to get quality material into schools and kids wherever.

Of course, we here at the Open History Project have known this truth for a little while now, and you can find the idea subtly integrated throughout the site. Too bad Speaker Pelosi summoned away the new Chair of the House Education and Workforce committee - or he would have heard it loud and clear too.

I would be remiss if I didn't commend in particular the remarks of Dana Gioia, who led by example with a speech laden with Shakespeare and Byron. He spoke of childhood in the labor town Hawthorne, CA; of how his family of no formal education still gave him poetry and music; and of example low performing students then and since affected deeply by literature, music, and drama.
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
All this seemed to have worked out OK for Gioia, author, successful executive, and now chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Find the papers and presentations here and the full video (indexed) here.

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