Deeply Connected, Part Two: Preparing for the JourneySeptember 25, 2008 | Stephen Hurley
This is the second part of a two-part entry. Read part one.
The school year doesn't officially begin for another twelve hours, but already, a couple of things about our plan to introduce students to an interdisciplinary program have made themselves quite clear.
First, planning a program that attempts to make connections between traditional subject areas is a complex task. Discovering the connective tissue that is going to make this work has required me to dig deeper than had been necessary for me previously.
Second, the traditional resources I've used for planning -- textbooks, curriculum documents, and educational Web sites -- have given way to a new and exciting set of tools. I've turned to educational journals, magazines, and resource books used by practitioners in a variety of professions as well as a wide array of online videos, songs, and podcasts that cover topics as diverse as screenwriting, cellular biology, and political science.
I have found myself returning to several books time and time again as I've prepared to begin this year. These are books that, for me, support the need to think about our schools in a different way. I hope readers of this post will be able to understand why I find these books exciting foundational pieces even though they are not specifically about interdisciplinary approaches to school:
- A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel H. Pink, is a wonderful place to begin exploring new ways of thinking about many of our institutions and structures. I actually had a number of parents read this book along with me last year.
- Several chapters in Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond's The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools That Work have inspired some of our thinking around this project. In particular, the discussion about teaching and learning for understanding has been helpful.
- Educator Deborah Meier has documented her own journey toward building schools that are meaningful and relevant to students in The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem.
- In Kieran Egan's An Imaginative Approach to Teaching, the author, an education professor at Canada's Simon Fraser University, explores the power of engaging a child's imagination in our classrooms.
So, what have you been reading that has led you to think about your teaching practice in a different way? Do you have any plans to shift your approach to the way that you plan curriculum for the coming year? Please share your thoughts.