This is an extremely thought-provoking blog entry from Grant Wiggins (one of the authors of Understanding By Design) that questions much of the conventional wisdom underlying curriculum design in schools. I particularly appreciated the following questions:
- If curriculum is a tour through what is known, how is knowledge ever advanced?
- If learning requires a didactic march through content, why are movies and stories so memorable – often, more memorable than classes we once took?
- If a primary goal of education is high-level performance in the world going forward, how can marching through old knowledge out of context optimally prepare us to perform?
- If education is about having core knowledge, and we are more and more teaching and testing all this knowledge, why are results on tests like NAEP so universally poor, showing that over decades American students have not progressed much beyond basic “plug and chug”?
Building off of Plato, Kant, Piaget, and Dewey, as well as the 8-year study, Wiggins makes a strong case for problem-based learning:
“…suppose today’s content knowledge is an offshoot of successful ongoing learning in a changing world – in which ‘learning’ means ‘learning to perform in the world.‘”
by Grant Wiggins