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Mantle of Curricular Authority  
11:55pm 15/10/2007
The divide between childhood and adulthood is the acquisition of [a degree of] autonomy. The goal then of parenting and education is to ultimately empower children with the autonomy that they will need as an adult. Many parents in our modern culture though try so hard to keep their children from growing up ["too soon"]. In such homes these progeny are treated as mere children right up until the day that they move out of their parents' home, at which point they are suddenly thrust into an adult world in which they are somehow expected to instantly function as adults, despite inadequate encouragement and training in their parents' home. A healthier approach to creating adults would be to actually encourage the child to become an adult, and to gradually grant the child rights commeasurate with responsibilities until the child has all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. In older cultures they concretely symbolized this transformation with rite-of-passage ceremonies to emphatically acknowledge a child's transition into adulthood, but our modern culture lacks adequate rites-of-passage. (Did you feel like a fully empowered adult at your high school graduation?) When imagining how a teacher could provide a meaningful rite-of-passage to a student (though not the final rite), I came up with the following document...

Mantle of Curricular Authority

By completion of this Mantle, _______________________________ is hereby imbued with both the right and the responsibility for authoring his/her own independent curriculum at the Academy. The educators of the Academy hereby pledge to support to the best of their ability and available resources the independent curriculum authored by the Recipient. With his/her self-governed Curricular Authority, the Recipient has the right to re-author his/her curriculum at will. However, should the educators of the Academy deem that monetary resources previously committed to the Recipient's prior self-authored curriculum have not been properly utilized by the Recipient, the educators hold the prerogative to withhold further monetary resources until they deem that the Recipient has properly utilized those previously committed resources. This Mantle further grants the Recipient the rank of Senior Scholar at the Academy.

Granting of Curricular Authority:
We, the educators at the Academy, believe that empowering our students is a crucial goal of education. We deem that the Recipient has demonstrated the traits which would make one worthy of the above mentioned Curricular Authority, and we pledge to support to the best of our ability and available resources the self-authored curriculum of the Recipient.

Granting Educator: _______________________________

Signature of Granting Educator

Acceptance of Curricular Authority:
I, _______________________________, declare that I have read this Mantle and I understand and agree to the right and the responsibility that it imbues upon me.

Signature of Recipient

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(no subject)
12:16am 19/10/2007 (UTC)
It is not that there was no way to test that her cousin's English writing skills were inadequately developed; her so-called "educators" simply chose to give her a diploma without testing her, because they run their so-called school with the priority of not pissing off the parents so that they keep their children enrolled there. There are many tests that could have been given to her to test her competency.

Determining when a child is ready to be granted Curricular Authority is a very crucial question, and one that the child's teachers and parents should be involved in answering, as they are the ones who interact with the child on a daily basis. I can only suggest guidelines, such as the general guideline that a child not even be considered eligible for possible Curricular Authority prior to his/her seventeenth birthday, unless the child shows truly exceptional development.

Hell, Curricular Authority could conceivably be divided by subject, so a math genius could be granted Curricular Authority in mathematics, yet still have to follow the curriculum set by the teachers for other subjects.
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(no subject)
12:50am 19/10/2007 (UTC)
I gained Curricular Authority when I was seventeen in the form of getting a highschool diploma =)

For the public school the school and it's teachers are measured by the performance of the students, so like Lacie's cousin's school there will always be pressure for results rather than substance. This is a problem we're running in to with schools that have students specifically cram for certain standardized tests such as the MEAP, CAT, PSAT, etc. We've yet to find a way out of this catch-22 in which we measure success of the educators by the success of the students, which tends to create flawed educators.

Fast-track programs like you mention have sprung up in a number of places. Essentially all students must meet a basic level in the normal subjects, but there are slower and faster paced versions of classes which kids are tested into so that they can learn at their level. It's something that has not taken off at all in general as it's very complicated and difficult to measure the results of. What I wouldn't have given for something like that though back in Highschool and earlier...I took the very bare minimum of Math in highschool despite it being a very strong subject of mine due to the mind-numbing glacial pace at which it was taught.
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(no subject)
10:37pm 24/10/2007 (UTC)
My idea with the Mantle was to provide a stepping stone into adulthood prior to graduation, rather than having students thrust from childhood to full adulthood without any adequate transitioning.

As the education of less motivated students would be harmed by granting them Curricular Authority too soon, the education of gifted students can also be harmed by not granting them Curricular Authority soon enough (at least in the subjects in which they are gifted). Our culture does not nurture the empowerment of the individual, so it is no surprise that a school within our culture fails to support the empowerment of its students.
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