Curriculum is a 4 letter word at Acton, but that doesn't mean we aren't intentional about learning design
I've already spoken at length about how the word Curriculum is a 4 letter word at Acton. And though it may seem trivial, I would argue the difference between Curriculum & Learning Design is just as vast as the difference between Academics & Education.
"Curriculum" stirs up feelings of administration staff, who have never worked a day in a classroom, selecting textbooks from a list of suitors all trying to sell their version of "what children need to know" in this specific subject at this specific age.
For me, it implies something that's being chosen for you and done to you and is in no way learner-driven.
"Learning Design" on the other hand is simply a series of invitations, challenges, and questions designed to peak your curiosity and actively engage you in the learning process.
I also tell every family that tours Acton - "We are NOT an Academically driven school, rather we are a Learner-Driven Community that emphasizes character development and leadership (Learning to Be)."
But just because we don't emphasize Academics doesn't mean we don't see Math, Reading and Writing as foundational skills needed to lead a successful life. We still believe in Learning to Do & Learning to Learn (Education).
That said, we also believe we don't need to artificially push a child along, label them as ahead or behind, or add pressure to learn a specific skill by a specific age.
We believe every child who enters our doors possesses the ability to learn these skills on their own and at their own pace. We desire to see learners establishing a true LOVE of learning, then continuing to take on more and more challenging work overtime.
The idea of focusing on MORE than simply academics can most easily be summarized in three words: Whole Child Development. Yes, Math and English are important pieces of the learning design, but they certainly are NOT our only focus:
Shifting gears slightly, here are some very brief thoughts on the more academically driven pieces of our Learning Design:
My hope is this blog post gives you a glimpse behind the curtain of our learning design. (Even my wife, Heidi, said she learned something new in proofing this blog!). We are always assessing and adjusting as we continue to learn more from everyone in the network.
This constant state of assessing and learning is also why we changed math software this year. Dreambox wasn't as fun & engaging, nor did it provide the immediate feedback loops for self-correction like Beast Academy. Plus Beast is actually far more comprehensive in nature too with built in instructional videos for when learners get stuck. Beyond that, we are able to lean on the Acton network here too, Beast came highly recommended from the network/ learners at other Actons which made the decision easier for us.
We didn't even have the space to touch on things like independent reading, handwriting, typing, foreign language, PE, Servant leadership badges, our outdoor program, or really any of the Learning to Be & Learning to Learn concepts in the "Whole Child Development" graphic above.
All of which play a VITAL role in the overall learning design and badge plans of each of our learners.
My questions for you are,
My challenge for you, should you desire to dig deeper on our Learner-Driven Learning Design is to complete one or more of the Learning Design Family Badges. There are badges for parents to learn more about: Writing at Acton, Quests, Excellence, Mastery, and more!