K-5 curriculum for the post-carbon era

Echoing the influential American educator John Dewey, contemporary educational scholar Nel Noddings argues convincingly that all citizens should be able to surmount the minor obstacles imposed by failures in carpentry and plumbing by the time they graduate from secondary school. Better yet, she argues, we should encourage and facilitate the interests and talents of every student at every level of education, even if they do not fit the two-dimensional liberal-arts model. Yet for me, twenty years were needed before I could overcome the biases and prejudices built into our narrowly focused educational system.”


The quote is from one of my recent books, and I use it here to introduce a K-5 curriculum for the post-carbon era (warning: this is a large pdf file; html version is available here, courtesy of countercurrents.org, and it’s been posted by the folks at Energy Bulletin in condensed form here). This report is based on a semester’s worth of thinking and writing by two undergraduate students. I advised these two superb students on this independent-study project, which they sandwiched between full academic schedules and full lives.
I would love your critical review of this document. I suspect they would, too.

Comments 13

  • This notice is a bit off-topic, but may be of interest to biologists and ecologists in the realm of this listserver. I am on the advisory board of the environmental group Western Watersheds Project (http://www.westernwatersheds.org). We have established an office with a director in Arizona and are becoming increasingly active in fighting (and it is a literal, legal fight in many cases) to protect imperiled wildlife and their habitats in Arizona, particularly in Federal jurisdictions such as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Here is a link to a notice of intent by WWP to sue for enforcement of the Federal Endangered Species Act in the Gila River area:
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    If any Arizona-based ecologists would like to support such efforts, I would be happy to facilitate your support by putting you in touch with our people…
    Stan Moore

  • Hi, long time reader never posted. Great to hear from you about your life. Mine has taken a different route in education. Agreeing with you on most of your rants we {wify and myself]} have gone back to school to get a MS in nursing with an RN cert [graduate in 2 years] as a way to navigate the rocky future. I should add that I register 3 score and one years old buy have been unretired courtesy of our beloved politicians and financial industry that so needed my money more than I did. This should in Australia provide us with jobs that will hold longer than most at least that is the way we are seeing it. Living in the out back in Australia is not possible as it is in the US, the bush is far to harsh. At least in Perth we are isolated from the rest of the world as much as is possible which has its ups and downs depending on the issue. Namaste

  • The post-carbon curriculum is a wealth of information (I just skimmed it so far). Please let your students know they did a great job and a great service.
    Thanks,
    — Chad

  • Thanks for posting this. It is definitely good food for thought. I’m looking forward to a deeper reading of the material.
    Of course, it stands to reason that education, and the process of educating the young, should be aimed at developing thinking skills. Not necessarily the accumulation of facts and factoids, but the ability to think even when all the other things are forgotten.
    That’s why I hate the current teach-to-the-test practices encouraged by the AIMS and its ilk.
    The world is not a multiple choice answer sheet where we fill in bubbles neatly. It’s more of a blank sheet that serves as space for answering an essay question. The sort of essay question your life is depending on–not the kind you can fluff off with some legitimate-sounding BS.
    I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know what the future looks like, but I can say the biggest part of my own education (and what I’m passing on) is living a life of service. I should get a call any day now to finish training and go on call as part of a Red Cross disaster response team.

  • True ‘dat, Charlene. A life of service is the best any of us could hope for. Unfortunately, such a life is seriously discouraged by the current system of public education. Thanks for the comment, and thanks, too, to the first-time comment from burt and the occasional comment from Chad.

  • I skimmed quickly through the entire curriculum and I have one question – is there any reason why this curriculum has to wait til the post-carbon era to be implemented? Seems to me it has been/would be/is practical, foundational knowledge in any era. As Charlene pointed out, the current educational system has lost its way in the mire of facts and figures, and has forgotten to teach children HOW to think.
    This curriculum reflects a lot of what I taught my children as I homeschooled them. They learned how to find information and how to synthesize it, as well as how to observe and reason for themselves. A socially aware mindset – cooperating, empathy, and volunteering (i.e. helping others without expecting something in return) was also a major part of their training.
    I found it interesting that letter writing (business and personal) was included in this K-5 curriculum. That indicates a hope that there will be communication between various communities and a way to get letters from one place to another. Pony express, perhaps? 🙂

  • I read through the curriculum sample and would agree that it would be an excellent curriculum for younger children in any area. Many educators (and homeschooling parents) have observed that an excessive focus on the traditional academic subjects before the age of ten can be counterproductive, as children’s readiness for formal math, reading and writing is so tied to developmental stage, which doesn’t start to even out until late grade school. Labeled too soon, the expectation of failure becomes a self fulfilling prophecy so that a major predictor of academic success is the child’s birthday.
    I would mention that many of Charlotte Mason’s educational ideas dovetail well into this curriculum, and would note that early emphasis on reading to children aloud and having them orally narrate what they have just heard would be an excellent adaptation to schooling if books become too dear to place in the hands of young children.
    Tamara

  • read through the curriculum sample and would agree that it would be an excellent curriculum for younger children in any area. Many educators (and homeschooling parents) have observed that an excessive focus on the traditional academic subjects before the age of ten can be counterproductive, as children’s readiness for formal math, reading and writing is so tied to developmental stage, which doesn’t start to even out until late grade school. Labeled too soon, the expectation of failure becomes a self fulfilling prophecy so that a major predictor of academic success is the child’s birthday.

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  • I agree with the base idea that interest and talent should be nurtured at every age level. It is more important for older people to nurture their interest and talent in order for their mind to stay active, so they could maintain their general well being. Old timer who has no interest would become dull and weak..

  • Its a good information anyways thanks.

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