As we saw in chapter three of A Year At Mission Hill, knowledge and skills are taught – in part – through school wide themes, which involve the community. At the beginning of the school year, the students at Mission Hill learned all about honeybees. In chapter 5, ancient China is the focus of the school’s Long Ago and Far Away theme. Mission Hill is a K-8 public school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA (note: since filming, the school has relocated to Jamaica Plain).
Creative thinking is a cornerstone of Mission Hill’s teaching philosophy. You will see children painting masks, writing Chinese characters, dancing to live Chinese music and making dumplings. You will hear a teacher discuss with colleagues her students’ difficulty in interpreting proverbs. Another teacher, fielding questions from a small group of students, instructs a boy to find evidence to support his claim that tents existed in ancient China. Depth of knowledge, as opposed to breadth, guides instruction. A teacher acknowledges that her students won’t learn everything there is to know about ancient China; instead they will become experts on a particular aspect, which they will then teach to the class.
Bill Gates – your corporate education reform policies, which narrow curriculum by placing the focus on high-stakes, Common Core-aligned testing, are threatening arts instruction in our schools.
Readers – to what extent has the implementation of the Common Core (testing and curriculum) impacted creative thinking at your school?
Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates