Teaching for a Better World: The Why and How of Student-initiated Curricula
It is said that travel broadens the mind. Features of one’s home environment hitherto taken for granted are challenged by what one sees elsewhere. One begins to think differently and, almost inevitably, to behave differently. But as far as expanding one’s view of education is concerned, travel – whether actual, by visiting education institutions abroad, or virtual, by studying first-hand accounts, film, etc. – is unlikely to provoke a re-evaluation of core assumptions about the responsibilities of the student in a formal educational setting. In education systems worldwide, students are expected to learn what other people have decided they should be taught. Students are sometimes given a menu of curriculum options from which to choose, but if they would prefer to learn something completely different this predilection will seldom be catered to or even acknowledged. Student-initiated curricula – that is, curricula conceived and formulated by the students themselves – are very rare within formal education. Fundamental decisions about the content of the formal curriculum are normally taken by teachers, the school board, the local education authority, or central government.
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