A promising ‘curriculum night’

Each week, Symposium provides a blogging forum for the week’s featured article. This week’s author is Prof. Linda Essig. You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter @LindaInPhoenix.After writing Tuesday’s post about the potential effects of No Child Left Behind on this year’s college freshman class, I attended “curriculum night” at the local high school (like many of my colleagues, I am both a professor and a parent). The experience was heartening as I heard teacher after teacher talk about the changes being made to the curriculum as a result of adopting the Common Core Parcc assessment and changes being made to AP exams by the College Board.

“We no longer emphasize rote memorization,” “in this calculus class we emphasize real world applications,” and “we really want your students to learn to develop arguments and appreciate that sometimes there is more than one right answer,” were just three examples from an evening that left me hopeful for the future of both secondary and higher education.

The last, in particular, was music to my ears. It echoes and supports the point I made in my article in this issue: to be successful outside of the school environment, young people need to maximize their cognitive abilities to respond to questions that seek answers from a fixed base of knowledge and synthesize networks of knowledge to answer open-ended questions creatively.

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