How might school leaders use this framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their theories of change? How might teachers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their curricular units and lessons? How might writers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of the pieces they are composing? How might makers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of the things they are creating?
Over the next few weeks, I plan to make my work with emergent curriculum design a bit more transparent in this space. My intention isn’t to suggest that I know how to do it and that everyone should just follow along. I have no desire to pitch you, friends. I’m eager to share my successes and more importantly, my struggles, because I truly believe that this shift is a game changer for all students and educators, and I know few others who are heading in this direction when I think about my work on the ground. I want to share what I’ve been up to in order to get a bit of validation for what seems right and some redirection where I may be heading off-course.
I’ll be honest, though: I really think I’m on to something, and it’s bigger than curriculum design. It’s cutting out all of the noise we’ve generated by making the wrong things far more complex than they needed to be. This is creating the head space, physical space, and time we need to do deeper and far more meaningful work around what matters most.
Think of all of the frameworks we employ in our efforts to:
- Design curriculum units
- Align curriculum units
- Design lesson plans
- Create mini-lessons
- Improve instructional practices
- Use data well
- Teach the writing process
- Strategically plan
- Engage in action research
- Document learning
I could go on. I’m sure you could, too. And you know where I’m going with this, anyway.
There are too many frameworks.
There are too many, and they rarely play nice with one another. What’s worse is that each framework requires us to learn a new and very complex language and then, ensure that we’re all speaking that language fluently each time we sit down to use it.
How much time and cognitive energy are we putting into understanding frameworks and the relationships between frameworks? How much time are we spending resolving the tensions between different people who use different frameworks in different ways inside of our systems?
What if one framework could be used for diverse purposes with diverse groups in diverse contexts and systems?
That’s where my work began. With that great big what if?
And this is important, because if I hadn’t considered that question, I would have dismissed emergent curriculum design entirely. It seems ethereal, when I need practical. It seems chaotic, when I need coherence. It seems experimental, when I need to control for quality.
It seems this way, but it isn’t.
The framework matters. This one is driven by design.
I’ll start unpacking it one bit at a time beginning next week, as I try to make my work with emergent curriculum clearer. I’m sure there will be opportunities to share how design and this translation of it in particular has influenced my other work in schools over the last few years.
In the mean time, think about how teachers and writers might use this same framework inside of a writing workshop or studio or makerspace in order learn and grow and produce complex and compelling work.
Think about how it’s different from the other frameworks we’ve been accumulating.