Blame it on the two feet of snow on the ground and the fact that it is May the 5th, but I have gardening on my brain. Seeds are strewn across my table, potting soil is piling up in my garage, and my hands itch to dig in the dirt. I want to get messy, scatter seeds, and watch, impatiently waiting for something new to grow. I really want to tend my garden. Sometimes people ask, why would I bother with a garden? My backyard is the size of a postage stamp and there is barely enough space to kick a soccer ball around, let alone grow potatoes. Gardening takes time, and hard work, and aren’t we busy enough? Do we actually grow enough food to make it worth our efforts? Those of us who garden know the answer is more than yes. The work is challenging and the results are often unpredictable. As we plant our seeds it is hard to determine if this variety and that soil will yield the best crop. We read up to date science and apply our current best practice of gardening. We bring this combination of knowledge and skill to our garden and hope and pray for the best. When things fail, we adjust and redo. When they thrive we record the winning combination to use again on future gardens. It is more than worth the effort, as through the process we learn and grow ourselves. Gardening is not defined by the sum of it’s parts, it is defined by the iterate process. It is through this process that we the gardener grow…not just our seeds.
This is the same hope and aspiration we have for our curriculum development prototyping work. We are often asked questions like: Why bother to contribute to this process? What if anything in schools will really change? Will the effort you put in produce? When asked over and over why we would take up such challenging, unpredictable work the answer is because we grow through the work. That is the intention. It is the same hope we have our students in our schools. We develop curriculum prototypes just as we would garden. Through an iterate process that is as important if not more than the finished product. We plant seeds of thought, seeds of hope, seeds of inspiration and pray that our future students will reap the rewards. When we notice students are no longer thriving, we will analyze, evaluate and once again begin the iterate planning process with an essential question:
Jim Parsons and Larry Beauchamp envisioned for Alberta Education a Curriculum Development Process that would allow for iteration to be applied to curriculum that is flexible, responsive, relevant, inclusive and engaging for all students. It is a process that at its heart is about learning and growing. Not just for students but for all of us in our community (garden) of learners (growers).
When envision what a curriculum prototype could look like, my colleague Alison Van Rosendaal posed the question, “If the metaphor for our old curriculum was the industrial model or more specifically the conveyor belt, what is our new metaphor for curriculum?” In our conversation, she shared the following video. We found this to hold a lot of potential for creating a new metaphor.
Keep planting, keep sowing and never ever stop growing.
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.