Educators today seem to be faced with a choice: Keep teaching centuries-old ways of organizing the world through traditional disciplines such as math, science and music or throw it all out in favor of innovation, creativity and problem-solving skills.




It is a false choice. Maybe it’s even paralyzing us and therefore not allowing change.

Here’s the thing: Innovation requires the creative use of the fundamental and powerful concepts of the traditional disciplines. We should put real world challenges in front of students that require them to riff on what humanity has already discovered. Visit our vision page for examples.

Our framework is designed to move through increasingly more profound change. Each stage is just as important as the next. Trust us, we’ve tried jumping over certain elements and it didn’t work.

A review:

Stage 1 = Adult learning and Leadership (the foundation for a school culture to get ready to transform)

Stage 2 = Joyful, Efficient Classrooms and Active Processing (immediate steps to improve classroom instruction)

five stage

Stage 3 moves us into new territory: Curriculum. Concept-Based Curriculum just makes sense. It’s also supported by pretty amazing research.

 The National Research Council: “To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework.”

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing (aka the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy) asks, “Is mathematics, for example, a discrete body of knowledge to be memorized or an organized, coherent, conceptual system to be understood?”

Factual Knowledge Conceptual Knowledge
Discrete, isolated content elements Larger, more organized bodies of knowledge
Social Studies: dates, names, events power, leadership, freedom

Dr. H. Lynn Erickson, the godmother of Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction will be guest blogging tomorrow on the power of approaching a unit through a conceptual lens.

Once we organize our curriculum through fundamental and powerful concepts our students will be able to transfer their understanding to new situations and apply it in unique ways that will hopefully save our planet.

So let’s invite Einstein, Mandela and Jobs to our schools and help our students aspire to be like all three of them!


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