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Citizens of the World

As our boys become men, they will do so at a time when actions and events in one part of the globe are instantaneously felt everywhere. Like our parents and grandparents, our sons will be citizens of their native lands but, unlike them, they will also be citizens of the world. In order to thrive, they will need a sound foundation in their own history, culture, values, and beliefs, and will need to possess qualities of mind that enable them to embrace, understand, and appreciate difference in all of its manifestations. Our sons will compete on the global stage across all professions and fields of study. No matter their chosen career, they will communicate, travel, interact, and work with people from "worlds" that differ greatly from theirs. The “new essentials” of the future will require the ability to access, organize, synthesize, and legitimize information efficiently and effectively. Our boys will have to think creatively, present coherently in both verbal and graphic forms, to embrace and adapt to changes, especially of a technological nature. They will be called upon to demonstrate cognitive flexibility, to possess facility with language, and to think and make decisions from a global perspective. Combined with a strong sense of the moral and ethical, these new essentials don’t necessarily replace the old ones; they simply require a new paradigm.

This summer, on a visit to Davidson College in North Carolina, I learned about the emerging field of synthetic biology. What undergraduates are engaged in at the college level would send shivers down a Luddite’s spine! If physics was the principal science of the twentieth century, it seems obvious to me that it will be biology for the twenty-first. Research into the manipulation of living cells to "calculate" and "compute" -- living computers -- is well underway. Teams from universities and colleges across the globe are now competing and working together to advance the field—and this is just one emerging field that has the potential to radically change the “world as we know it.” Novel problem solving, interdisciplinary collaboration, non-linear thinking are the skills in demand—a far cry even from my tertiary experience, let alone my parents’. At the dawn of "DNA," biology has the potential to change our understanding of how knowledge itself is created. Implications are profound, complex and inherently exciting, with important significance for elementary education.

Many of these new essentials are being applied at Saint David's now, the beginnings of a new paradigm are taking shape. However, even though we have just completed the fifth year of the Curriculum Initiative, we have really only just begun. We want to communicate clearly that which remains consistent and unchanged: our commitment to the classical tradition and our enduring mission. What you will see changing and evolving however, is the way we go about implementing it.  The faculty has been sitting to its tasks throughout the Initiative, reworking curriculum to meet the challenges of a new “framework.”

Based on the work of Harvard University's Project Zero, and with the guidance of one of their key professors, Saint David's teachers have developed several innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative, rigorous, thought-provoking units of study that specifically focus on "teaching for understanding." This past year, working in cross- grade, -division, and -disciplinary teams, the faculty completed seventeen such units. This coming year, we will work on developing twice this number. Within the next few years, we will have touched all areas of the curriculum.

For more on this, please see the latest edition of Saint David's Magazine.  It's worth the read!


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