The Challenges of Writing a Curriculum Guide

“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

― Charlotte Mason, School Education: Developing A Curriculum

One of the drawbacks of a Curriculum Guide is that it, of necessity, produces division rather than integration. Classical education aims to show students the integration of all things in Christ, the One in Whom all things hold together. In some ways, the very structure of a Curriculum Guide is antithetical to this goal, for a Curriculum Guide—in order to categorize and communicate effectively—must divide and break down concepts into separate disciplines. The Curriculum Guide analyzes the animal of education in the same way that the scientist does—by cutting it apart, by tagging it, labeling it, defining it. It is the skilled teacher who can take these two-dimensional diagrams and parsed out pieces of pedagogy and pull them back together into a living, breathing animal that can run on all fours or take flight into the unknown.   

Another challenge for a Curriculum Guide is conveying that the non-academic aspects of education are the most important. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world of Calculus and Physics and lose his soul? Since we believe that the foundation of education is piety, “the proper fear and love of God and man,” it is necessary that our Curriculum Guide should go beyond academic standards in some of its goals. It must advance from the realm of quantitative knowledge into the realm of wisdom and virtue. Those of us who have formulated Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) know that a key result must be measurable. And yet how can wisdom and virtue be measured by human means? The goal of education is “to love what is lovely,” but where is the yardstick to know whether that has been attained?

Because of these challenges, any Curriculum Guide will have limitations in conveying what it means to be a student. And yet, despite the limitations, the benefits of the Curriculum Guide still make it a profitable tool as we guide students along the way.

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