The Cycle of Exploration
Where do we come from? What are the origins of the things and experiences in our lives?
How do we exist in this world? What are the systems and processes that make life possible?
How are we trying to change? What are the ideals and aspirations that drive us toward greatness in every field?
In the Beginning year
Teachers and students have investigated universal origins, how the earth and land are formed, the creation of rocks, the evolution of life, genetic inheritance, and the growth of a plant from a seed. They studied their own family history, cultural influences, holidays and traditions, places of origin, and social and political roots. They looked at the origins of language itself, the etymology of words, the languages of their own history, and works of literature that describe new beginnings. They considered the evolution of number systems, the binary language of computers, the way units of measurement developed, and the concept of time.
In the Living year
Our community reaches out into the neighborhood and community, learning about the food system, water usage, communications, transportation, technology, construction, and money. We build models to reflect the various needs of a city. We study the human body and its functions, health and diet, ecological systems and habitats, the movement of planets and stars, the physical properties of matter, inventions that make our lives better, and the chemical processes that allow people to eat and breathe. We read and write stories about real communities, interpret different languages, and examine poetry, myth, letters, video, journalism, and the Internet as tools of communication. We consider how to use data and statistics to describe the way human beings live, the problems they face, and the effects they have.
In the Becoming year
The classes will address the process and motivation for change. They will read and write texts about how people aspire to improve themselves and the world, how language is used to inspire and transform, and what words show about people’s beliefs and opinions. They will look at the lives of great people in the past and present, the movements they inspired, the ideas they promoted, and the historical shifts in which they played a role. They will use mathematics to study change and the unknown, data projections, and psychology. They will study the revolutions of technology as it alters our vision of the future, the possibility of space travel, the solutions to climate change, the improvements in medicine, the science of brain research, gene mapping, and human development.
One advantage of a three-year cycle is that our students get to experience each theme twice over the course of elementary school. In the younger years, the themes relate primarily to their direct personal experience of the world. In the older years, the themes take on wider global significance as their awareness of the world expands. The topics shift and change, but the underlying perspective endures.