Friday, May 9, 2008

The Creative School

I'm pretty excited about what Alyshia wrote, and I'd like to write my post on radical interdisciplinary design focusing also on education. RID is pretty much taking multiple unrelated fields and trying to do something useful with them combined. In this case, I'm thinking about combining a variety of artistic, scientific and other such fields to create a school.

Looking back on the things that have fascinated me late in my high school career, I realized that I always loved fields, exercises, and assignments where I created things. This would be as opposed to taking info in, spitting it out, performing, or finding out-- though I had a reasonable love of the latter of those.

For example, I never learned much in English class until I tried to create my own language (which was incidentally after reading Lord of the Rings). Then subjects and objects made sense, and gradually other things fell into place. I never enjoyed poetry until I tried writing it on my own. I never enjoyed performing on my violin, but it led me into music composition, which I enjoyed immensely. And now, though I can stand applied physics and computer science theory, and so forth, I'm always doing projects on my own, and designing new things to do-- everything from learning programming languages to designing a simple computer to be made out of TTL chips.

So the idea here, the reason I'm writing all of this, is because it dawned on me: what if there was a school that taught everything in this style? If I could roughly divide the arts into the performing and the creative, it's always the creative ones I've enjoyed (this is not to say that dance, music, etc are not creative-- but I'd rather do choreography and composition).
Why not teach all the sciences in as hands-on a method as possible. And by the time we start thinking about the liberal arts, it's awesome!

So here are some of my ideas a curriculum (and keep in mind, this would be something aimed more towards the 5th to 12th grade, but that's sort of up in the air still).

-Music: music would be taught through composition. Students would also be able to learn instruments, because reading music and the ability to play other students' compositions are still valuable. It's hard to feel comfortable composing if you can't improvise on at least one instrument.
-Visual arts: Painting, drawing, sculpture would all be staples of the art program. Students would also be encouraged to push the bounds of art and integrate it into other fields. In some ways, aesthetic design.
-Dance: an emphasis would be placed on allowing students to choreograph their own dances and shows. Of course, dance would also have to be taught so students were comfortable with making their own.

English and Literature
-English: students would be able to create their own language, which would begin after learning a second language had begun, and presumably would tie into English
-Geography: learning about how geography impacts society, from the obvious levels usually covered to stuff on the scale of Guns, Germs and Steel, students would have the opportunity to create their own "countries" that they could give a geography, culture, religion/s, government, and so forth. I know I would have totally dug this assignment as a sixth grader.
-Literature: Emphasis would be placed on writing in imitation of all the styles read: short stories, novels, non-fiction, biographies, poetry, etc.

Science, Math
-Science: the focus of science would be on creation of projects and demos that show the principles learned. Special emphasis would be given to application (engineering?).
-Math: Personally, and I don't know how applicable this is to the younger grades, but a huge amount of emphasis could be placed on drawing connections between mathematic and scientific concepts. For instance, over the past few months, we've been studying Fourier and Laplace transforms in Signals and Systems in the context of circuits and electromagnetic waves. However, they also have application in mechanics, image processing (and compression), sound processing, voice recognition, and so forth. However, I had to investigate these things on my own, and I've been absolutely fascinated.

Anyhow, that covers some of my initial ideas for such a school. As is evident, it would be a setting for major RID-- all sorts of fields would be covered, some would be ignored, but all would be used in a way so as to give students confidence in their own creations by bolstering their ability to create and recreate anything that they'd like.

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