A Parent's Guide to a Society-Centered Curriculum

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What do you want your son or daughter to be?
What kind of world do you want then to grow up in?
How can you as parents help guide your children to be productive members of a society?

Do you want the answer?
Choose a school that makes this desire to better ourselves and our community the focus of their instruction. By giving students a larger sense of purpose, the society-centered approach helps children strengthen their conviction to ensure a better life for themselves and for others. This project based and problem solving learning system helps to promote the social skills and community feeling needed in the work place. By teaching students to embrace the larger sense of purpose, students feel free to choose their path by making connections to real life and how their actions impact the world around them.


Are you sick of your child dreading to go to school?
This approach has an internal motivation system that helps to keep students on the track of learning. By not forcing traditional academics on the students, the students are free to learn the basic fundamental skill required through real life application of community. They will develop into productive citizens who will help promote our countries sense democracy.

Do you want to know more? Read below for a detailed description of our programming.

What is the Society-Centered Curriculum? What Parents Really Need to Know.
The Society-Centered Curriculum (SCC) is meant to reach out beyond the classroom and into the community where the world can be changed by students and teachers. The curriculum is based on societal issues, and the goal of the curriculum is to explore and solve those issues. This is very much an activist model, where students are encouraged to be leading activists in their community where life problems, community affairs, and real-world problems exist. The foundation of the SCC is built on real-world problems, and the content is various social issues. In the SCC, students are agents of change seeking to make a difference in their community.

What is the emphasis of the Society-Centered Curriculum? Amanda_Lim_cooperation_2003.jpg
The main focus of the SCC is the group and group action. The SCC curriculum is a problem-solving curriculum, and these problems are to be solved through the participation and efforts of the whole group. Students work to find the social relevance of their efforts and how they can improve their citizenship by the projects they take on. The experiences that the students participate in in the real world are alive, organic, real, and life changing. Students are consistently working to make the world a better place. “Young people are at a formative, idealistic stage of their life, and they need to learn that they can and should make a difference in the world” (Ellis, 74).

What is the teacher’s role in the Society-Centered Curriculum? Teacher-Salary-Teacher-Book.jpg
In the SCC teachers have a very important role. They serve as facilitator: organizing group efforts, showing students that they are in this together, that they need each other, and that they have to have a group to do this. Some often question why this role is so important. We need to realize that children are not born with all the necessary social skills to work together as a group. Therefore, the teacher helps children develop their social skills and create a climate for collaboration and team building. These skills and this environment are essential for success within the SCC. The teacher is responsible for turning their class into a problem-solving unit. They help their unit solve their community based problems by planning and coordinating trips into the community. They are also responsible for making connections with community members who will further help the students with their projects. Since teamwork is such a large part of this curriculum, teachers often work with teachers throughout the school in order to help students achieve their goals.

What is the student’s role in the Society-Centered Curriculum? students.jpg
The students’ role in the SCC is perhaps the most important. They do not sit at their desk with textbooks doing never ending class work. Students are responsible for being aware of the world around them and the issues that impact their life. It is from these life issues and problems that the SCC is developed. Students’ goal is to leave the world a better place than they found it through group efforts. The esprit de corps (the common spirit) is a focal point of the curriculum and developed as the students work together in group projects. Students are to engage in the culture and become involved in the community that lies beyond their school and to make a difference in that community. Participation if the true key of the SCC, and students must work together if they wish to succeed.

Students start their learning process with a driving question. They then take this question and explore it through inquiry using applied knowledge. Students then engage with their peers, teachers, and community members in collaborative activities. The students’ project learning can be scaffolded by various supports including technology. Finally, students create tangible projects that will address their driving question.

What is the learning environment like in the Society-Centered Curriculum? east%20front_1.jpg
The SCC requires a classroom like any other school. Students come together to discuss community issues and decide where their course of study should go. Therefore, the classrooms and schools that participate in the SCC are like a democracy. Students make many of the key decisions.

While there are the traditional grade levels based mostly on age, cross-grade level activities are very common place. Students must work together to solve particular issues, and sometimes that requires other grade levels.

justice_.jpgSince the SCC focuses on the real world, the real world is the SCC’s learning laboratory. Students spend much of their time outside of the classroom and school, and in the community investigating. The SCC has integrated studies where students and teachers work backwards from the problem, trying to find out how they can be of help.

What are the assessments in the Society-Centered Curriculum? rubric.gif
Assessments in the SCC usually focus around the students’ efforts and outcomes. In the SCC students are working to solve problems within their community, and part of their assessment focuses on the outcomes of their efforts to solve the problem. Therefore, students are also assessed on their ability to apply their knowledge and skills when trying to solve the particular problem at hand. The SCC also allows for students to develop their citizenship and leadership abilities, as well as fostering their social growth. A group reflection takes place after a project has been completed where students can get together and share any and all thoughts about the project and what the next steps should be.

Types of SCC assessment include: written work, observations, presentations, informal discussions and questions, project designs, and final products. Teachers are not the only ones involved in the assessment process, students and peers are also actively involved. Students are given the chance to create their own rubric which the teacher can use to assess their learning.

What are the benefits of a Society-Centered Curriculum?
Increases students awareness of social issues and current events
One of the benefits of the Society-Centered Curriculum (SCC) is that social issues are the foundation of the curriculum. Instead of spending their day at a desk reading textbooks and doing seatwork, students are called to participate in real world activities. The focus of the curriculum is on real life problems that are occurring in the classroom, the local community and around the world.

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Fosters positive social interactions
In the SCC, students are constantly interacting with one another, and team building, collaborative effort, and cooperative learning are all a large part of the school experience. Group projects dominate the curriculum, which requires frequent collaboration and fosters the social skills that are necessary for participation in a group. The principles of democracy, participation and citizenship are stressed.
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Engages students in hands on learning experiences
In the SCC, students acquire knowledge through hands on experiences versus through books and seat work. Instead, academic subject matter is introduced to students as a means to help them solve real life problems. When used in this way, knowledge is used when needed, instead of memorized out of context. Students gain the ability to determine which academic skills are needed to solve the problem at hand. As a result, student learning experiences are more meaningful, and they are likely to remember what they learn in school and apply what they have learned to other situations throughout their lives.
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Emphasis on leaving the world a better place through group problem solving
In the SCC, there is a strong emphasis on introducing students to the idea of leaving the world a better place than they found it through collaborating with others in real life situations. Because of this, students are encouraged to explore their communities and determine what issues are of importance, and then to work with their classmates and other community members towards finding a solution. Through this process, students learn the necessary steps of solving a problem, starting with identifying the problem, devising a plan to solve the problem, putting the plan into action, and then evaluating whether or not their effort was successful in alleviating the problem. Students build many skills through this process that will be of value to them throughout their lives, such as decision-making, leadership and teamwork.
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Examples of how a Society-Centered Curriculum Works
Example 1: School Traffic Jam
An elementary school has a lot of parents complaining about the way the student drop off and pick up zone works at the school. This summer the school is repaving the parking lot and all the arrows and lines will have to be repainted.Signs.jpg The principal has given the ok for science students to work in groups and design a better way for student drop off and pick up. Students look at other models throughout the city including schools, public libraries, and other drop-off locations so they can discuss the pros and cons of different systems. Students then design and submit their idea to the principal. The principal chooses a new method out of the ideas presented. Students will have an active role in the society through making real world changes at their own school.


Example 2: Eating Healthy
Local fast food restaurants have been changing their menu items to include healthy items like fruit and vegetables instead of just deep fried foods like French fries. A middle school serves pizza, hamburgers, and french-fries with little healthy choices because those are the only things students will buy. Fruit2.jpgStudents will get into groups and create ideas of how to incorporate a healthier diet for the school. Ideas will include how to educate the school on healthy eating, as well as ideas of how to get the cafeteria to include healthy items. Ideas from the groups will be used in creating a new program for the school that includes eating healthy and a new menu that provides more healthy choices. Students will do research about eating habits, eating healthy, and the effects fatty foods have on humans. Students will have an active role in making changes in their school that will have a ripple effect throughout their community.

Example 3: Crawdads in Arizona
Crawdads (called crawfish in some states) are an invasive species to Arizona with no natural predators. Untitled.jpgThey are believed to have been originally released in the state from fisherman using them as bait. Scientists have discovered that crawdads are responsible for killing off many native species of fish and snakes in some river systems throughout the state. The game and fish department has plans to try to remove them from certain sections of rivers so they can release native fish and snake species back into the environment. Removing crawdads from a river system is not an easy task. Students ranging from elementary to high school in a district located close to a river infested with crawdads are going to get into groups and solve some of the problems the game and fish department is facing.Students will work on ideas of how to educate the public to help volunteer on crawdad removal days. Students will also design methods of how to catch and ensure that all crawdads are removed from a specified section of river. Information with then be turned into the game and fish department in the form of an official school report to be implemented in their section of the river.

WHY CHOOSE a Society-Centered Curriculum??
*Real World Experiences! *Active Social Learning! *Democracy!
*Problem Solving! *Social Skills!
*Teamwork and Collaboration! *Citizenship!
*Making a Difference in the World!
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Who really enjoys sitting in a stifling classroom all day taking tests with paper and pencil?
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How many students are really engaged in reading dry textbooks or solving made-up problems on worksheets?

The best way for our children to learn and grow to be active members of their community is to become an activist early on and apply their education into the real world outside of the walls of the school.
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Unlike the learner-centered curriculum, a society-centered approach encourages students to work together to solve real world problems through active learning in group projects and hands-on activities out in the community. There is enough competition in the world and our future would be brighter with less emphasis on the individual learner rising to the top of his/her class, and more on solving the issues all around us with the help of one’s peers to do so! The teacher’s role in the society-centered curriculum is that of facilitator of groups to come to, “the realization of private dreams versus making a difference in the world” (77). The old saying of ‘two heads being better than one’ has a lot of significance in this model of learning as students learn that teamwork and collaboration really do pay off!
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Unlike the knowledge-centered curriculum, a society-centered approach breaks away from traditional academic subject matter to a more integrated use of knowledge. “...the point is that they are trying to solve a set of problems in a meaningful context, so academic knowledge and skills are not ends in themselves, but useful tools for problem solving” (74). Teachers of society-centered learning help students make connections to real world issues in the community and the environment to give meaning to an otherwise boring set of facts and skills without a place for application. Just moving from one desk to the next and opening one textbook after another just to pass a test has less and less of our children motivated to learn. Not to mention the regression of skills that occurs when students are not required to generalize those skills out into useful application. What better way to assure and assess comprehension, transfer, and retention of skills than to get kids out into the world to put what they learn into practice as they are learning it!
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We want to raise a future of democratic, fair, and learned citizens that are able to function in society together in an effort to make our world a better place to live. What benefit is there to being valedictorian of one’s class or getting an ‘A’ on a science vocabulary test if the community water is polluted, the poverty level is rising, the animals are going extinct, and our children are not taught to care or take action to make a difference?!




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Works Cited
Baksh, G. (November 18, 2009). Society Centered Curriculum Overview. Society Centered Model. Retrieved April 12, 2012. http://societycenteredmodel.wikispaces.com/Society-Centered+Curriculum+Overview

Ellis, Arthur K. 2004. Exemplars of Curriculum Theory. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.