Emergent Curriculum

When a school decides to do open inquiry using an interdisciplinary approach, they will have to get comfortable with emergent curriculum.

This can initially freak people out. What do you mean…no curriculum?! Nope. The curriculum is co-constructed from what the learner really wants to do with a teacher. It is not assigned by a teacher. Or a government. It is not just differentiation from one particular topic or subject.


Imagine this:

A student identifies an area of inquiry such as:

“How can I make an original film?”

This person then begins to dig into the research and discover processes. As film is a highly collaborative endeavor, there are many avenues to explore: script writing, camera work, rehearsals, editing, and more.

Through digging into the research, that person may uncover some piece of knowledge that they were completely unaware of and then take off in an entirely new direction.

This is an emergent curriculum. It is responsive to what the learner needs in real time. It is never served from a can, delivered by a teacher. It is an organic process. As mentioned in previous posts, it is in line with how information and knowledge are being created today: from stocks to flows.

Being able to facilitate learning outside of one’s area of expertise is a requirement in this approach that many practitioners have little to no experience with. It is an art form to guide learners in building their own curriculum.

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