The Conceptual Competencies Curriculum research project seeks to develop a curriculum framework that will change the direction of our current education system. Through this research project, student Megan Priest will establish a better understanding of the areas where our current education system needs improvements.
“Our education system was designed during the Industrial Revolution to emulate an assembly line for factories. Inserting bells, having kids raise their hands, and grouping subjects together, was all created for people to know how to work in a factory. It was expected that when they graduate from high school, they would automatically understand how to work in a factory, and it would make that transition a lot easier,” explains Priest.
“This is still going on today even though it is not the type of society we live in anymore. Our communities have evolved so much. We are not industrial. We are much more technologically advanced," says Priest.
The idea that the education system has not transitioned to more contemporary practices motivated Priest to develop a Conceptual Competencies Curriculum. “Essentially right now we are creating a generation of kids to be workers. Instead, I think we should focus more on building a fully functional person with self-regulatory skills and the ability to understand their identity and then contributing that into our environment and surroundings,” explains Priest.
In collaboration with faculty advisor Jodi Meyer-Mork, Priest came up with four pillars that will differentiate the conceptual competencies curriculum from our current educational system.
The four pillars include: developmentally appropriate practices, relationship-building programs, project and play-based learning, and social-emotional learning.
“These pillars are important for nurturing oneself and then building who they are, their identity, and then being able to share that within their community. These are all great strategies that normally aren't provided until you grow up, go to college, or move on to a career. Instead, they should be provided at an earlier life stage. By having all of these concepts implemented at such a young age, you're able to start grasping them and building your academics upon it.” says Priest.
“These pillars for learning encourage students to take initiative. They’re aware that they can investigate and don't always need an adult to direct them and their education. It’s essential that students know how to learn on their own, be passionate, and develop their interests and it can also encompass what's being taught in school,” adds Meyer-Mork.
Before starting this research project, Priest had different plans for her future. The opportunity to research an area she’s passionate about has helped her to find a sense of vocation.
“Conducting this research has encouraged me to go into curriculum development and instruction. I've decided that I'm going to go to graduate school and continue researching this because I am passionate about it,” says Priest.
Moving forward into her remaining years of education at Luther, Priest will continue to work on developing this new curriculum framework with a narrower focus.
“Within the next couple of years at Luther, I’ve decided that my research would be more effective if I narrow my focus on one age range, either early childhood or high school, so I could get an in-depth understanding of what a curriculum would consist of at that point of education.”
“An important part of education is that students understand how to learn on their own and be passionate. So to be lifelong learners, whether you're a teacher or whatever you're doing in life, it is important to be curious.”
—Professor Jodi Meyer-Mork
“No one has been altering education. They've been keeping it the same standard way and I think that's the problem. We are more focused on testing than innovating and giving them the tools they need to empower themselves.”