Thursday, August 21, 2008

Argument for an Integrated Curriculum

In Norms and Nobility, David Hicks writes:

"In framing my proposal for a unified curriculum, I have asked myself: How does a scholar's mind work? ....A scholarly mind is characterized by an ability to make connections, to visualize the relatedness of sundry facts, ideas, and concepts. The scholer's mind works like a person laboring over a jigsaw puzzle, grouping pieces by pattern, image, and color, whilee retaining in the mind an outline of the whole picture. The scholar derives his exitement and motivation at first from snapping discrete pieces together and, in time, from seeing the image of the whole puzzle begin to emerge. His excitement, as well as his chances for completeing the puzzle, however, depend on his being given a sufficient number of pieces from the same puzzle.

.... The measured unfolding of history is an ideal vehicle for providing this insight into the connectedness of knowledge's parts and for encouraging the student to perform creative acts of scholarship at any early age. History embraces the whole of knowledge, as well as the student himself, but its vastness need not frighten or overawe the novice. At the beginning, it can be treated, as it was by the ancients, as mythology: the same questions can be asked of Churchill as of Tolkien. Being full of discrete puzzles comprising pieces to ever larger puzzles, history affords an almost immediate opportunity for the student to exercise his or her incipient ability to make connections.

Because the student himself is a part of it, the study of history lends itself to normative inquiry, bridging in exciting and ennobling stories the hiatus beween knowledge and responsibility. No subject deserving of praise as excellent in form or in content is excluded from the study of history, and no curriculum framed in history should fail to form a quick, intuitive, scholarly mind.
There is more in the chapter in this strain, along with specific suggestions for a curriculum for the middle and high schools. I thought it was interesting because though I tend towards using language as the heart of my curriculum, I can see his point about history as an integrative pursuit. As a devotee of etymology, I don't think the two -- language and history -- can be easily separated, anyway, so perhaps the serious pursuit of one will tend to pull in the other.

I think David Hicks' curriculum must have influenced Ambleside's.


lissla lissar said...

I wonder if any of the subjects acan be truly separated. They're all interdependent.

Not sure if you saw my comment on your other blog, but Geoff would be very happy to chat with you about Catholicism and Tai Chi, if you'rew interested.

Anonymous said...

A lot of wisdom here!