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Same Planet, Different Worlds

    Same Planet, Different Worlds
    by Kevin Killion
    October 1, 2000

    I subscribe to several "teacher" e-mail discussion lists to get a tempo of what's going on out there. It's hard to think of a better juxtaposition than two messages that came today, appended below.

    The first is from a list of Core Knowledge teachers discussing CK and critical thinking.

    The second is from a discussion group on brain-based learning, a hot fad in the progressivist world.

    I think the contrast speaks for itself.

    From: [email protected]
    Date: Sun, 01 Oct 2000 16:14:33 EDT
    Subject: Re: critical thinking
    To: Multiple recipients of list

    As I "looped" with my former 5th graders into 6th this fall, I spent the summer preparing for the new 6th grade curriculum. I loved the 5th grade curriculum, but when I surveyed the 6th, I was dismayed at the seemingly diverse and disconnected topics I was going to teach. I know that everything doesn't have to be integrated, but 5th grade seemed to naturally fall into themes that flowed together.

    Then about midway it hit me ( I guess I finally did some critical thinking!) My former 5th graders were fascinated with the idea that some revolutionary "thinkers" such as Petrarch and Boccaccio were able to turn the world upside down with their ideas about life and to initiate the founding philosophy of the Renaissance. They totally "got" humanistic philosophy, and loved discussing its influence.

    Well, here I was with Isaac Newton in my Physics class and the Enlightenment and French Revolution in my Core! (This, of course following the study of Ancient Greek philosophy.) Our goal this year is to answer the fascinating question of how Isaac Newton (like the humanistic philosophers during the Renaissance) set the ideas in motion to turn the world on its ear again and indirectly "cause" the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the Declaration of Independence, and the American and French Revolutions!!!

    This of course leads to the Romantic Era in response which leads to.......etc. Does Core Knowledge promote critical thinking? You bet!

    Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 18:50:39 EDT
    Subject: Halloween craft with dried orange skins

    Hi ...

    I do craft work using the skins of dried citrus fruits that can be put on a shee of paper with elmers glue. The dried outer skin has no glue and maintains the wonderful citrus smell. You can put the peels in the shape of a pumpkin ...

    You can also take just a large slice from the end of an orange and it looks like a pumpkin face ... especially if you cut into it with an exacto knife (no kids here) ... or add decorations.

    You can dry at a low heat in the oven ... experiment (so many possibilities regarding lessons ... how the size changes, how the taste of the skin changes, weight ... etc. You can also use a food dehytrator.

    I actually do a craft idea that is related to this ... "My car is a lemon and an orange and lime too" ... In this case for the wheels I actually dry two slices of the citrus fruit.

    I sent a message to this last teacher, politely asking,
    >Just curious ... what grade level do you do this with?

    The reply:
    >Anywhere from 3rd to 5th.
    >kind regards,

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