Must There be a Core Curriculum?

In the United States education system there are four core subjects: Math, Science, History and English.  There is at least one class dedicated to each subject every school year starting in first grade.  However, is this necessary?  Could a student interested in physics forego history and english? Would it be more beneficial for this student to use the time spent on history and english on more physics and math?  With more time dedicated to the subjects closer to physics, the student could learn about the subject they are interested in with more depth and become an expert sooner, allowing them to contribute more.

However, when would students know that their “calling” is in physics?  What if, after 4 years dedicated to physics starting from the age of 7, the student changed his mind?  At this point the student would have very little knowledge and skills to apply to other fields of study.  The student would have to start over.  Not to mention, the student would miss out on learning some key things for other subjects when they are younger, which is a vital period for learning. With a variety of classes, students might have an easier time choosing what they think they would like to focus on because they will have the basics for several subjects.

What about supplementing classes?  There is an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting that music and math are closely tied.  Students who pair music with their academic studies tend to perform better in math.  If a physics focused student ignores music, could this actually hinder the students ability to improve in performance?  Could it be that other subjects enhance a student’s ability to learn physics, too?

Which is better: focusing or broadening?  What is the proper balance?

Our current model is: broad learning from K-12 and then focused learning after that.  Does broad learning last too long, just right or not long enough?


4 thoughts on “Must There be a Core Curriculum?

  1. Pingback: Re: Core Curriculum « thinkaboutEDU

  2. Pingback: Is it time to let the Core Curriculum go? « thinkaboutEDU

  3. If there was a narrowing of focus as such a young age, wouldn’t the parents determine what their child studied and would that be driven more by future earning potential than interest, passion and talent? I know over my lifetime I’ve benefited from continuing to broaden my studies (informal as well as formal) while still developing in a specialty. This past spring I talked to several pre-med students who took the ENGL 3154: LITERATURE, MEDICINE, AND CULTURE” course required for the minor in Medicine and Society. They were science majors who had “gotten Freshmen English out of the way through AP coursework in High School” they thought they were done with literature. Many of them expressed a “rediscovery (or a first discovery) of an appreciation/enjoyment of literature that helped them see their discipline (medicine) in a new light. Along with that rediscovery was a regret that they had “gotten literature out of the way” – many were graduating and off to medical school.

    • Excellent thought and inspiration for another post (soon): what is a parent’s role in their child’s education? This question is a very important concern, especially when parent involvement can sometimes detriment a student’s learning. Parents have a lot of power and influence over their kids. How can they use this effectively for their children?

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