Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 13, 2011

Homeland Security Education: From pre-school to life long learning

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on August 13, 2011

This was originally posted by Phil Palin on August 12th

I appreciate Dr. Kiltz setting out the issue and offering a comprehensive and coherent framework to engage. I have critiqued some key elements of her framework. But she has done the better work of creating and offering the framework.

I have also appreciated my colleagues’ posts. Mark and I so often agree that we are probably each feeling vindicated to finally disagree with each other. The varied comments — with some sense of conversation — have been encouraging and helpful.

The exchange prompted some thinking. This is far from being sufficiently well-considered for the front page. But as a kind of mental exercise, here’s a strawman academic program for an ideal sort of professional involved in what we sometimes broadly and vaguely call homeland security.

Pre-School and Kindergarten: Develop soft skills of attention, perseverance, curiosity, collaborative problem-solving, negotiating shared space, toys, and other stuff, communication, building trust, and behaving in a trust-worthy way. As our frequent contributor John Comiskey has mentioned, he learned everything he needed to learn in kindergarten. Well, it would be nice to have it start even a bit earlier earlier.

Grades 1-4: Organized and individualized playful engagement with the external world especially the worlds of nature, numbers, words, and the social experience.

Grades 5-7: Organized and individualized engagement in how to conduct explorations and create experiences to share with others through research and design using science, writing, art, drama, math, programming, music, and other media meaningful to the learner and his/her context. Introduce learners to unfamiliar worlds including: foreign languages, different cultures, history, abstract mathematics, etc. , etc.

Grades 8-10: Team based and individualized experiences focused on how an individual productively engages with others — including very different others — to achieve shared objectives: the more tangible the better (including team sports), organized in a way to make explicit principles of individual integrity, personal creativity, the consequences of choice, justice, friendship, social effectiveness, the production of value, and differentiation of value.

Grades 11-13: Personal practica and adventures where the learner engages with others in something complicated — even better, complex — that is passionately important to the learner. With the help of mentors the learner reflects self-critically on the experience, especially using skills of analysis, synthesis, and creativity. Some of these practica and experiences would involve working in public safety, emergency management, firefighting, disaster response, emergency housing, and related concerns. Those emerging from these “adventures” would be the next generation of our professions.

Grades 14-16: Exploring the lessons-learned of others who have had adventures; including learning from literature, philosophy, religion, history, case studies, recreating laboratory experiments, and much, much more. Using their personal adventures as a touch-stones the young men and women (roughly 18-22 years of age) consider the lessons learned by others and what these other lessons may say to them. The skills of analysis, synthesis, and creativity are advanced as much as possible.

Life-long learning: After completing this 16 years of formal education our learners would join specific professions, such as law enforcement, firefighting, public health, and so on where they would receive profession-specific education and work across professions to solve real problems. At least every seven years our learners would have seven months of “refresher” learning in an explicitly interdisciplinary environment.

I pounded out this superficial vision in less than a half-hour.  It will not hold up to much specific scrutiny and is beyond any realm of practicality.

But, but… boy I think these kids would be some kind of police, firefighters, emergency managers and more.

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5 Comments »

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Four for Saturday

August 13, 2011 @ 1:07 am

[...] Phil created a pre-kindergarten through life-long-learning homeland security curriculum. [...]

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 13, 2011 @ 5:39 am

Well… Chris did not ask my permission to repost this from the comments, but I appreciate his sense it is worth the front page.

The morning-after I want to amend the sequence so that grades 11-13 (personal practica and adventures) can be understood as potentially continuing for longer than three calendar years and may recur over a lifetime.

To potentially clarify: the sequence is cumulative, just because I don’t explicitly mention music or math after grade 7 does not mean they disappear.

I will also note that I see the sequence of seventh year interdisciplinary refreshers as natural pivots when someone in one profession might shift to another.

In many lives — even millions of lives — something rather like this sequence happens, but it happens in parallel, even in tension, with the formal educational process. I believe in the value of creative tensions, but the current level of friction is not helpful.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2011 @ 6:47 am

Yes a worthy post! Hoping Chris will not be shot at dawn.

Comment by Linda Kiltz

August 16, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

Phil, very interesting and creative K-12 curriculum. Would you include a themed approach to learning whereby students in each grade would be given a real world complex problem to solve and each class, from math to English to Science to PE, would teach students the skills to to try to solve that particular problem? This would truly create a more interdisciplinary world of teaching and learning.

But then how would that help those students pass those silly tests every year?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 17, 2011 @ 5:02 am

Real World problems to me are always a good choice for teachers in k-12. And somehow the standardized test creators just don’t often have time for them.

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