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What is the fuss all about?

You just read a piece about how we connected the characteristics of a complex system to three principles but what is it that they do that help our daily lives at school? Why do our principles matter? How are they important to everyone in our community?

As explained before, Totality, Relations and Authorship were chosen as the lenses we needed to organize our school based on our understanding of learning - they influenced our architecture, our organizational structure and mostly, they defined our pedagogical model and our daily interactions.

Our first step was to connect them with the competencies, abilities and knowledge students would be taking with them when they graduated Camino School. We asked ourselves: when they leave Camino School, how will they be ready to live in complexity? How will their actions and experiences inform their decision making? What comprehensions and competencies will they need to take with them in their lifelong journey as learners? We then broke each principle into tangible concepts we want our students to learn at Camino School and take for life.

Enduring Understandings are what we call the concepts derived from those principles. They base both our learner profiles (we are kind, learners and we are the school) and our curriculum work (what we are expected to learn in STEM, Expressions and Humanities). EU's, what we call them, are how we see these principles of Authorship, Relations and Totality in action.

Below I explain a little bit more about each Enduring Understanding and in the next articles I will give you some examples of how we see them at Camino School.

Totality is about:

  • Interconnectedness means understanding that everything is connected, even when you can't see it. In scales big or small, far or distant, interconnectedness means that responsibility for the other and sense of belonging is for everyone. In Stem, this means learning about ecology and ecosystems, in Humanities, the importance of geopolitics and in Expressions, the power of art to express the world.

  • Openness means being available and curious about life, able to suspend judgment and ask interesting questions to support your thinking. It means being able to change your mind to welcome the new, to be in awe for equally simple and complex things. For STEM this could mean learning about innovation, understanding the influences of new cultures in humanities or the implication of art movements in expressions

  • Diversity means knowing you are in a world of multiple perspectives and characteristics with similarities and differences between them. It means that you embrace that it's where we see differences that we find the energy to grow and change as a society and within ourselves. The many species and how they interact and depend on each other, the many different languages and how movement has many different ways of happening are some of the main ideas we can learn about diversity.

Relations is about:

  • Communication is about being able to exchange information effectively with other beings and knowing that the exchange is not complete unless both parties have engaged in it. From feelings to protests, communication is a multi-layer event that requires our constant presence and availability. You could code a chatbot to speak to a friend, or use AI to write incredible persuasive essays and even perform a play to express a message - but your message is only communicated when you connect with who is on the other side.

  • Integrity means you know your values and how they interact with the rest of the world. Integrity gives you the capacity of zooming in or zooming out to see how your actions will influence the others around you, a collection of core beliefs about how you should act in different situations. Determination, assertiveness and flexibility are the ways you cultivate integrity even as views of yourself and your values change through life. The scientific method can keep us on the right track to prove new ideas, sociology and history tell us about our collective choices and it takes deep resolve to produce original art.

  • Empathy is understanding that in order to be truly connected to one another we must acknowledge our differences and find the common feelings that make us the same. Vulnerability and courage are needed to face what makes us sad, scared or happy and support other people with generosity and an open heart. Science tells us our brains evolved to support empathy, just like we have seen individuals through time changing the world because of their empathetic fights. Empathy is what allows for our deep reflexive experience when we watch a play or when see a photograph that touches our emotions.

Authorship is about:

  • Agency is about understanding your role as an agent of your own life and the responsibility it brings. It's both an action towards yourself and towards others. It means knowing your acts can influence the environment and that not taking part is already choosing an action. Fighting for something you believe in can mean challenging the status quo at your school or your community and having the courage to express your different ideas can spark awareness and change.

  • Creative Awareness means you are able to use your creativity to help you navigate complexity and make good decisions as you go. It describes your ability to observe the world around you and see it's hidden qualities and traits. With creative awareness you can solve math problems you have never seen before or being able to write a narrative about a land that doesn't exist. Sparking creative awareness in yourself and is a driver for the aesthetic experience described when you find yourself immersed in art and music.

  • Self-Efficacy is knowing you can do something, even if it's hard. You might not even be sure that you can achieve it, but you know you are able to try, learn and you feel safe to keep trying. Deep learning depends on our self-reflection, self-regulation and self-reflection (metacognition) and self-efficacy is how those competencies are translated into every individual. It's what gives you the courage to make mistakes in math and science, the resilience to learn how to read and the safety to paint outside the given lines.

These Enduring Understandings went on to be the starting point of our curriculum and our expedition planning: every experience, from math drills to interdisciplinary projects, is connected intentionally to one of these. In order to achieve the long term comprehension we set out to spark, each knowledge area - STEM, HUMANITIES and EXPRESSIONS has their set of deriving EU's, with tangible learning objectives connected for each grade level.

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