Our curriculum is the bridge between our vision and reality. Through child-centered teaching, we place emphasis on the unique gifts and challenges that each child has, highlighting the importance of “growth” mindsets as opposed to “fixed” mindsets. We teach students that failure is not definitive, and can serve as a conduit for greater success. With effort, even the smallest interest can be kindled into a life-sustaining passion. We want our students to realize that identity, individuality, and intelligence cannot be confined to static, singular labels.
The rich curriculum at Woodland Star is made up of many interactive experiences, hands-on activities, and engaging challenges. For example, during STEM class (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), students build Makey Makey circuitry projects, ranging from musical instruments, cardboard swords for a musical fencing match, and a puppet stand. Literature is an enormous part of the curriculum, as is our emphasis on environmental awareness. We have two outdoor “nature classrooms” and a small “shamba” (patch of cultivated land).
We present subjects through contemplative analysis, encouraging our students to identify bias and ask questions. Not only is this approach useful in breaking down fixed self-perceptions, it is a powerful tool in dismantling cultural barriers. In our studies on social justice, we incorporate a progressive curriculum centered on peaceful change and nonviolent resistance to oppression. This curriculum, entitled “Peace Heroes,” has proven incredibly effective in East Jerusalem. It explores global geography, history, and culture through peace heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
In all aspects of our curriculum, we work towards the sharing of story. This allows children to learn both about themselves, and about the importance of healthy relationship with others. Every child has innate gifts, the ability to actualize his or her passions, and the potential to empower others. This journey of seeing, thinking, and becoming lies at the core of growth. Just as every child can grow, every child can discover how to express his or her own journey of identity, generating connection in his or her world.