Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Sisters Learning Path

I've stated before that I'm writing a curriculum for private and home school whether Rainbow Spirit Academy happens or not, but I've been doing a lot of thinking on it lately and wanted to share my work with you.

I wrote a bunch about it a while ago, but just kept it to myself. Here are my original thoughts:


In a garden, weeds creep in to steal the nutrients the gardener gives to the plants he planted himself. The weeds must be removed so that the plants can grow. Many systems of education treat the arts as a weed which must be removed from the garden so that the intellect can flourish--or, at best, as an unnecessary luxury which drains resources from more important things.

At Rainbow Spirit Academy, we like to think of the arts as one of the three sisters--the three plants (corn, beans, and squash) which Native Americans often planted together to take advantage of their mutualistic relationships. The corn provides a trellis for the beans to grow on, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, and the squash's big, floppy leaves shade the roots of all three, providing a living mulch for the soil in which its sisters grow.

The core curriculum most schools teach is merely the beans--just the facts, with maybe a sprinkling of practical experience and creative thought. At Rainbow Spirit Academy, we like facts--but they do not constitute a complete education. To really be prepared for life beyond school (and not just for the next tier of school!), you need a strong moral, spiritual, and creative backbone for the facts to grow on, as well as a thorough foundation of practical know-how to protect and make use of all that information and creativity.

The Three Sisters Curriculum and Educational Philosophy stems from that idea, so we focus on all three aspects of human learning and development. Each aspect is symbolically linked to one of the three sisters from Native American agriculture:

In a system where each of these aspects is treated as a crucial and inseparable part of a whole, individuals are encouraged to blossom into happy and productive members of their community.


I've decided to call it the Three Sisters Learning Path, though, instead of Three Sisters Curriculum. It sounds friendlier, more welcoming, and I think it's evocative of trailblazing, exploration, self-motivation, and self-guidance, whereas the word curriculum is so harsh. It IS a curriculum, but it's also definitely a way of learning... a learning path. 

More on 3Sisters soon.


Post a Comment