The Core of the Curriculum
Nearly a century has passed since Lucy Sprague Mitchell, the founder of Bank Street College in New York, asserted that learning math, literacy, science, and the arts is more effective and meaningful when they are linked to an active study of a social studies topic. Since then, this integrative view towards education has been supported by the research and experience of educational theorists, learning specialists, and brain experts.
Today in Keys, all children continue to engage in an interdisciplinary study of the world by looking at specific topics through the lens of cultural anthropology, geography, economics, history, and political science. In doing this, they learn to ask questions, search for answers, understand themselves and others, and function effectively as individuals and members of society.
Children go on field trips, conduct interviews, do research, examine artifacts, and collect data to learn more about a social studies topic. They then process the gathered information during social studies period through carefully planned learning experiences such as class discussions, debating, writing books, creating art, making models, dramatic play, graphing data, singing, planning campaigns and organizing events. Skills in language, math, science, and arts are woven seamlessly in social studies. Throughout these activities, the teacher facilitates and guides the work of the children. Consequently, we choose fewer topics than the traditional schools but we organize and develop them more thoroughly and in-depth.
The social studies curriculum in Keys instills in the children a sincere and profound sense of social justice. By understanding the world they live in and their part in it, children are called towards active participation in making the world a better place. The 7’s and 8’s children, for example, end their Pasig River study by launching a multimedia campaign to save and restore the ecology of the river. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission have used, in their own environmental campaigns, the book on Pasig River that the children have written. By knowing what they ought to do and using what they know how to do, the children in Keys are empowered to take positive action.
The founders of Keys Grade School are educators who have extensively applied the philosophy of Bank Street in their teaching and some are graduates of Bank Street College of Education.