Curriculum based education was a hot topic Thursday night. Should schools adhere to a curriculum or should they turn laissez-faire and let the students frolic? I have some personal insights to throw out. But first let’s whip out the dictionary. There are two etymological roots for “curriculum” listed at

  • Origin: 1625–35; < L: action of running, course of action, race, chariot, equiv. to curr(ere) to run + -i- -i- + -culum -cule2
  • Latin, course, from currere, to run; see current

Our two common denominators here are “course” and “running” as in a track course that one would run on. Reconnect this with curriculum based education. Should we systematically train students on a track course or should we let them run free on the open terrain? If the conceit of running to learning is accurate, let the student run in every way. Train it on the track and follow it through the field.

The track and the open terrain are different environment and each serve a difference purpose. The track is measurable, level, optimized and monotonous. On it a runner can easily set a goal and measure its progress. The open terrain is less predictable and poses more of a challenge with the wind, rain, sun, and bumpy grounds. It can definitely be more exciting than a track and makes a runner more adaptable as opposed to optimized.

This is basically a parallel for conservative education vs. liberal education. Each has its advantages, but determining which is better for you depends on your goals. For me, both are necessary. I have a destination both as a runner and as a student, but I also want to see what else is out there. I have goals that I reach and raise both as a runner and as a student, but I also want to round my body and mind in other ways, too. I try both to be a quick sprinter and a strong jogger and to be a logician and an innovator.

Be all. That’s the surest way to know all.