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Curriculum Making As Co-Creation

An outline of my ‘Curriculum Maker’ project centred on author Clare Rose Trevelyan’s transformation of her Young Philosopher’s Series.

What Happens When A Curriculum Writer Joins Forces With A Children’s Author?

The term ‘Curriculum Maker’ describes how I create educational content in partnership with an independent author. The project is currently centred on author Clare Rose Trevelyan’s transformation of her Young Philosopher’s Series into multimodal experiences of Everything World for home and school.

Invented for her own children, as an overwhelmed mum in lockdown Clare posed herself a question: What if I introduce my children to the power of their minds as if they were having fun in an imaginary theme park of the mind?

The question tapped into years of working with and writing for children in various projects which she felt left them unchallenged.  So, she asked herself another question: how might I engage children to value great thinking… in themselves and in others… ready to take on the big questions of life on everything. 

It’s my job to bring my twenty-five years of knowledge of assessing general capabilities to bear on creating parenting resources.

What Can Parents Do To Foster Their Kids Creativity?

Imagine a place for the thoughts and imagination of children to develop as young philosophers at home… with you… as their parent and guardian… no other expertise needed. Now that’s a big idea!  

Think of this  – Narnia was accessed through a bedroom wardrobe and Alice re-entered Wonderland through a lounge room mirror. Now think of the futility of keeping Harry Potter’s talents suppressed in a cupboard under the stairs.

Illustrations of the door through the wardrobe to Narnia, Alice’s leap Through The Looking Glass and Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs.

So, homes ARE a tremendous platform to take-off from and grow our children’s imaginations. Our question is, how should parents be involved?  That’s what we want to ask you by taking you on a tour of the theme park of the mind, that is, a space designed to grow the creative minds of young philosophers to see why you feel encouraging your children to be creative might be important.

Clare’s Kitchen Table Of Wonder

Philosophy is joyfully challenging.

I believe that an important fact for parents to know is that philosophy is joyful but comes with a challenge. For instance, it demands listening that is not always natural but the result of deliberate choices to draw out from the speaker the counterarguments of their thoughts, beliefs and assumption. You might say, then, that a philosophical text is a meta text, one that foregrounds how young people strive to make-meaning as they listen and speak in community with adults. 

This is what Clare and her whole Red Wool Editions creative team focus on as they develop the Young Philosophers as multimodal and unfinished texts. What do I mean when I say unfinished is that the books call children to make decisions on the fate of characters, consequences and situations. As a result, readers do not just READ the books but they are challenged to reconfigure them as their own work, as books or some other media. 

In this way, you might say that the Young Philosophers Series raises the urgency of the Community of Inquiry method to recognise participants as creators as well as consumers of texts. I believe for this reason Clare’s books bring crucial knowledge for young people living in a digital age.