Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

When Flexibility Means That ‘Majors’ Start in 1st Grade

January 29, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The idea of “universal design for learning,” originally focused on special education, seems to recognize that everybody learns differently because everybody is different, and that our one-size-fits-all general education system is failing to excite the many children who don’t fit (“‘Universal Design’ Concept Pushed for Education,” Oct. 31, 2007).

I have a proposal to ramp up children’s enthusiasm for school that could be implemented at almost no cost. This is simply to institute a system in which each student, from 1st grade on up, selects a personal “major” to reflect his or her current interest or enthusiasm.

Many assignments—general writing, reading, researching, art, history, geography, presentation, or discussion—would then require coverage of some aspect of that major. In this way, children would be engaged with their subject matter and happy to study or defend their choice.

A major could be any topic, from Britney Spears to ice hockey, worms, basketball, horses, or any of the myriad interests of children that adults cannot imagine. Provision would be made for declaring a new major at not less than two-week intervals in the early grades, with longer intervals for older children. This system could continue through high school.

Assignments could be framed to cover topics in ways that would not increase work for the teacher and might even provide more interest in grading.

I would be interested to know what experienced teachers or others who may have tried a similar idea have to say about such efforts to increase the flexibility of school assignments.

Randal Peart

Eau Claire, Mich.

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 2008 edition of Education Week as When Flexibility Means That ‘Majors’ Start in 1st Grade

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read