Delivering the Curriculum
One of the key issues which we identified in our Erasmus Plus project, is the question: How can teachers deliver the curriculum through a “commission”? In Mantle of the Expert, the teacher can select the “enterprise,” and invent a “client” and tasks, to enable him/her to meet curriculum targets. But if the commission is set by an outside agency, it will come with its own demands and challenges which may not exactly square with curriculum targets...
In Dorothy’s model of “Commissions within School,” the teaching staff can invent a commission – and design it to fit their current teaching plans. Teachers might also negotiate with an outside agency to develop a commission which will meet both the teachers’ needs, and the organisation’s.
But the Commission Model also has the potential to change the whole way that schools operate. Because as Dorothy states: the commission drives the learning. This means that, in fact, “there is no curriculum map”. The commission itself dictates the curriculum - as indeed happened in the case of the Hexham Hospital garden:
As time moved on a complex and varied curriculum faced us which needed attention to detail and careful planning of the kind not usually required of Year 9s or teachers preserving their subject areas and working within their boundaries. The tasks are formulated by the needs of the commission. This requires flexibility from all as tasks have to be designed to fit the need, the terms and the time available. [Source: Vision]
Dorothy’s aim was to make schools and the community “more and more interdependent”:
I have this dream that if that could ever be possible children would not have to spend thirteen years of their lives being denied protected responsibility and without power to influence how they spend their time in school. Neither would they be expected to suddenly emerge at eighteen like Pallas Athena out of Zeus's head, as mature responsible members of their community. Mantle of the Expert and Rolling Role work allow them to test their capacities as maturing human beings, and certainly to demonstrate their interests and abilities. A commissions school would make a seamless link between the two worlds of work and active participation in learning together. [Source: Contexts]
For Dorothy, "The perfect model I keep before me of a commission engaging students and staff, and serving the world community is the one in the science department of the school which tracked and identified the first Sputnik in space before even N.A.S.A. knew. Let that encourage us." (Source: Contexts)
(The school in question may have been the Alburquerque High School which formed its own Operation Moonwatch team, and was asked by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to track and observe Sputnik in orbit. The photo shows a similar Moonwatch team in the Philippines.)