In Worthington Schools we are convinced that relevance is one of the most important aspects of teaching and learning. We know that as a student, the content we found most relevant was the easiest to learn, so our teachers believe it is their job to help students see the relevance in content they may not find inherently interesting. We know that if we do this, our students will engage in class and be motivated to work outside of class.
Research teaches us that the context of learning matters very much. With today’s traditional focus on educational outcomes in some cases learning at school has become less social and more focused on spitting back content. In our Linworth Alternative Program they are focusing on promoting learning that’s interest driven, peer supported, and infused with technology as one way of putting the focus back on that context of learning. In this model, the process and context of learning matter as much as the outcomes.
A great example of coursework that is relevant and taught in context is our Farm to Table course. The course is designed to lead students through the essential steps in understanding the question “how does my food consumption impact the world?” Throughout the course students analyze food systems and the impact they have on human consumption, determine the actual cost of the Western Diet in regards to the environment, personal health and well-being, government decision-making and policies. The students investigate the production, distribution, and consumption of staple crops and explore the historical movements as well as cultural diet trends.
In addition to these formal areas of study the class has a hands-on component. The class works with the Linworth community garden (which has donated 200 pounds of produce to the Worthington Food Pantry), the pollinator garden and with composting bins.
Students can take the Farm to Table class for a .5 elective credit in either Health, Social Studies or English because the course content is interdisciplinary and covers significant strands in each content area.
High school students today can be passionate learners. Our challenge as a school district is to design coursework that taps into that passion and makes certain that all of students’ passionate learning is not done outside of our curriculum. With Farm to Table Linworth teachers Mark Shannon and Laura Zelch have done just that.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent