I Let My 7th Graders Design My Curriculum. They’re Pretty Good at It

It all started with a simple question: What if we let seventh graders design their own curriculum? This sparked my journey into experimental education, where I discovered that young students not only possess remarkable creativity and intelligence, but are also eager to take control of their learning experience.

I have been a teacher for over a decade, and throughout this time, I’ve witnessed countless students struggling with traditional methods of education. More often than not, they felt disinterested or unchallenged by the pre-determined lesson plans. With these concerns in mind, I set out to create an entirely new educational model for my seventh-grade class—one that would allow students to contribute their ideas and shape their educational journey.

The Process

The first step was to seek input from the students themselves. I began by inviting them to share their thoughts on what they deemed relevant and important in today’s world. Their suggestions ranged from climate change and mental health awareness, to entrepreneurship and coding. Excited by their enthusiasm, I encouraged them to dive deeper into these subjects and start researching potential learning goals and projects.

We then gathered the most popular ideas and divided the class into groups according to their interests. Each group was responsible for creating a detailed lesson plan that would cover multiple subject areas including science, math, English, history, and social studies. The plan needed to include objectives, teaching strategies, class activities, and assessments that would capture the interest of the entire class.

The Results

As the weeks unfolded, I was astounded by the transformation that took place in my classroom. The energy level rose dramatically as students eagerly participated in group discussions and exchanged ideas. They knew that they were shaping their own educational experience and embraced it wholeheartedly.

The lessons were rich with diverse content that not only tested the limits of our educational standards but also introduced new and innovative methods of teaching and learning. Concepts taken straight from the real world allowed students to see the impact of their newfound knowledge, and the hands-on approach gave them a sense of ownership over their work.

One of the best outcomes was the way in which students worked together to overcome challenges and implement solutions. They didn’t shy away from mentoring each other, especially when it came to areas where they possessed certain strengths or skills.

The Feedback

I surveyed my students at the end of this experimental period, and an overwhelming majority expressed greater satisfaction and engagement in their education as a result of being given the chance to design their own curriculum. Students felt that they had more control over their learning environment, resulting in increased motivation and academic performance.

Final Thoughts

This experience has taught me that giving students control over their educational journey can lead to incredible results. By placing trust in their abilities and opening up the classroom for collaborative exploration, we can challenge traditional methods and create a learning experience that caters to individual needs and interests.

Empowering students to take charge of their education fosters creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, self-awareness, and leadership skills—all essential tools for success in today’s ever-evolving world. Perhaps it’s time we rethink our educational models and give students a chance to show us how capable they truly are.

Choose your Reaction!