Samantha Rodgers' blog

Three good reasons for learning about and using concept based curriculum

The reasons behind understanding concept based learning and how to incorporate it into our teaching are becoming increasingly more important for several reasons.


1)    Many of our students come to secondary schools with a background in it.

In our ESF context, all students who come through the IB PYP have been taught within an inquiry framework, using concepts which link together in interdisciplinary units of learning. The IB MYP’s Next Chapter is also moving further towards the concept driven curriculum with the introduction of key concepts within each discipline area needing to be covered by units of learning.

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Brain based learning: Willingham’s ‘Why don’t students like school?’

WIllingham's book

A few months ago, I was asked about what started my interest in curriculum design and change management. I don’t that there was any one moment, but I do remember the moment, a few years ago, when I knew that there was ‘something’ in these books that I was reading, and when my belief that change was needed- and now- was cemented. This, combined with being a mother whose daughter was just about to enter primary schooling, was a powerful motivator for change. This moment occurred when I was at an ‘Aspiring Principal’ course and I was seated with some primary school colleagues. I had with me a book – Daniel Willingham’s ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?, who as a cognitive scientist was answering the key questions about how the mind works and the implications this has for the classroom.

One primary teacher glanced at the title and said, ‘I don’t need to read that- kids love primary school!’ That comment really got me thinking, one- do kids love primary school and lose that feeling in secondary school, and if I was going to try and make a difference, what would this book tell me?  Continue reading

A new beginning for a great school

I just visited the website for Cornish College in Melbourne, Australia, as it is newly named after breaking from its previous affiliation with St Leonard’s College. A colleague of mine and I visited the school just on one year ago, looking for new, innovative and sustainable education models. This school did not let us down on that score! From the moment we arrived till the time we left in our two day visit we were awed by the students, the staff, the environment and the curriculum. We went into classrooms at ELC, primary and secondary levels, visited the farm on campus, had the children explain the habitat as we walked around the lake, saw interdisciplinary subjects such as ‘What Lifetime, What Learning’,  spoke with ‘Scinglish’ teachers (a Year 10 combination subject of English and Science), saw students digging up veges in their vegetable garden and making rhubarb crumble from their school garden plots. All around the school the students’ artwork is proudly displayed: sculptures, drawings, collages, personal  garden ‘letterboxes’ and more. As a visitor you know exactly who the most important people in the school are: the students.

Cornish College truly lives up to its name of an award winning school- yet it is the feeling of ‘family’ in the school community and the connectedness of staff with students and them with the surrounds that struck us most.

On this new webpage the curriculum is clearly laid out, with unedited testimonials from parents, students and the community on the education they provide (how many schools would be willing to do this, I wonder?).

If you are at all interested in ‘whole child’ pedagogies, curriculum innovation or sustainability, or in a school that ‘gets it right’ in my opinion, a visit to this site will be well worth your time:

And if you do visit in person, tell them I sent you!