By definition, curriculum very precisely dictates what students are to be taught.
Page by page, line by line, the lessons within a course outline are carefully chosen for specific learning outcomes. And those lessons are written by educators, sometimes even large groups of educators.
But there’s one course out there that’s been mostly written by someone without so much as a high school diploma. The Carving 8 course at Chilliwack middle school, and the subsequent Carving 9 course, have been proficiently thought out, written, edited, organized, photocopied, collated and bound by Grade 9 student Clara Templeton.
Templeton is just putting the finishing touches on the curriculum project that’s taken up her time over the last two terms. She and her teacher, Gerald Buchwitz, have presented their project to the school board, along with a handful of other star students within the program. The board was impressed, noting that Templeton may be the youngest person in Canada to write an entire course curriculum. Of course, she’s had guidance from her teacher, but the heavy duty work was all carried out by Templeton.
And it’s been so much work, that she’s had to temporarily set aside the very thing that led her to this massive project — carving.
She tried out carving for the first time last year, as part of the Aboriginal Focus Applied Skills course at CMS. Where the mainstream applied skills are computers, foods, metalwork and woodwork, the aboriginal stream includes art design, carving and foods. Templeton jumped at the chance to be involved with the aboriginal program, to learn more about her own culture.
And as soon as she started carving, she was hooked on it. She’s created several pieces of artwork, some from designs found in books or online, and others from her very own designs. When building the curriculum, Templeton decided to bring in more of the basic First Nations shapes, such as the ovals (ovoids) that make up animals like the bear, the wolf and the raven.
So, as students are learning first how to wield their carving tools, they’re also learning the building blocks of First Nation artwork.
“Some people use carving for storytelling, but for me I just use it to take my mind off of other things,” she says.
The entire project is just about finished and when completed, she and Buchwitz will submit binders to the school board, for their review. Templeton won’t be graded, despite accomplishing a task beyond her years. And, she says, teaching isn’t something she’s considering.
“I’m not really into academics,” she quips, admitting that the curriculum was a bit out of her comfort zone, but enjoyable all the same.
“Because it was something I like, it wasn’t so bad,” she says. “My friends think I’m kinda nerdy but I think it was fun.”