Creating Our Learning Environment Part 4: The Knowledge Wall

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I think it will become apparent that learning cannot be turned off, that given a rich environment, learning becomes like the air—it’s in and around us.

— Sandra Dodd

The Knowledge Wall is a large part of our learning environment. For more in our series on building our learning space, please click here.

I remember when I was sixteen and I first looked at all the possible majors there was in college. A dozen questions raced through my head:

  • What’s anthropology?
  • What’s astrophysics?
  • You can spend four years studying creative writing?
  • What does social work mean?

It was so exciting to see the vast breadth of human knowledge as well as the huge opportunities for what you could study. I remember how free and excited I felt after I found a major that combined my love for studying literature and society (Comparative Literature and Society).

But now I wonder why I had to wait until I was at the end of my time in school to know that there are actually thousands of different areas of knowledge to learn about and understand. In a world as complex and diverse as the one we live in now, it seems limiting and dishonest that the vast majority of our education is focused almost entirely on the four “core” subjects of math, English, science, and history.

At Armada, we believe this is a huge flaw of our current school system. In order for a child to make capable choices, they must first know about the range of existing choices they can make. With this problem in mind, we decided to give our learners an understanding of human knowledge by creating the Knowledge Wall.

The Knowledge Wall displays over 50 different areas of knowledge. The design of the Knowledge Wall is a potions laboratory and mixing cauldron. Each area of knowledge is a potions ingredient on the wall. You can put areas of knowledge together to create a project recipe to mix together in the cauldron.

For instance, if you did a project where you would draw the night sky, you would combine the areas of drawing and astronomy on your project recipe.

Over several months adult mentors would create presentations for the young learners to understand what a specific area of knowledge is about. Then the learners would take a week to make an potions ingredient that represents that area of knowledge.

Making the Knowledge Wall was a great way to show kids how comprehensive the world is and help them to contextualize the projects they are doing in a greater breadth of human knowledge.

We highly recommend talking to your kids about the many areas of knowledge by giving them short presentations about the disciplines. Don’t know where to start? Explain what you studied or your career to them!

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