By: Elizabeth Kelsey, Kendall Hunt RPD Intern, with contributions from the writing team of Pathways 2.0
“We can’t reduce our kids to a Lexile level and hope to see them succeed. We have to do the hard work of building relationships and developing resilience and empathy in the classroom with as much attention as we dedicate to providing effective instruction, educating both the heart and the mind.”
—We Are Teachers
“Educating both the heart and the mind” of students requires a perceptive teacher and a well-planned curriculum, and literature is one of the most important parts of such a curriculum. Choosing the right reading material can make all the difference. In her book A Twaddle-Free Education, Deborah Taylor-Hough discusses the ideas of educational philosopher Charlotte Mason. Taylor-Hough lists Mason’s ideas about reading in a nutshell, including these three:
- Avoid twaddle (dumbed-down literature). Instead, “feast children’s hearts and minds on the best literary works available.”
- Read living books, where the characters and events come alive.
- Read whole books, not excerpts or condensed versions.
The Pathways 2.0 Reading and Language Arts program is designed with precisely these ideas in mind. To begin, our curriculum offers rigorous content, rather than, as Taylor-Hough terms it, “intellectual Happy Meals.” Pathways 2.0 ensures that students are reading at a difficulty level that is appropriate for them, without oversimplifying or watering down the subject matter. Leah, a reviewer of the Pathways 2.0 program, puts it this way: “If you love great literature, real books, this language arts program is for you. Instead of textbooks and watered-down readers, the kids are reading real books at every level of the program.”
The nine themed units of Pathways 2.0 revolve around rigorous literature that speaks to students’ social and emotional growth. For example, the texts and activities used in the Social Issues and Culture theme teach students how to accept others and respond compassionately to the turmoil in our world. By exposing students to rich texts to which they can connect both personally and spiritually, the Pathways 2.0 program nurtures students’ social-emotional growth while also challenging their intellect.
To move on to the second point, living books, according to homeschool mom Sara, are “typically written by someone who has firsthand experience with the subject or who is truly passionate about it.” Sara uses the example of studying the Holocaust not with a formal textbook but by reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel. “They provide you with depth, spark emotions and thoughts, and generally [are] more engaging,” she says. “They provide more opportunities for curiosity.”
The Pathways 2.0 program does just that with the use of award-winning texts that offer cross-curricular connections and help learners “live” the content. Themes such as Heroes and Yesterday give students a glimpse of the lives of great individuals or the events of previous eras. These “history lessons” are depicted in an interesting and engaging format, not as a dry, fact-laden textbook of names and dates. The Living Things and Environment themes present scientific concepts through the use of storytelling. For example, Phineas Gage: A True Story about Brain Science introduces eighth graders to the parts of the human brain and their functions while also telling a fascinating story.
Finally, Pathways 2.0 promotes the use of whole books. Each Daily Lesson Guide includes resources for teachers to provide instruction for the entire book. Our curriculum doesn’t include excerpts or abridged versions (with the exception of books of the Bible). Instead, Pathways 2.0 guides students to read the entire text, providing scaffolding and support when necessary, challenging learners and enriching their moral development.
Interested in educating your students’ hearts and minds? Contact us today to see how Pathways 2.0 can work for your traditional or nontraditional classroom!
Were you ever served "intellectual Happy Meals" as a student? How do you avoid this with your own learners?