Going all the way back to its conception in 2003, the Crimson Summer Academy (CSA) has had a theme for the summer: “The Student as Citizen.”
If you look at its public-facing webpage, you will see this statement: “The curriculum focuses on citizenship in the 21st century and, more specifically, on what it means to be a responsible American in an interconnected world.” A link takes you to the following page, which includes this paragraph:
Because the Academy is committed to helping students make informed decisions and participate in democracy as active thinkers and leaders, the curriculum focuses on citizenship in the 21st century and, more specifically, on what it means to be a responsible American in an interconnected world. Because the Academy considers successful admission to college a necessary step on the road to personal success, a course called “College Planning and Preparation” is a fundamental part of the curriculum. The Academy’s integrated course of study continues from the first summer to the second. In the third summer, Crimson Scholars take courses at the Harvard Summer School, for which they receive college credit.
I have always taken these descriptions seriously. My Quantitative Reasoning course (QR), an applied math class that stretches over the first two summers, has included several units that fit into the “Student as Citizen” theme, such as voting methods, demographics, and cryptography. The course has also undergone many changes, as we respond to diverse phenomena in the world around us as well as to variation in our student population, which has always consisted of low-income high-school students from Boston and Cambridge but inevitably has changed over the years. But the QR class has always included the “Student as Citizen” theme. Other courses maybe not so much, but naturally I have much less awareness of their nuts and bolts.
Recently we have been discussing whether we need to revisit the theme and the passages quoted above. For a variety of reasons I would like a nearly complete rewording of the text, but substantively I’m happy with the way things are—or I will be happy once we can get back to in-person learning, as Zoom just isn’t the same thing. But not everyone agrees with me. The description doesn’t fit so well with some of the non-mathy courses.
Change, of course, is inevitable and healthy, but change to what? What do you think? Do we just tinker with the wording? Or do we need a real change in content?
Categories: Teaching & Learning