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Avenues World Elements and the Stars

  • Learning
  • People
Cristine Conforti, Head of Brazilian Program


Childhood is a time of curiosity and wonder. A child looks to the sky and is captivated by its birds and stars. She uncovers life’s miracles piece by piece, moment by moment, fascinated by all that is new.

As the years pass and age advances, some of that wonder fades. Yet, many of us, even if less inspired, remain open and hopeful for moments of awe.

I recently experienced awe when I came across the Avenues World Elements. A table from long- ago chemistry lessons suddenly recalled the stars from my childhood.

Why?

Over 100 years ago, eminent scientists announced that knowledge had no boundaries and answers must be sought across the disciplines. Otherwise, education would decay for lack of questions. Indeed, to learn is to destabilize what is known, to glimpse new endeavors and problems to solve.

This has always been true for me, and I have spent my life as an educator in pursuit of this faraway ideal. But how to arrive at it? How could I bring this theory to light in a school?

My awe for Avenues’ World Elements stems from seeing that this theory, founded in interdisciplinary learning, has a map. It is possible to achieve.

Allow me to explain:

There are two tables, and they share the same aesthetic and logical nexus. The first, the periodic table of elements, was developed in 1869 by the Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev. The second one is ours, Avenues World Elements, developed today as a tool for delineating learning outcomes. Our table outlines the means by which to learn through skills intertwined in a dynamic curriculum.

The original periodic table of elements arranged everything that exists in the universe -- including humanity. Those elements came from the stars. Humankind, knowledge, life… all originate from the big bang. We are part of, and emanate from, this distant explosion. This, we learned in school.

As a metaphor for Mendeleev’s design, Avenues World Elements conveys its intent, form and function through its own table of learning outcomes. Its scientific inspiration and representation signify a new universe, a new big bang in the field of education. Avenues’ World Elements are the new matter, capable of building knowledge as well as molding the new graduates we need for the future.

When I look at these new elements, I see supernovae sparkling. Stars are born and represent the future. That is my experience.

There is more. In the universe, chemical elements are not isolated, but connected. They act and react, with and within all matter.

The same happens for Avenues World Elements. The table you see is two-dimensional, but there are four dimensions in an Avenues classroom, where elements for learning are dynamic and intertwined. Learning outcomes are a mix of living and connected elements. They are a big bang for curriculum and education. 

This is why I came to Avenues: to gaze at the stars and into the future.

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