Human Common d aarlitties an
It’s a usual day in an American
high school. Students spend an
hour in a classroom, a bell rings,
and the whole school plays fruit
basket turnover with everyone moving to another room for another hour
until a bell rings and it is all repeated.
After memorizing a myriad of facts,
to another set of
courses, and eventually leave school,
diploma in hand
and a head full of
facts. But can they
use their knowledge in real-life
situations? Can they creatively con-
nect knowledge from many courses?
educated students should do more
than master isolated facts. They
should understand “the connectedness of things.”
Although Boyer celebrated students’ individual differences and the
uniqueness of cultures, he knew that
humans share fundamental char-
Boyer considered art to suggested organiz-
be the special language ing curriculum
of children because, even thematically
before they can speak, they around eight com- monalities shared
intuitively respond to color, by people around
rhythm, and music. the world. By
themes, students can understand how
knowledge from each discipline actu-
ally applies to their lives. By studying
other cultures as well as their own,
students learn to value not only their
uniqueness, but also that of others.
Shortly before Boyer’s death in
1995, the Carnegie Foundation pub-
lished The Basic School: A Commu-
nity For Learning, which presented
a model for elementary education.
In the book, Boyer recommends that
elementary schools become learning communities with a curriculum
incorporating eight core human
communalities: shared life cycle,
symbols, aesthetic response, sense of
time and space, group membership,
production and consumption, nature
awareness, and values and beliefs.
These shared characteristics could
also become a framework for secondary and higher education. Because
Boyer considered the arts to be an
essential language, he thought art
should be integral to all lessons.
Our fragmented education process
dismayed eminent educator Ernest
Boyer. Boyer advocated building connections in learning by organizing
the disciplines differently to integrate
subject matter. He believed that well-
Boyer’s Human Commonalities
1. Life Cycle: All humans share a
life cycle of birth, growth, and death.
Students should learn about their
bodies and how to take care of them
to maintain health and wellness.
2. Symbols: Around the globe
people express their ideas and feelings with symbols. These symbols