Last week I shared the Mirrors, Windows and Doors mental model for opportunities in a school’s curriculum.
🪞 Mirrors to identify ourselves, 🪟 windows to see new worlds and 🚪 doorways to embark on real change.
It struck a chord with many of you. Here were some of the questions I shared:
- What is happening when there is an imbalance?
- What is lost when the curriculum has limited windows on the world?
- What erodes when the experience of curriculum does not mirror the identity of its audience?
The original use of the model is from a literary perspective and how stories and writing can act as those three provocations. It originates from a 1990 essay by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop.
Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books. (1990, p. ix)
I was grateful to hear from Craig Thompson in response to this mental model in last week’s newsletter. He shared a few extended thoughts about the use of the mental model for how we experience curriculum:
what happens when a teacher, school or curriculum design assumes that the mirrors and windows apply in the same way to all children in a school, when in truth one person’s mirror is probably another person’s window
That question resonated as it challenges the assumption we have control over the user experience of curriculum. Craig went on to say:
a full curriculum (with high stakes testing) is potentially problematic…if it leaves little room for teachers or students to flex and personalise learning to suit the current (and often changeable) context.
For what it is worth, it made me think that perhaps we need multiple portals. A curriculum full of an eclectic mix of opportunities to reflect, imagine and create change.
Thanks Craig for sharing your thinking with me. You can connect with him on Twitter