Real Content in Grade School

A problem:

Most grade schools don't immerse children in real intellectual content, because real intellectual content is seen as too hard for them. 

This is because the "education wars" of the 20th century have torn Plato's ideal of "academic" learning into two pieces: a touchy-feely emotional side, and a hard-as-nails content side. 

One side says, "Don't force-feed content to children — let them play!" The other says, "Don't coddle children — let them cram!"

But real intellectual content isn't developmentally inappropriate — it's joyous and grounded in stories, play, and mysteries. Children crave this sort of understanding. 

Our basic plan:

Teach some of the beautiful basics of anthropology, applied math, archaeology, architecture & design, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, environmental studies, game theory, linguistics, logic, medicine, military science, philosophy, politics, psychology, pure math, social work sociology, systems thinking, and world religions — in grade school!

Don't do this through worksheets and textbooks! Instead, do it through Imaginative Education's early-years toolkits — that is, use stories, mysteries, play, bodily senses, humor, music, games, conflicts, and metaphors. 


The goal:

Kids who are in love with the world, and understand something about it — even the parts that they haven't themselves yet seen.

Students who have not only started probing the problems that vex humanity, but have some sense of what a 360º understanding of those problems might have to include.

Students who know a little bit about nearly everything. 

Students hungry to learn more.

If you walk into a classroom, you might see:

Kids geeking out about topics that most of us didn't learn about until college.

specific questions:

(This idea is currently in beta! If you've thoughts on how to make it better, please shoot an e-mail to Brandon at

Related elements:

Imaginative Education's Somatic Toolkit
Imaginative Education's Mythic Toolkit
Imaginative Education's Romantic Toolkit
Big Spiral History
Learning in Depth projects

To Learn More:

Take a look at how E.D. Hirsch's curriculum, Core Knowledge (not to be confused with the Core Curriculum) tries to address the problem of a grade school curriculum being bereft of much actual knowledge.