The World Course is the heart of Avenues. Spiraling throughout the curriculum from nursery to 12th grade, the World Course teaches a combination of history, geography, social studies, economics and politics—all from a global perspective rather than an exclusively Western one. The course takes students on a 15-year journey across intellectual, cultural and geographical boundaries, structured around a series of questions that begin with the self and expand gradually to encompass cities, civilizations and the future of the planet. “Who am I?” leads to “What is community?” leads to “Why do civilizations rise and fall?” leads to “What kind of impact can I make on the world in my lifetime?” There are no easy answers to these questions; guiding students to find their own is one of the ways we prepare them to live meaningful lives in a future we cannot imagine.
The aim of the World Course is not simply to educate students about the world, but to cultivate global citizens in the deepest sense: young people who think creatively, critically and empathetically about world issues; who are at ease beyond their borders and aware that their behavior makes a difference in our ecosystem; who approach problems from multiple perspectives and collaborate instinctively to solve them; and who know how to ask the right questions and are driven to do so.
This ambitious curriculum was designed after years of research, with guidance from Professor Fernando Reimers of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and his team of graduate students. Professor Reimers has dedicated his career to studying and advocating for the kind of education that will enable students to live successful and meaningful lives in the globalized 21st century. Today, the World Course continues to evolve to reflect our rapidly changing reality.
“Offering high-quality global education is an imperative of our time. Students must be deliberately prepared, academically as well as ethically, to seize the opportunities offered by an ever more integrated world. Helping to educate, stimulate and enhance global competency among Avenues graduates is the goal of our work and of the Avenues World Course.”
– Dr. Fernando Reimers
Ford Foundation Professor of International Education, Director of the International Education Policy Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education
In the Early Learning Center, the World Course enables our youngest learners to develop a sense of identity. Through studies of self, family and the classroom, nursery students learn how they are similar to, and different from their classmates and how they each play a unique role within their family and classroom community. In pre-kindergarten, students build upon those experiences by studying the larger communities of their school, neighborhood and, finally, their city. Kindergarten students reflect on their own infancy and study how babies grow; they also expand on the theme of identity in a unit on creative self-expression.
In the Lower Division, the World Course encourages students to become active citizens in their school, their community and, ultimately, the world. From self and community, the curriculum branches out, leading students to investigate basic human needs (food, water, shelter), geography and ancient civilizations. Learning is driven by inquiry, and students are asked to contemplate a series of big questions as they move towards 5th grade: What do I know about myself? What are people’s basic needs and how do they meet them? What is a civilization and how are the world’s civilizations different or similar? What are resources and how do they influence people? Students develop global awareness by comparing the cultures of people who live in different regions and making connections between their own ways of life and those of diverse peoples around the world.
In the middle grades, the World Course takes the form of an interdisciplinary humanities program that builds the foundation for global citizenship. In 6th grade, students focus on the rise and fall of ancient civilizations, including technological advances and cultural diffusion along the Silk Road. 7th grade centers on the major innovations and revolutions that shaped the modern world, including the Enlightenment, the Columbian Exchange and the Industrial Revolution. After this epic sweep of world history, in 8th grade students home in on New York City as an example of how a global city comes of age, shaped by forces of demography and urbanization.
In the upper grades, students select World Course electives, each of which focuses on a 21st century global issue. Current electives cover topics such as modernization and globalization; gender, sex and race; and the economics of war and peace. Students especially interested in social innovation can opt for a special project-based elective on the theory and practice of entrepreneurship in a global context. The upper grades World Course curriculum recognizes students as agents of change, allowing them to expand their understanding of the world while encouraging them to put that understanding to practical use.
December 8, 2017
Yayoi Kusama Festival of Life show was such a special experience for our pre-K students as they wandered through her “infinity rooms.” The first room in the show is an immersive experience for everyone who visits, and our 4 and 5-year-olds really seemed to connect with it.
December 5, 2017
Last week, having almost completed all high school math curriculum, a group of 12th graders set foot to find beauty outside the classroom. This time, they looked for patterns not in a sequence of math problems, but ones hidden in the works of artists. As a prelude to their yearlong math-art project, students visited galleries in Chelsea. One of the stops was home to works by artist Ruth Asawa.
December 1, 2017
In 5th grade, students take a weekly one-hour class called Fab Five. The Fab Five classes consist of Drama, Journalism, Public Speaking, Creative Computing and Wellness. In the Creative Computation class, students learned to build a computer from scratch.
November 29, 2017
We asked the kids to share what they know about emotions, and then generated a list of all the feelings we know. One child made a quick connection and said, “Hey! Emojis, emotions. They’re like the same thing!” We used this observation to help us draw facial expressions for our own class emojis and then thought about how and why we feel the ways we do.
November 28, 2017
In Spanish class with Profesora Valeria, 8th-grade students are working on the topic “City Life.” Through language study, they make connections with other content areas; compare the language and culture studied with their own; and participate in home and global communities.