The curriculum is the background that allows teachers to do their job. It defines what has to be learned. SOLE can work very well outside the curriculum but it works even better if done in conjunction with the curriculum. Often in education we become slaves to the curriculum. "How am I going to teach all the curriculum this year," is a comment often heard in teaching circles. There are things in the curriculum that our students already know. Do we need to spend periods reteaching it? The curriculum is there as a guideline, as post markers that allows us to have our students acquire information. The question becomes "How do we apply the curriculum to the students learning?" In this context we apply part of the curriculum that applies to the students as they are reading, writing, revising their work.
The part of the curriculum that interests me the most in terms of SOLE is creating the big question. In my curriculum this has already been done. I pick through this and find the questions that need to be looked at and send the students off to explore it. They always come back with more questions and more information than I could have them deduct in a traditional classroom setting. Does this mean I do not have to each traditionally? Not in the least. There are times when the whole class needs information, needs to learn some aspect of the curriculum and that is when I bring them all together to discuss this. In using SOLE in a classroom one has to move back and forth between the two methods. This flexibility allows the students to maintain that sense of working towards a larger picture.
When I started SOLE, before we ever did anything with it I talked to my class. I talked about my belief that education is something more than information that can be gained through books or the Internet. I talked about how the mind works in mysterious ways, that each person is unique and special and that everyone is capable of learning. How we all learning is different from the person next to us. What we share in common though is the ability to discuss and see new things, to ask questions, to explore new thoughts and discuss them so that our lives are enriched. Everything that has been invented comes from one question, "How can I make my life better?" Everything we do revolves around this and when we explore it we can see that life takes on more meaning. We understand more clearly. We see more possibilities. We determine our values. We take pleasure in being the best we can be. And then I talk about SOLE and how this can help them determine their lives. It is my buy in with them.