Based on over two decades of educational research and practical implementation, Ross Learning System offers curriculum across eight integrated disciplines: Cultural History, World Languages and Literature, Science, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Media Studies and Technology, and Wellness. Within these courses, more than 500 interdisciplinary and discipline-specific units are available for students from early childhood to post-graduate level. Each unit provides learning experiences, assessments, integrated projects, and all student and teacher resources necessary to teach the Ross Spiral Curriculum. The Ross Learning System is fully aligned to national and international standards and will provide benchmark and end-of-year exams to track student growth and progress against external and internal measures.
Interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving that privilege a deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and skills are the cornerstones of the Ross Learning System. Providing a holistic education with a focus on authentic connections ensures that students are able to work in an interdisciplinary fashion and follow threaded themes through time and across cultures. Creativity and innovative, critical thinking are fostered by learning experiences both on and off campus, with intentionally designed physical learning environments that are adaptable and multifunctional, ensuring that students learn to work both cooperatively and virtually. Access to advanced communication and media ensure that students possess a high level of sophistication in using media and technology and understanding their role in society. The triangulation of past, present, and future is woven throughout the Ross Learning System. To better understand the present and create a brighter future, citizens poised to make the biggest contributions must have a keen understanding of history and cultural interconnectedness.
Spiral of Cultural History
Ross teaches Cultural History chronologically, using it as a lens to examine other disciplines. The curriculum becomes an ascending spiral of historical events plotted from prehistory to the future, with the student educationally situated in the center of the expanding form. This vantage point allows multiple simultaneous and comparative views of the past and present. It also encourages students to consider local and national events—both past and present—in the context of world history.
Cultural History is at the core of the Ross curriculum, interwoven with all the other disciplines—Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Media Studies and Technology, and Physical Education/Wellness—in a rich tapestry. The Curriculum Flower illustrates this relationship, with Cultural History in the center and each discipline represented as a separate petal, symbolizing the way in which, though each discipline teaches its own specific content and skills, they also overlap and integrate to provide rich, interdisciplinary instruction.
The interactive model of the Ross Spiral Curriculum embodies the systems approach to education, presenting a nonlinear representation that allows in-depth exploration of its content. The interdisciplinary Learning Experiences and Integrated Projects are mapped onto a timeline of history and visualized as networks. The model invites analysis of cross-grade thematic connections, or threads. Among these is the Sustainability thread, which follows this critical curricular theme from kindergarten through twelfth grade, highlighting the units and Learning Experiences that features studies of sustainability. The Spiral Interactive was developed in collaboration with Santiago Ortiz of Moebio Labs.
The Project Circles web app guides students in collaboratively assessing the sustainability of a selected location, in either the contemporary or a historical time period. Through research, investigation, and fieldwork, students determine how the location rates in terms of sustainable culture, politics, ecology, and economics. They note how they arrived at the ratings and generate a profile circle as a visual representation of their findings, including the connections among the four areas assessed. The final part is proposing and engaging in systems-based activism aimed at change in an area marked by a critically low level of sustainability. This tool draws upon the Circles of Social Life approach described online at CirclesOfSustainability.org.
Curricular components in the Ross Sustainability thread include Learning Experiences, Integrated Projects, and Assessments related to cultural ecology, the study of cultural history in the context of the natural environments in which it has developed; systems thinking, the connections between the natural, cultural, and social features of earth and human history; and the increasing complexity of humans’ relationships with their natural surroundings and with each other. With a holistic view that emphasizes the interconnectedness of physical, biological, and cultural phenomena on a global scale, lessons in the Sustainability thread aim to inculcate the importance of understanding and responding to challenges for contemporary ecosystems and human society and culture.