Learning Cultures is designed as an alternative to traditional linear transmission curriculum approaches. Transmission models consist of prescribed curricula covering content according to a specified program of instruction. This approach is common in most classrooms.
The Learning Cultures model breaks away from tradition and transmission. Instead of following a linear map or lesson sequence, the curriculum is built around a set of engaging social practices, called Formats (Bruner, 1985), which are organized to ensure students meet high learning standards.
The underlying logic of the Learning Cultures model is based on the idea that student responsibility is key to learning (Olson, 2003). Since students only learn what they take responsibility for, the curriculum is organized to provide choice and autonomy to students to allow them to make decisions about their learning through meaningful and engaging activities. When students are agents in their own learning, they have better opportunities to think critically, flexibly, and strategically. When they are made aware of high learning expectations and given the responsibility to meet goals, they become more determined to succeed.
Learning Cultures is not an expensive package, nor an overly-complex series of teaching gymnastics, nor a specifically-written curriculum for a “problem” subgroup. It is a coherent and concrete approach to literacy instruction that removes the guesswork from student-centered, socially collaborative instructional practices in order to ensure that children meet high learning standards.