The Thematic Matrix

Essays ramble. Matrices get to the point. They focus the mind on what matters. So what should every high school or college graduate know about physics, chemistry, ethics, history, economics, political science, art, music, fitness? What is the best way to teach the critically important concepts?

Let’s figure this out by exchanging curricular matrices.

Each subsequent page attacks a specific discipline. The hope is that experts in each field will individually and collectively come forth with better ones. The general format is as follows:

Topic x (Science, Humanities, Arts)

Example A Example B Example C
Concept #1                    ?             ?             ?
Concept #2                    ?             ?             ?
Concept #3                    ?             ?             ?


If there is a topic worth teaching, there is a topic grid worth committing to memory. Any topic worth studying has at least three key ideas that can be demonstrated in multiple ways – using words, numbers, and images. The better the teacher, the better the framing of the demonstrations, the sequencing of questions and the more ubiquitous and cheap the objects needed so that the student can more easily repeat the lesson for the benefit of others outside the classroom.

Imagine the now blank walls of countless classrooms and hallways brought to life by thought-provoking matrices that help focus the minds of students on what matters most and how to apply these concepts in multiple settings.

The best graduation test for a student would be the ability to walk a prospect  through the school enchanting her with the stories graphically displayed.

Imagine a prime time “Academic Idol” television show in which aspiring or experienced teachers compete by bringing to life a learning matrix or even just one of the squares in it.  The judges might be the President, the Secretary of Education, the chairman of the Fed, Beyonce, Warren Buffett, or Michael Jordan.

The higher the rewards for great teaching, the greater the desire to become one.

Let the crowd sourcing begin.