Education: Theirs, Ours, and Yours

I. Course description:

Scholars in this major will explore the origins, philosophical, psychological, moral and religious constructs of educational systems. Then, drawing on these insights, scholars will design their own school system, complete with philosophy, objectives, curriculum, methods, teacher qualifications, physical plant, discipline policy, schedule, and whatever unique features the scholars would like to see impact their own time in school.

II. Instructor’s educational preparation and current employment

Joan M. Potthast

  • BA, English and Theatre, Notre Dame College; MA, English, St. Louis University
  • Chair, Visual and Performing Arts Department, Teacher of Writing, English and Drama
  • St. Dominic High School, 31 St. Dominic Drive, O’Fallon, MO 63366
  • e-mail:
III. Rationale for inclusion in a program for gifted students

These students are very much in touch with their own educational experience, eager to enrich and intensify that experience, and eager to study the learning process. This major enables them to do that.

IV. Major topics covered
  • Investigation in film and literature, and analysis of school situations  around the world
  • Consideration of the components of a school system, i.e., philosophy, objectives, personnel selection, teaching methods, curriculum, discipline policy, schedule, physical plant
  • Study of various theories of education:  Multiple intelligences, constructivism, outcome-based, etc., etc.
  • Creation of a Scholar-Designed School
V. Pre-requisite knowledge: A genuine involvement in and concern for the quality of the scholar’s own educational experience
VI. Learning objectives
  • To interest students in taking an active role in their education
  • To introduce students to the vast body of education literature
  • To help students to understand the educational process more fully
  • To afford the students time for in-depth consideration of their own school and learning situations
  • To enable them to function more effectively in their school situation.
  • To give the students an arena for consideration of school improvement possibilities
VII. Primary source material
  • The scholars’ own educational experience
  • Film clips showing education in various countries
  • Books from numerous areas of education by scholars and educational theorists
  • Information about alternative schools
  • Guest speakers from DESE
  • Internet
VIII. Supplementary source material
  • Magazine, newspaper articles
  • Interviews of fellow scholars
  • Class discussion
IX. Computing and the Internet (if applicable)
  • Students use the Internet for research
  • Students use the word processing programs to type up their Scholar-Designed School
  • This information is also on the MSA Web Page