Try getting on a unicycle and the surest thing is that you are going to fall off. “It takes 20 hours of practice to stay upright and this only moves you forward approximately 50 meters,” says Ehud, a 10th grade student and self-taught unicyclist. How about changing directions? According to Ehud, it took him 2-3 months of continual practice before he was able to feel comfortable moving in different directions. “When learning to ride a unicycle, your body is trying to find the best way to find balance. Your waist which connects the upper and lower body is making all the adjustments as the unicycle will keep moving. It takes balancing the whole body to be able to ride.”
Balance can be seen from two perspectives. On one hand, balance is simply mathematical—think of balancing your scales with equal weight, or a balanced meal which consists of set portions of fruit, vegetables, protein and starch. On the other hand, we can think of balance as a judicial balance. Judicial balance caters to our own, unique selves—the way I find balance in my life will be uniquely distinct from you because we are different.
A balanced curriculum takes on a bit of both perspectives. From an all-encompassing, foundational approach, a balanced curriculum offers a wide-breadth of disciplines and opportunities for students to engage. It gives students the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and experiences in mathematics, literacy, scientific studies, social sciences, physical education, music, art. Mathematical balance is defined—it is the sum of all parts.
However, and arguably more importantly, there is a judicial balance within a school which incorporates the main tenet that each and every child is an individual. Judicial balance considers the that students learn differently – with multiple intelligences. Judicial balance takes into account the physical environment, the social-emotional makeup of the students in a class, the growing needs of a community; and builds a program that will foster a love of learning in each and every child. Judicial balance takes a different approach than a mathematical one. This type of balance shifts, changes and evolves as an individual grows. Judicial balance requires a level of self-awareness-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, your motivations, passions, personality and how it all works together to bring you a feeling of wholeness.
When Ehud discovered how to align his body in balance on his unicycle – his passion for the sport soared to new heights. He initiated the Unicycle After School Activity for secondary students and is an active member of the China Unicycle Club. He is now working on adding to his skills and building a repertoire of moves and tricks as he explores Extreme Unicycling as a sport. Like Ehud, we want all of our students to experience balance in a way that shapes who they are as learners. Make adjustments when you fail. Get back up and try again. Celebrate when you succeed. Push yourself to the next level. Cheer on others who are taking on the same challenge.
Balanced Curriculum is a core value at WISS. Systematically, WISS students receive a well-rounded education in all subject areas (literacy, math, humanities, sciences, art, music, athletics, etc). Judicially, balance takes form in relationships within our learning community. Teachers need to be keenly aware of their students unique learning styles. They will extend student thinking and experiences in areas of strength and encourage students to persevere in more challenging subjects. The school-parent partnership, forged by close communication, mutual respect and understanding, and student-centered learning rounds out the sense of balance for our students. Our framework and our community is aligned to bring a sense of balance to our students, thus giving them the tools needed to shape their futures.