Whether they planned on it or not, fist and second year students have been participating in “The New Plan” for Antioch’s curriculum. This year, first years were offered five learning communities each term: American Identities, Cool, Gaia, Citizenship, Sense of Place, Revolutions, Order and Chaos, Science Intensive Core, and Art, Business, and Chemistry. Second Years are familiar with Revolutions, American Identities, and Sense of Place, but also were offered Environmental Justice and Embodied Minds, Thinking Bodies. The curriculum was reconstructed to bring more students into the school, and help students gain General Education credits as soon as possible.
Although the creators of the core program were surely well intentioned, there seems to be a general response of distaste from the community. As a second year student put it, “it’s not that the Learning Communities suck, it’s what they symbolize.” Many community members see the New Plan as a direct attack against Antioch’s history and culture. Very few students understood that Learning Communities were all that was being offered, and were placed in classrooms with shell-shocked faculty members who were under the pressure of “team teaching” for the fi rst time, working the kinks out of course material, and trying to integrate the Co-op program into the classroom.
Students were limited in their opportunities to interact with people outside the Learning Communities, which created animosity and distrust in the community. The largest fault that students found within the program was in the Co-op Department. Students were placed in specifi c “co-op communities” that were not fully developed or supported. First year students also had the experience of co-op class within the core, which aimed to institute positive work values and help prepare students for their Fall co-op. Most students failed this portion of the core, with the exception of Gaia, who removed Co-op class from their schedule.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some positive aspects of “Core” classes or Learning Communities. Considering the short notice given, the classes pulled together pretty well, especially in the second year of the New Plan. As second year student Becca Buel from Embodied Minds, Thinking Bodies said, “There were definitely moments where things were falling apart, but overall it was an amazing experience.”