A unique partnership focused on advancing a worldwide middle school curriculum to give students the tools they need to succeed later as adults in a global economy is being forged at The University of Southern Mississippi.
The Center for Research in Creative Learning is a collaborative partnership of arts and sciences programs and agencies with state and national education entities, developed to apply relevant research findings to expand knowledge about and advance creative and interdisciplinary learning. It was initiated last year at Southern Miss.
“Our goal is to promote a curriculum grounded in 21st century learning skills to prepare people for entry into the global workplace,” said Dr. Anita Davis, associate professor of music education and founder of the consortium.
Davis recently led a kickoff meeting of the group on the Hattiesburg campus that included a conference call with one of their partners, a middle school in Milan, Italy.
Educators representing the Hattiesburg Public School District, the Pascagoula School District and an Annapolis, Md. school were also on hand to exchange ideas and discuss a proposed curriculum project reflecting the philosophy of the group’s mission.
A consultant and program evaluator are assessing the group’s early efforts to create a proposal for new curriculum projects, which will be supported with research by faculty from multiple disciplines at Southern Miss and at other partner institutions and agencies.
David Reider of Education Design in Boston and John Ceschini, executive director of the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, joined the group last week to offer suggestions and ideas to help in the development of the group’s project.
Both Reider and Ceschini said that 21st century learning has three elements that are critical for success, including creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration. It should also be an approach to learning where disciplines not only co-exist, but support each other and give value to all content areas, while also having an intercultural dimension.
To date, about a dozen states have adopted 21st century learning models for middle school curriculum, they said.
Sybil Wilner, a language arts teacher at Trent Lott Middle School in Pascagoula, said the effort is appealing because of the opportunity to develop new approaches to learning that more fully prepare her students to meet the challenges of the future.
“I’m excited about working with other teachers in looking across curricula for new ideas and sharing projects that result in an approach to learning that is interactive and interdisciplinary to make my students competitive at the global level when they leave school,” she said.
The Center for Research in Creative Learning welcomes input from faculty, staff and students and participation from other schools and education-based agencies interested in learning more or adopting the 21st century model for learning. For more information, contact Davis at 601.266.6575; email
; or visit the Web site, www.usm.edu/crcl
Dr. Anita Davis
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.