Was Daedalus really stricken with grief when Icarus fell into the sea? Or just disappointed by the design failure? -Alison Bechdel
As a K-5 art teacher the curriculum was a yearly construction and reconstruction, and always based fundamentally on what was interesting to me and what interested my students.
As a student in Professor Schubert’s education classes I was introduced to Ralph Tyler’s Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction which contained Tyler’s four basic curriculum questions:
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational learning experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
Tyler gave me a framework and unlimited possibilities.
One year, a few decades ago, one of my students came to class wanting to share D’ Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology with me.
Like many 4th graders who become obsessed with boats or horses or cars, this boy was obsessed with Greek mythology.
Perhaps it was because his family were immigrants from the Greek Island of Naxos.
Naxos is even mentioned in D’Aulaires’ book.
Theseus abandoned Ariadne on Naxos after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth.
This story, which takes many twists and turns, includes the one about Daedalus, the architect, and his son Icarus.
King Minos told Daedalus to design a labryinth as a prison for the Minotaur.
To keep the secret of the labrynth, Daedalus and Icarus are imprisoned. To escape, Daedalus designs wings of wood, wax and feathers and warns his son Icarus not to fly too close to the sun.
Icarus ignores his father’s warning, the wax melts and Icarus crashes into the Aegean Sea.
Over the years, Greek mythology and D’Aulaires’ book became more a part of my 4th grade curriculum. I was always thoughtful to use Ralph Tyler’s curriculum questions as my guide.
The story of Icarus and Daedalus got retold as a graphic novel, drawn by my students in panels with speech bubbles.
The battle between Theseus and the Minotaur became illustrations inside a Greek architectural pediment held up by columns the students chose to cap with either Ionic, Doric or Corinthian designs.
Several years in a row the students designed labyrinths like the one they thought Daedalus might have created in the basement of King Minos’ castle on Knossos.
The labyrinths were wildly complex and my role as the teacher was to be challenged to find my way out.
That was the way we chose to answer Tyler’s 4th curriculum question. No test. No grade. Could they stump me?
I am reminded of all this today because later this week we are headed for Greece.
Athens, Delphi and the island of Paros.
Paros lies just to the west of the island of Naxos.
I’ve never been.
Except in the art room.