Published Jun 2 2009 by Nature Bats Last
Archived Jun 2 2009

A K-5 Curriculum for Students in the Post-Carbon Era

by Sarah Rios and Jaime Campos

From the authors:

Will education be important in the post-carbon era?
What will need to be taught?
What skills need to be acquired?
We hope to provide one alternative for educating students, after the fall of empire.

From the Introduction

...Though we base our curriculum off previously established standards, we organized this curriculum based on the ideas set forth by Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences. Subject areas such as math, reading, writing, music, physical education, and science had preexisting standards that we adapted to fit the ideals of a post-carbon era. These existing standards correlated well to Gardner’s multiple intelligences of mathematical/logical, linguistic, musical, and bodily-kinesthetic. Others, such as interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and visual/spatial had no preexisting standards that could be adapted and thus were created from scratch to suit the needs we felt important for that intelligence.

Based on the authors' statement here, I have pulled out the curriculum for those chapters as I thought they would be the most informative for an EB audience. See below. KS

Gardner stated that these essential differences "challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logicalquantitative modes as well." Gardner further argues that "a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means."

Howard Gardner’s ideas of intelligences emerged from cognitive research and "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways," according to Gardner2. According to this theory, "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the socalled profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains."

For our purposes each learning style is mentioned in detail prior to each section, but a short description of them follows:

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence deals with the physical experience
  • Interpersonal Intelligence deals with the social experience
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence deals with empathy and reflection of self
  • Linguistic Intelligence deals with the use of words and language
  • Mathematical/Logical Intelligence deals with numbers and logic
  • Musical Intelligence deals with music
  • Naturalist Intelligence which deals with an experience in the natural world
  • Spatial Intelligence which deals with the manipulation of objects in space

Interpersonal Intelligence

Howard Gardner included the idea of an interpersonal intelligence into his theories in order to include those students who have the knack for understanding others and interacting with them. It was his thought that there are people who are skilled at assessing emotions, desires, intentions, and motivations of others that around them. Often a person with strong interpersonal skills is able to communicate verbally effectively, analyze situations from different perspectives, create relationships with others that are positive, and be able to resolve conflicts among a group of people. In a post carbon era, these skills would be essential in maintaining a level of empathy to others in order to promote a good life in difficult times. In addition, team work and the skills associated to a good team will be main factors in ensuring proper function of a community. What follows are categories we feel will be important in educating children in regards to the interpersonal intelligence.

Team Work: These skills will attempt to teach students to work together with others as one unit towards a goal.

Empathy: The ability to feel compassion to those around them and, as an extension, to realize and connect the emotions others are feeling to a situation in that person’s life.

Building Relationships: The ability to recognize the importance of having others in ones lives and working towards building and maintaining these relationships.


Team Work:
1. Knows what a team is
2. Understands that the basic set up of a team is several people working together
3. Is able to identify the leader of a team

1. Identify healthy ways to handle feelings.
2. Is able to identify the basic emotions others may have (for example, “mom is happy”).

Building Relationships:
1. Recognize adults in familiar environments.
2. Cooperate in games with familiar adults.
3. Seek attention of familiar adults.
4. Recognize members of immediate family.
5. Communicate with members of immediate family.
6. Name members of immediate family
7. Show awareness of family roles (for example, parents, siblings, extended family).


Team Work:
1. Can take on the role of leader and follower
2. Can set goals or incorporate ideas when making a goal for the group
3. Is able to identify progress in a group project or goal

1. Once a family members feeling is identified can recognize what results in the opposite feeling (for example, if mom is sad and hugs make her happy, give her a hug).
2. Is able to be sensitive to others feelings

Building Relationships:
1. Use cooperative play responses with peers.
2. Play alone contentedly, but like to be near adults.
3. Initiate own play activities.
4. Differentiate among types of relationships (for example, friends, family, classmates, community members).


Team Work:
1. Identify various ways to resolve conflict using positive behavior.
2. Knows how to voice a disapproval with a leaders idea in such a way that will not result in conflict.

1. Interact appropriately with peers and other children (for example, helps others, shows concern, is friendly, shares with others).

Building Relationships:
1. Initiate and continue interaction play or activities with peers.
2. Wait for interaction with adults or peers.
3. Wait for turn to play with adult present.
4. Wait with peers without adult present.
5. Interact appropriately with various familiar adults (for example, tells the adult about a new discovery, responds appropriately to greeting from another adult).


Team Work:
1. Initiate positive actions to resolve conflict (for example, identifies the conflict, deals with feelings).
2. Use words and brief discussions to resolve conflicts (for example, gives friends choices, uses words to express feelings).

1. Use appropriate behaviors and words to deal with anger (for example, stops and thinks, leaves the immediate location, gets assistance).

Building Relationships:
1. Enter into appropriate activities with unfamiliar peers or adults.
2. Identify the skills needed to be a responsible friend and family member (for example, doing chores and helping others).
3. Demonstrate various ways of communicating care and consideration of others (for example, sharing and saying “please” and “thank you”).
4. Conduct self during interactions in ways that are appropriate for the relationship (for example, does not hug strangers, listens attentively to a instructor).
5. Use actions of others as social cues (for example, waits to start eating until all have been served, lets others go first when waiting in line).


Team Work:
1. Interact acceptably with others within the course of social, occupational, and community living.
2. Use discussion and compromise to resolve conflicts (for example, pros and cons of plan to resolve problem, cause of conflict, and different points of view).

1. Knows when it is appropriate to be solemn (for example, during a death or funeral).

Building Relationships:
1. Initiate interactions with family, friends, peers, and adults (for example, says “Hello,” introduces self, asks another’s name, explains hobbies and interests).
2. Use appropriate techniques to invite someone to join a group (for example, asks if person wants to play).
3. Identify the importance of demonstrating consideration of others in physical activity settings.
4. Use appropriate language to conduct social interactions including greetings, apologies, and introductions.


Team Work:
1. Use appropriate interpersonal communication skills when working in a group (for example, checks for understanding, expresses opinions, takes turns, accepts criticisms, gives feedback).
2. Seek help and use suggestions when unable to resolve conflicts (for example, when afraid, when angry, when peer won’t cooperate, when adult help is needed).

1. Identify what makes a positive relationship with another person (for example, being friendly, making each other laugh, complimenting each other).
2. Identify what makes a harmful relationship with another person (for example, physically hurting the other, not sharing with others, arguing with each other).

Building Relationships:
1. Use behaviors that represent active listening (for example, looks at person while speaking, responds to questions, is attentive while another is speaking).
2. Use appropriate nonverbal communications to relay messages to others (for example, body language, winking, waving).
3. Respond appropriately to humor (for example, laughs at jokes, tells jokes, avoids humor that hurts others).

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Howard Gardner defined the Intrapersonal Intelligence as “the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations”.

There are no established curriculums for this intelligence, and here we describe a basic outline of the essentials to help your student develop healthy methods of dealing with personal problems and learning to do self-evaluation and introspection.

Methods like yoga can be also used to teach introspection and a physical way of focusing the mind and the body. Looking for someone in your community who can teach yoga to you and your students would be an excellent activity for your child to learn how to focus their mind and body.

Meditation: Here students will learn to take time from their day to sit in a quiet peaceful place that is most comfortable to the child and sit in silence and learn to reflect on their thoughts and feelings. In doing so, students will be able to understand what is truly important in their lives and look past the situations that make them upset or sad.

Journal Writing: Here students will develop their writing skills and discover means of expressing themselves and documenting their feelings. These entries may begin as pictures and later progress to written entries. This encourages students to write down their thoughts in order to provoke selfreflection and institute a place where they can confide their feelings without risk of punishment.

Observation: Here students will learn to observe different situations and draw conclusions about their place in the family, community and world.


1. Introduce learning how to sit still while listening to calming music or even sitting in silence for a prescribed length of time. Making this exercise a weekly occurrence.
2. Having the student chose a calm and comforting place to have the weekly meditation sessions (can be outdoors or indoors).
3. Allowing the child to identify their favorite place
4. Encouraging the child to go to their favorite place when they are sad, angry, or want time to themselves

Journal Writing:
1. Have student create his or her own journal out of items they find around them (for example, rocks, sticks, etc).
2. Have them draw or write in their journal to express their feelings about what makes them happy, sad, irritated, hopeful, etc.

1. Ask your student to define who they think they are in terms of their family and community.
These can be discussed verbally with an adult.
2. Students can express their answers and observations through drawings, songs, dance or whatever form is appropriate.


1. Continue to encourage meditation and begin to increase it to 2-3 times a week.

Journal Writing:
1. Students should begin to use a combination of drawings and sentences to express their feeling.
2. Students should be encouraged to begin writing short narratives or stories to describe their daily lives.

1. Continue to have the students think about their place in the community
2. Have them describe what they feel are their roles and responsibilities within their families and communities


1. Continue to encourage meditation and begin to increase it to 3-4 times a week.
2. If the student becomes accustomed to the meditation the student can be encouraged to incorporate it as part of their daily routine

Journal Writing:
1. Students should be writing journal entries on a daily basis
2. Students should continue to write short narratives or stories to describe their daily lives.

1. Continue to have the students think about their place in the community
2. Have them describe what they feel are their roles and responsibilities within their families and communities

Naturalist Intelligence

Howard Gardner found later that he needed to add an additional intelligence to his original seven to encompass students who have a connection with nature. This is known as the naturalist intelligence and it enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment.

This intelligence will be especially important during the post-carbon era.

Though there is not an established curriculum for this intelligence as exists for the others, we hope to create a basic outline for a naturalist education. Most of what we will write about will be based on our experiences in a post-carbon community in New Mexico. During our visit, there were children of all ages who participated in a class unlike any other. We commuted to the class by crossing a river and hiking to an area where we foraged for food and learned how to use native plants for food and medicinal purposes.

The plants and materials used for this area will vary widely based on the location where one lives.

Ultimately it would necessary to find someone with these skills who can educate the parent or teacher and then pass that information onto the students.

Not all survival skills are covered in this curriculum. For more information please see the list of attached resources.

The subject areas we feel are important for students involve:

Foraging behaviors: In this area students will learn to identify plants, their edibility, how to cook them, and their medicinal properties.

Natural Construction: Here students will learn to use natural materials to construct things such as mats, baskets, and ropes.

Travel: Students will know necessary skills in order to travel the lands without getting lost. This includes knowing the cardinal directions, how to identify them based on the sun, and seasons. This can also include knowing certain constellations.

Gardening: In addition to knowing how to harvest wild growing plant, it will be essential to have the skills to maintain a family garden.

Water Harvesting: Water is a necessity for all life and will be of particular importance in a post-carbon era. Here students will be able to locate water, use rainwater for irrigation and drinking water, storage of water, and conservation of water


Foraging Skills:
1. Identify plants based on how they look
2. Identify whether plants are edible

Natural Construction:
1. Collect and dry plants that are used for mat making
2. Identify plants that can be used for various constructions

1. Learn the cardinal directions
a. North, South, East, and West
2. Know landmarks in their community
a. Mountains, peaks, certain trees, etc.

1. Know the proper conditions needed for a seed to sprout
a. Have students plant their own seeds with different variations in soil content, sun light, and watering to learn the ideal conditions.
2. Learn how to handle and use basic gardening tools
a. How to use a shovel
b. How to use a hoe
c. How to use hand tools

Water Harvesting:
1. Know how water acts based on certain barriers
a. Have students pour water down a slope and identify how it acts when sticks, dirt barriers are in the way.
b. Understand the importance of using basins in planting.


Foraging Skills:
1. Identify plants that are ready to be picked
2. Identify the seasons of when a particular wild plant/fruit can be harvested

Natural Construction:
1. Identify plants that have potential to be used for ropes.
2. Proper wood and materials used to make a fire.

1. Have students lead you on a walk between locations
a. Here it might be important for you to lead them somewhere and have them return back home.

1. Identify the types of crops that can be grown in their garden during the different seasons.
a. Having lists containing dates and the type of crops that can be grown in that season

Water Harvesting
1. Create planting beds that use the idea of water harvesting.
2. Learn about the different types of storage for water
a. Storage for daily use
b. Storage for long term use


Foraging Behaviors
1. How to properly cook plants once picked
2. How to preserve plants for the short term if they are not used.

Natural Construction
1. How to properly build a fire
a. Learn the rules of safety when dealing with fire

1. How to find a location based on a map
2. Complete tasks in an obstacle course

1. How to compost
2. How to place plants in a garden (shade/sun) based on ideal growing patterns
a. Here they can go back to planting seeds and trying them under different lighting conditions but this time encompass the ideas of heat and cool.

Water Harvesting
1. Understand the difference between well water and rain water.
2. How the roof of a house can be used to harvest water
a. The idea of gutters and rain harvesting tanks


Foraging behaviors
1. How to properly use medicinal plants
a. Have students help prepare them
2. How to preserve plants for the long term

Natural Construction
1. How to use natural objects as alternatives to modern technologies (i.e. gourds as water jugs)

1. Students will be able to work with other children or animals and work with them to arrive to a destination.

1. Learn about pollination.
a. Which ones are self-pollinators
b. Which need insects for pollination
2. Learn the importance of mulching
a. How this is important for water conservations
3. Learn about crop rotation

Water Harvesting
1. Learn how to purify water
a. By boiling
b. Filtration (i.e. through cloth, a filter, or a sand column)
2. Learn about waterborne illnesses.


Foraging Behaviors
1. Prepare food that has been foraged for a meal
a. A good time to teach how to cook with seasonings

Natural Construction
1. Build fences using natural materials to keep away pests.

1. Survival skills in case they get lost during a hike or travel.

1. Fertilize a garden using compost and other natural materials
2. Build their own gardens

Water Harvesting
1. Continue education about waterborne illnesses


Foraging Behaviors
1. Same as above

Natural Construction
1. Construct tools to hunt with
a. Students could learn to construct and use bow and arrow, stones knives, traps, snares, etc.
2. Build a shelter

1. Improve upon survival skills.

1. Learn about integrated ways of living
a. Water harvested from the roof is used for irrigation and drinking water. Food grown in the garden provides nourishment, while the raw scraps are used to
feed the compost pile to make nutrient rich soil for the garden.
b. Have students identify other aspects of their life or things on their property that are integrated.

Water Harvesting
1. Improve upon past education.

Additional References:
For more information about survival skills and a list of websites and references
For more information about primitive technology

Spatial Intelligence

This intelligence is the ability to think in pictures and visualize outcomes. This skill should not be thought of only in visual terms because Gardner believes that blind children develop spatial intelligence.

Manipulation of Objects: Students will learn to identify how objects fit into a puzzle and how to recognize patterns in sets of objects.

Spatial Awareness: Students will be able to maneuver through their surroundings in novel situations. These situations can include doing it blindly, backwards, without hearing, etc. Often experiencing something that is so familiar to them in new conditions will enhance their awareness of their surroundings.

Visualizing Outcomes: Students will be presented with a variety of scenarios and asked to plan out ways of arriving to the expected outcome, in addition to ways of executing the plan. These can vary greatly and will vary region to region, but some examples may include ways to purify water with a limited number of tools or how to manipulate objects in space.


Manipulation of Objects:
1. Presenting students with puzzles that are less than ten pieces (easily created with paper and pencil).
2. Organizing objects into groups based on shape, color, texture, etc.
3. Placing objects of certain shapes into slots of the same shape (this could be created with a variety of circles, squares, etc with a box built with slots cut out of it).

Spatial Awareness:
1. Blindfolding students and placing them into a room asking them to follow voice cues to a given destination.
2. If two children are present, one student could be blindfolded and the other be the leader having them arrive to a different location making sure that the leaders gives warning of impending obstacles (a step here, turning a little here, etc).

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Locating objects to prepare a shelter.
a. Locate objects.
b. Draw a plan
c. Explain reasoning
d. Build shelter


Manipulation of Objects:
1. Presenting students with puzzles that are less than twenty pieces (easily created with paper andpencil).
2. Placing objects into patterns and recognizing those patterns verbally and through written communication

Spatial Awareness:
1. Students will learn how to maneuver in the dark without the use of hearing (use earplugs or some type of device that blocks the child’s hearing).
2. Have the child be blind folded and try to maneuver through a space while receiving commands from another child or adult from across the room

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Present student with a simple medical situation i.e. your friend has a cough or has a fever. Have the student make a plan to alleviate the symptoms, i.e. herbs that could be used, teas, ect.
2. Give students a set of materials that could be used to make a fishing rod and have them try toassemble a working sample.


Manipulation of Objects:
1. Develop their own ten-piece puzzle and describe different ways to make the manipulation of it more difficult (add more color, more drawings, more connections, etc).
2. Organize objects based on weight, height, and ability to use them for construction (such as sticks, bricks, etc).

Spatial Awareness:
1. Have students extend their “blind” and “deaf” exploration outside of the home into the surrounding areas.
2. Present obstacles in a known room to increase the difficulty of maneuvering through it (ensure not to put the child in danger).

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Have students brainstorm, plan, and build ways of purifying water.
2. Present students with different objects (wood, matches, can, water) and ask them to construct a way to purify water.


Manipulation of Objects:

1. Present the students with a finished product like a birdhouse and have them take note of its characteristics. Proceed to dismantle the sample and have the students rebuild it using only their memory of how it looked previously

Spatial Awareness:
1. Have students go on a hike in your surrounding area during the day
2. Have students go on the same hike during the night
3. Have the students comment/compare on what senses they used complete the night and day hike

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Give students a set of objects that can be used to build a fire and ask them what type of structure and plan they would need to create a “safe” fire


Manipulation of Objects:
1. Have students construct a product given a blue print.
a. Plan
b. Build
c. Test the functionality
2. Using the finished product, have the student deconstruct it, and show someone else how to build it without the plans on hand.

Spatial Awareness:
1. Have students lead a hike through the area(s) around them teaching anyone who follows landmarks that will help them find their way.
2. Teach them to write directions to a set location based on past knowledge, present it to the instructor and test to see if the plans were accurate.

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Have students plan and prepare a meal given the basics for the purification of water and fire construction. Ensure that the food staples are simple enough to make.
2. Allow students to plan and construct a shelter that can withstand certain forces of nature (leakproof roof, withstand wind, etc).


Manipulation of Objects:
1. Have students observe different simple structures like a roof, shed, green house, and determine what types of materials are needed to create that structure
2. Have the students build on their previous knowledge of how to design a ‘blue’ print to make a representative plan

Spatial Awareness:
1. Present student with maps and the general purpose they serve
2. Provide the necessary supplies to make a map of their home, and surrounding land or community.

Visualizing Outcomes:
1. Have students analyze a problem on their property or in their community (i.e. integration of systems, water harvesting strategies, pest control)
a. Have the student communicate in writing and diagrams how they plan to solve this problem
i. Identify problem
ii. Strategized options
iii. Write and draw plan
iv. Write out intended solutions and possible outcomes
v. If possible implement the plan
vi. Take observations after plan had been implemented to determine if the “solutions” solved or created more problems

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can download the entire pdf here.

I find this a very timely and informative resource and look forward to exploring it further. I do take issue with the authors' stance in their Introduction around the level of education that will be required in a post-peak oil future, in that it implies that a liberal education might be an impractical luxury in a time of powerdown and constrained resources.

"...For most people, there won’t be a need for calculus or organic chemistry, instead basic long division and simple science will suffice. Schooling will involve a movement away from technology and will include only the essentials."

I think that there will always be room for Wendell Berrys and Thomas Jeffersons!

Original article available here