Mutual benefit partnership: a curricular design for authenticity
The concept of authenticity is an under-theorized design principle at the centre of debates about the relationship of school activities to professional practices. We explore one approach to articulating the concept of authenticity through the design of a novel curricular structure, which we call 'mutual benefit partnership', developed in collaboration with a telecommunications company and four middle schools. The partnership created products of value to the corporate partner as well as to the teachers and students. But attempts to provide significant benefits to all parties of the partnership brought out conflicts in cultural values between school and corporate communities, resulting in both learning opportunities and risks to participants. Mutual benefit from students' work resulted more from ancillary (or secondary) products of their work than from primary products, suggesting the need to design curricular structures to achieve joint focus of school and corporate participants on the primary products of student work.