- About AAO
League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County Tennessee
Project Location: West Valley Middle School, Knoxville, Tennessee
Number of Participants: 100 teachers and 85 students
Age of Participants: 8th grade students
Team Members: League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County, Suzanne Wedekind, Eugene Burr, Michael E. Carberry, Ewing M. Johnson, Rosalind Martin
One of the most significant events in the history of planning is the adoption of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s Plan of Chicago in 1909, which became a prototype for many subsequent city plans. The plan was summarized in the textbook Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago, and was taught to eighth-graders. Consequently, at least a generation of Chicagoans understood and appreciated their role in fulfilling the plan. After the students became voting age, 86 bond issues were passed and contributed to the redevelopment of the central city. Many historians credit the use of Wacker's Manual with the successful implementation of the plan.
Inspired by the Chicago model, team members developed a teaching manual designed to engage future voters of the Knoxville area in the process of planning and shaping their community. Go To 2033 is the result of collaboration with Knoxville’s architects, planners and teachers who share a vision of inspiring students to be resourceful, respectful, and responsible citizens.
Are educational objectives clearly stated?
• Based on classic model of planning-related citizen education
• Guided by National Visual Art Standards
• Relates history of urban planning to design and planning principles applied in Paris, Chicago, and Washington
Does project under review increase children's understanding of architecture?
• Emphasizes relationship of quality architecture to success of high density housing
• Illuminates role of architects in preservation
• Encourages discussion of relationships among art, planning and architecture
Does it support their understanding of social, economic, and ecological sustainability?
• Form-based design and development is taught as a means to encourage diversity of residents
• New urbanism is emphasized as means of achieving sustainability and quality of life
• Development policies directly address ecological issues
Does it encourage sensitivity, creativity or critical thinking?
• Exploration of choices in the design process encourages creativity and develops critical thinking skills
• Encourages artistic and entrepreneurial creativity
Is it fun?
• Interaction with adult experts stimulates a desire to imitate, interact, and solve “real-world” problems
• Variety of “hands-on” activities fully engage students in active, experiential learning
• Student products and student-selected team names demonstrate pride and personalization of the group process; i.e. “Purdy Pets” or “Jake and Tyler’s Sports”
Does it have the support of the educational authorities or of the community?
• Knox County schools approved the use of the manual, an in-service training for 100+ art teachers and additional training for social studies teachers in 2011.
• The League of Women Voters supports this project as a civic endeavor that offers potential long-term benefit for the community.
Does it involve collaboration or interdisciplinary partnering?
• Initiated by architects as part of their educational outreach, the project involves professional planners, architects, teachers, and artists.
• The art museum serves as liaison between teachers and the AIA Chapter to recruit professionals to participate in class projects.
Can it be implemented on a continuing basis?
• Knox County school system supports expansion of the project and additional in-service training
Outcomes and Evaluation of the Project
The evaluation criteria for Go TO 2033 students appears in a rubric and contains the following categories:
1. Design concept
2. Design details (or how accurately the design reflects the General Plan of the Metropolitan Planning Commission)
5. Model accuracy
6. Neatness of renderings
7. Group participation
8. Energy and enthusiasm
The level of achievement in each of the categories is rated on a scale of 1 to 4 from lowest to highest. Students also complete a Self-Evaluation of Cooperative Learning where they have an opportunity to describe their overall group experience as well as their contribution to the group process.
Reinforcing new knowledge and skills is essential to the success of the program. A six-week course is the new norm for teaching this unit. Suggestions for improvement include:
• Increased focus on urban design curriculum.
• Additional photographs and teaching aids (such as an illustrated glossary)
Outcomes of the project include:
• Increased awareness of neighborhoods and how architectural design contributes to the well-being of the community
• Value of the student’s personal contribution to the design process
• Potential expansion of the project into adult education
• Potential expansion to other schools in the region, thus producing informed-citizen participation in government.
• Involvement of guest professionals who help students relate to contemporary issues in urban design.
The League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County is a champion for the Go To 2033 project.
Established in 1920, the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. The League seeks to influence public policy through education and advocacy. The goal of the League of Women Voters is to empower citizens to shape better communities worldwide.
The Go To 2033 project captured our imagination for the potential impact on future decision makers in Knox County and eventually citizens across the entire state of Tennessee. If Knox County students learn the concepts of community planning and design and participate in the process, like those students in Chicago in the early 1900s, we will have invested successfully in protecting the landscape and quality of life that is so highly valued by citizens in our county. Once adopted into regular use by the Knox County Schools, the League may consider recommending Go to 2033 as a model for citizen education and participation across the state through the Tennessee Department of Education.