Learning At Its Best

.. Is where the MAGIC happens.

Given my interest in all things children, education and teaching, being lucky enough to have a tour of Miss Charlie’s classroom was like getting a private and personalized tour of Disney World – only better!

Her class, and the rest of the Junior School (Kindy, Year 1 & 2), share newly renovated and connected federation houses in one part of the campus. Here they have their own tennis courts, play grounds, rooftop gardens, a junior library and even a secret corridor connecting them to the main gym and swimming pools and on to the rest of the school. It’s rather impressive, even if I say so myself.

What really amazed me, and made me want to never leave (I’m not joking, I might have to apply for a teaching job there ASAP), was the open planned piazza that connects the junior school classrooms. This open space is where the magic happens. And I assure you, magic (and learning) really does happen in these special places:

  • Arabian Nights: a magic carpet furnished with plush beaded cushions and middle eastern style blankets. This is a place for imagination to prosper. Anything is possible when dreamed, imagined or conjured whilst on the magic carpet.
  • The Friendship Fairy Tree: a large stick tree with many off-shoots and spindly branches, a green carpet below and a photo of each student hanging from the branches. Friendship and freedom of speech is fostered in this area, especially conflict resolution. The rules being that the youngest student has the (carpet) first to express themselves and each must listen openly to the other. Kindness and love is the purest of heart.
  • The Young Inventors: a creativity corner filled with arts & crafts and DIY. Using an old projector, the walls display recent artwork, odd shapes and different colours over a cloth backdrop. Anything that can be thought, can be made in this workshop.
  • The Power of Words: a quiet enclave with cushions and small tables surrounded by walls of books. The space is open for quiet time, rest and relaxation, additional reading lessons and to get one-on-one help. No one is alone on their journey, although each person’s journey is unique.
  • The Nature Reserve: a sprawling garden of planter boxes and trellises growing herbs, flowers, vegetables. There’s a worm farm and a protected caterpillar area. Students take turns to tend the garden and have science lessons in the reserve. Preservation of resources, sustainability and action & consequence is taught here. Everyone is accountable.
  • Drama Panorama: a wide open space used for plays, student presentations of their self-written stories and to recreate scenarios. Posters on the wall show the components of a story, techniques to acting and literary devices. Freedom to be yourself.
  • Time Through The Hourglass: the History Center is a separate little room featuring real life-size dinosaur models, historical artefacts, history books, collections of old money and a slide show on repeat featuring a presentation of ‘how Australia came to be’. History shapes the future.
  • Leavin’ On A Jet Plane: the Travel Center is a little room decorated with flags of the world, maps of the continents and countries, info posters on America, England, China and New Zealand, a foreign money exchange and signs with different time zones and travel distances between Sydney, Australia and far away places. Multiculturalism and diversity of languages are well and thriving.

Like I said, magic really does happen in this place.

As a self-confessed Peter Pan, the facilities on offer to provide exceptional learning experiences simply blew me away. It was amazing, and I wished that I could have learnt like this when I was at school. Given all that is on offer, it’s no surprise that Miss Charlie is fortunate enough and lucky enough to be attending a very select private school. However, discounting the strict school uniform policy and a relatively structured school day, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking she was at a Steiner or Montessori school.

Whatever the label, it sure is special! From my observations and interactions at the school and with Miss (smarty-pants) Charlie herself, it’s no wonder she’s so switched on and is constantly challenging the limitations of current norms.

In my own opinion, this really is learning at its best and I’m inspired to continue these concepts in my own endeavours as a teacher.

– What are your thoughts?

– What special things are on offer at your children’s schools?

– Would anyone else like to join me on the Magic Carpet? Remember, ‘dreaming is believing’.

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3 responses to “Learning At Its Best

  1. Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    If you have been following my blog you will know that I have certain misgivings about traditional styles of education. That’s not to say that I don’t have certain misgivings about alternative styles of education as well, for I do. It was these collective misgivings that led me to home educate my daughter in her early years while attempting to establish an alternative school that met my expectations.

    In researching programs on offer in many traditional and alternative schooling environments, I read a lot of school descriptions, policy and philosophy statements. I usually find there is little to argue with in these statements, it is usually the way the beliefs are translated into practice with which I have difficulty.

    Occasionally I read something about a school that really excites me and I think “Wow, this school has really got it all together: philosophy and pedagogy. Children and their learning needs are at the centre of this organisation.”

    Recently I read a description that made me wish I was six years old again and enrolled to start my schooling there.

    According to the article it is
    “Learning at its best . . . where the MAGIC happens” and describes a “Disney World – only better”, where
    • Imagination can prosper
    • Friendship and freedom of speech is fostered
    • Conflict resolution skills are developed
    • Active and open listening is encouraged
    Among other things, it has:
    • a creativity corner
    • a nature reserve
    • a dramatic play area

    Why don’t I just let you read the article that fired my imagination, then you can let me know what you think . . .

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