Tuesday, February 23, 2010
a children's author with his own school
Are You Sure This is the Right School For You?
We encourage an active engagement with the world. That includes using public transport to explore Melbourne, playing in the school’s extensive gardens and 1100 acres of bush, riding bikes, climbing trees, going on many camps and trips.
Students will be using toasters, stoves, blenders, microwaves, cutlery.
According to our assessment of students’ maturity and abilities, we may teach them to use axes, log splitters and chainsaws.
Similarly, we may teach students how to light fires, and may expect them to start and maintain fires in fireplaces, and fuel stoves in classrooms.
We comfort students who are upset, we hug, we’re tactile. We may play rambunctious roughhousing games like British Bulldog, Animal Ball or spotlight.
During maintenance activities students may be up ladders, on roofs, changing light globes, using hammers, saws, mattocks, vacuum cleaners and electrical tools.
We are very happy for parents to be involved in the life of the school, in all kinds of rich, exciting and rewarding ways. We work on an `invitation-acceptance’ or an `offer-acceptance’ basis. In other words, we may invite parents to contribute to the school in some way, and they may accept our invitation; equally they may offer to help us in some way and we may accept their invitation. However we are not happy with parents who want to impose their own agendas on the school, and we don’t tolerate parents who attempt to bully the school, teachers, or other students.
Of course as teachers it is up to us to raise students to a level where they can engage in the activities mentioned above in a safe and mature way. That is what a teacher does. That’s what the word teacher means. “Aim not where they are, but where they should be.”
Renowned children's author, passionate educator and founder of Candlebark School John Marsden's words to prospective families on his school's website. If you are a regular reader of this blog I think you will agree it goes without saying that I LOVE the things that happen at this school, so I'll put that aside for one moment and concentrate on Marsden himself.
Marsden is clearly a man who tells it like it is, a refreshing trait when you are searching for the right school for your child. In this article in The Age Marsden tells parents to throw the school's prospectus in the bin, not to even bother listening to anything the principal tells you and to give the MySchool results a wide birth because they are "morally indefensible.
Never backward in coming forward, Marsden has always been outspoken about the education system in Australia. Phrases like "overbearing rules"; "rigid structure" and "cumbersome frameworks" come to mind. He is also a man who puts his money where his mouth is. After years of talking about what would make a good school, he decided to build one himself.
The result is Candlebark, set amongst 850 acres of beautiful Australian bushland and catering for kids aged between 5 - 14 years of age. If I were to start a school, it would look a lot like this one.
If you built your own school (or preschool) what would it be like?