Warren is at the table eating cherries with Mira, who is humming and carefully placing her cherry pits in the small striped bowl designated just for that.
Mia is holding the cockatiel reclining on the sofa, intently observing it's avian habits.
There are boys on the porch gathered around the new foosball table. There are kids on the trampoline.
It is cool today and quiet. A change from the hot, busy and bustling days earlier in the week. I am using this time to do some research, writing and catching up.
Three educational models prominently on my mind are Reggio schools of urban post-war Italy, Krishnamurti schools of southern India and The Appalachian Settlement School Movement of rural eastern Kentucky at the turn of the century.
I am drawn to these models because they realised and acted upon the socio-economic, cultural, spiritual and historical uniqueness of their specific communities, children and families. They recognized the limits, destructiveness and ineptitude of solely academic learning based on homogenizing individuals to serve obsolete purposes and institutional needs. They shaped new and creative social institutions to best serve and meet the needs of their communities and a changing world.
Specific to all as well is the spiritual recognition of the need for space to facilitate both an inward focus, paying attention to our internal hemisphere and emotional responses, in addition an outward focus, paying attention to our human impact on natural ecosytems around us.
In looking for good models to draw from, I am especially inspired by The Center for Learning, outside Bangalore, India. Friends of mine spent time working in their extended community and turned me on to their website. I have been inspired by the work they have done in creating a model reflecting the values we also hold closely to. From their website:
CFL is a community of students and adults interested in learning about ourselves and our relationship with the world. This learning involves not only academics and other life skills, but also a deeper exploration about our emotions and thought processes and the way we respond to the challenges of life.
Centre For Learning...is an attempt to explore the nature of learning and its relationship to the challenges we face today. We feel that living creatively and meaningfully demands from each of us a serious inner enquiry free from dogma and ideology. Without this, there looms the danger of losing ourselves in a world that values achievement and success above all else, unmindful of the damage to nature and community. Education has been reduced to preparing the young to compete in such a world...
As educators, we wish to meet the challenge of creating an environment where children and adults can inquire together in freedom, security and affection. Perhaps this can awaken a creativity in the individual, which will contribute greatly toward a spirit of responsibility and regeneration in society. The curriculum also aims to help students discover their interests and nurture rigorous skills in academic and non-academic areas.