We are part of an intricate ecosystem called the Earth - an important knowing that we hold dear in all that we learn and be. In order for our children to develop a deep sense of belonging and feeling of embeddedness within our environment we embody an ecological paradigm of learning.
Now what does that mean?
All knowledge is intriniscally multi-disciplinary- it is exceptionally difficult to separate our world into subjects. As an alternative we practice project-based learning along a Cosmic curriculum. We are conscious of making our learning relatable to the children in their everyday lives (local) and then broadening the horizon to contemplate our situation in the global environment. This approach aids the children in understanding how interconnected life is and how their actions can have global effects.
Just as the curriculum cannot be divided, nor can the child. We practice an integrated academic, creative, spiritual, physical and social education. As our work is largely centred around practical everyday projects there is emotion attached to them. Learning is cooperative and collaborative across vertically grouped ages. This helps the child develop a relationship between themselves(individual) and: other people, nature, their inner sense, external world and their own emotions and reason.
An ecological education paradigm sees the teacher as a facilitator and the children as leaders in their own learning- communicating, organising and advocating for their education. This responsibility encourages the child to acknowledge their individuality and ability to construct their reality. They see possibility and are activated to enact change.
We are inspired by
"We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being"
- Maria Montessori
Montessori sees the child as infinitely capable and unique. She proposes the principle of Following the Child along their independent learning journey. The children are responsible for choosing their own work, growing in independence and actualisation. The adult in the environment is primarily and observer with the duty of crafting a prepared environment that facilitates the child's learning.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher...is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist'."
A Montessori education targets the child's senses as she believed that a concrete experience of knowledge is necessary before that knowledge can be abstracted. She developed many materials that give the child this concrete knowledge relationship.
"Within the child lies the fate of the future."
At the heart of the Montessori method is the unlocking of an individual's cosmic task, which is: our responsibility as human beings to participate in and contribute to the world.
The growing Forest School movement acknowledges the benefits of learning outdoors for both the individual and our environment.
Nature Deficit Disorder: The human cost of alienation from nature
There are growing concerns about a lack of physical exercise, poor mental well-being and issues of climate change and environmental degradation. Studies illustrate that green spaces and natural landscapes have a positive influence on children’s cognitive and psycho-social development, including emotional regulation, perceived self-worth, creativity, concentration, motivation and motor skills. Children that engage immersively with nature have better abilities to assess risks and confidence to confront challenges later in life.
Forest schools combat this concern with active exploration outdoors. All lessons organically grow through real time experiences rather than predetermined concepts in books or on screens.
These immersive, sensory experiences allow the children to develop a relationship with their environment. There is a transition from known facts to heart knowledge: from the concept of "I know" to "I care".