Autumn 2018 adventures

January 2019

As a new year is beginning, here is a summary of the first months of the project in 2018 through my posts on social medias from France, England and Ireland.

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School meeting in a secondary and high school in Brussels. Real democracy !

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In French public schools, the curriculum states that children should count up to 30 by the end of kindergarden. In this Montessori class, no one is surprised that this 5-year-old boy is decomposing numbers up to 10.000…

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Rachel : “Are you being careful?”
6-year-old : “Yes.”
Rachel : “OK.”

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In this small school in Brittany, no SAT tests and no collective exercise. But it’s okay: a mum just brought pumpkins from her garden and Halloween workshops are on the program like “decorating pumpkins” and “pumpkin and chestnut cake baking”.

Sans titre 7Just arrived to Bealings school on the East coast of England! This is the school front door and I’m not even kidding.

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In Bealings, the first rule to organize space is: “It shouldn’t look like a classroom.”

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Today I was able to visit a legendary school: Summerhill. I saw children and teenagers who can choose every day if they want to go to class or not and whose maturity and critical thinking is incredible !

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Hitchhiking is something that seems to scare most British people. I thought it was important to add this precision…

 

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This is the playground of the small democratic school in Stroud. In this school the rule is quite simple: everyone is free to choose what they want to do all day. 

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At 10am, other pupils are usually finishing their daily exercises. In Place to grow, you take time to think about what you want to do today.

 

Autumn afternoon in Place to grow.

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Today’s activities: zero waste Christmas tree constructing, gym and climbing.

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Usual way to start the day in Place to grow.

 

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I’ve officially achieved 3000 kiometers hitchhiking!

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Observation in a Waldorf kindergarden in London this morning. I am politely told to sit down in a corner and not move. I am not supposed to interact with the children in any ways and I must not look like I am observing them (!). I am then asked to put away my notebook as my writing is disturbing for the children (who are obviously curious as they don’t know who I am and in spite of all my efforts I am not invisible). Is the welcoming representative of the pedagogy ? We will see…

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Did I mention that this Waldorf kindergarden is in a small chapel of London in the middle of a big cimetery?

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Today’s visit: Rudolf Steiner House in London. Steiner’s philosophy is not only about education but also about spirituality: the schools aim at training future adults who will be open to the spiritual world and to occult believes. I talk to a lecturer who tells me ‘One day you will meet the spiritual world, I am absolutely sure about it’. I smile politely and walk out the door. Nothing could have convinced me more that it will never happen…

Conclusion of the day: I will not send my children to a Waldorf school.

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Silent room for meditation. In the Krishnamurti school (Indian philosopher), the curriculum is based on the idea that each pupil must learn how to be free.

Krishnamurti : “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

 

Sans titre 25Arrived in Galway, Ireland, hitching a taxi. It’s funny because I have never taken so many taxis than I have since I started hitchhiking…

 

Sans titre 15Sans titre 26Ireland, Connemara.

Sans titre 27Sans titre 14Democratic school, Wicklow Sudbury School, music room and art room where everyone is free to use the material.

Freedom is not for free: minimum 200 euros per month, and the facilitators (teachers) get paid half of the minimum wage. In this place, education is not a job but a political act.

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Sans titre 17Hitching on the West Coast of Ireland. A girl stops and asks me if I’d like her to show me around. Yes I would! Here we go on an improvised walk in the cliffs.

Today’s experience: a new way to find accommodation. A girl invited me to her house (with her 7 flatmates) after 20 minutes. People are actually kind when you turn off your TV!

 

Sans titre 28Bushcraft workshop in the garden of Wicklow Sudbury School where children of all ages (from 5 to 18) live together.

Marc, facilitator (teacher) :” If children are not in contact with nature, how are they going to learn how to protect it? ”

 

Hitchhiking in Ireland.

Sans titre 29It is impossible to explain the diversity of the learning that takes place in a democratic school each day. Children, teenagers and adults are treated and considered equally. The simplicity and the authenticity of this community is fascinating.

 

 

… AND A LOT MORE ADVENTURES TO COME.

I am about to hit the road again to Spain and Southern Europe.

Happy new year to everyone! 

Lola

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