At Our Living School, children learn the intricacies of working within a community, value of environmental stewardship, and the power of their own mind.
The education at Our Living School is dynamic, with action and reflection at the center of all learning. Children learn by doing and becoming. They are emerging into their very being and developing a grasp of who they are as individuals. The curriculum, therefore, is naturally emergent. For example, if a child finds a chrysalis, then a study of the butterfly life-cycle is in order. Another real-life example of emergent curriculum is when a child at Our Living School asked how the moon “keeps getting bigger and smaller when it’s just a rock and it can’t keep breaking.” We then followed with a week-long focus of the phases of the moon. At Our Living School the teacher pays attention to the students’ curiosities, then place before them materials, questions, or excursions to satisfy the students’ inquiries and to compel them to dig deeper.
Just as one stick is easy to break, but a group of sticks is difficult to break, we at Our Living School believe that we are a stronger society if we remain a pluralistic society. As such, individual minds are cherished here. Therefore the curriculum at Our Living School is individualized. Math, science, and reading become necessary vehicles when students wish to pursue their interests. Students keep track of their daily and weekly learning agendas with clipboards as well as keep portfolios of their work. This allows for both reflection (essential for learning integration) and assessment.
Assessment is a joint effort between the teacher, the student, and the parents. Assessment comes in the form of portfolios, reflections, and conversations. By examining portfolios, students have a chance to reflect and discuss their learning. Twice a year, or as often as deemed necessary, the student, teacher, and the student’s parents will discuss the goals achieved by the student and the student’s future work. No grades are given at Our Living School due to their lack of comprehensive analysis of a student’s learning as well as their affective associations.
The overall educational approach at Our Living School is largely based on Vygotskian theory. A group out of Denver published a curriculum, Tools of the Mind: A Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education, and has since been cited as a very effective strategy in teaching young children. We implement many of these ideas. To learn more, click on the link below:
This is a math curriculum written by John Mighton, who struggled with math himself as a kid, but then discovered a new way of comprehending mathematics in his thirties. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in the subject and started a non-profit organization in Canada to teach math to all children. In his book, The Myth of Ability (2003), Mighton talks about his frustrations in school, his discoveries in math, and his convictions that all children, no matter their learning orientations, can learn math well. This is a highly effective curriculum and we at Our Living School have been delighted with it. To learn more, check out the following link: http://jumpmath1.org/about_us