Monday, June 7, 2010

Background Check

Why do I want to start a school anyway?

First and foremost, there one key person who played a major role in diverting my life onto this track (though thinking about it now, I know it was inevitable). So in some ways she was more like an turning point in the course of this river of my life's work that was always bound to end up in the ocean of education(al reform).

Lisa Sawyer McCartney took a chance on me and hired me to teach at her marvelous pre-school, Unicorn Village in April 2001. In hindsight it fees like I blinked and went from working in retail (to somewhere in between starting my Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education) to having a room full of two year olds, an assistant and I was their teacher.

- And from breath One I was in love -

Two and half years later I had my first baby and it's been a wild and interesting journey ever since.

I first became acquainted with alternative education through my research into the Montessori method and immediately had a dream to start a Montessori school. I also explored other methods such as Rudolph Steiner's Waldorf, A.S. Neil's Summerhill and, later, Brent Cameron's SelfDesign through a growing collection of books I was reading.

Between the Summerhill School where students had equal say in the day to day affairs of their school and their education, and Brent Cameron's well articulated book about his own experience creating a learner-directed school around his daughter, I was greatly intrigued by and ultimately sold on "self design" as a concept.

Of course! It's all about The Learner!!! It makes perfect sense to learn about what interests oneself rather than about facts and materials that are irrelevant, uninteresting and very soon forgotten!

And then last year, purely by "coincidence" I read a book the 'modern father' of the learner directed movement, John Holt and it was all over for me. His book, Learning All The Time cemented everything for me and I have not cast even a sideways glance at mainstream/traditional education since.

And yes, I could just give it to my own two children and they would have happy, unencumbered childhoods as we shared, laughed, journeyed and learned together. No tests, no artificial grading structures, no HOMEWORK, no life being governed by other people's directives on our lives. I could...

But I can't. I won't and I can't. And I can't and I won't.

Everyone who wants to choose this path deserves a shot. Everyone who wants this kind of living-as-learning/learning-as-living experience for their children needs to have access to it. Many parents simply cannot stay at home and do this. (I don't need to go into the whys; you can figure that out for yourself.) And so...

...The room darkens, the music begins to crescendo and the spotlight hits the stage...

Enter cian t. sawyer and her great big dreams of joyful learning and living for young people (also known as "Children").

And though the dream is big, the school will be a small (I believe) intentional community of families who are living and learning in happiness together.

What more can I say? It's me. I'm here - and I really think I might just be right for the part.

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