― The opposite of compliance Is Creation. ―
There are so many different learning methods and even more different interpretations of those techniques. We try to use learning tools made from natural materials, wooden toys and magical set-ups as much as possible. However, does this mean that we are a Waldorf / Steiner school? Not at all. Our view regarding grades or certificates are also similar to those of Steiner and Montessori schools but again we do not follow the same program. We give the children the possibility to choose their daily activities, free of obligation and pressure. But does this mean that the grown-ups are only onlookers? This could not be further away from our free learning reality.
Tany's core team and participants offer the children multidisciplinary courses according to the curriculum 21. These courses are chosen democratically and according to the interests of the school community. The children can then sign up for the courses independently. By planning and sharing the responsibility, we strengthen their self-confidence and the various competencies of the curriculum 21 are continuously covered and practiced.
― Learning is not separate from living. A school program that doesn’t fit in a box can not be labeled or put down to just one theorist. ―
From the time a child is born it is 'free' learning and processing experiences at every moment. It learns to walk, speak and interact with the world through mind, body and soul. It does this all by itself through playing, observing, imitating, trying, failing and succeeding. In our school we let them continue this journey by setting no border between learn- and playtime and actually here they are one and the same. It is during their chosen play schedule that all the required school material is casually learned in their own individual speed.
― Play is the highest form of research. ―
Seth Godin, an American author, wrote in one of his many great articles - We were taught compliance from an early age. The opposite of compliance, we are told, is failure-. Our school encourages failure because we believe that the same ground where mistakes are made is the soil where growth and achievements blossom. Through our eyes our school navigates through new shores.
― You do not learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over. ―
― This is the power of gathering: It inspires us to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful.
In a word, more alive. ―
Children observe how others prepare food, meditate, take care of the garden, read books, write dairies, brush their teeth, clean their mess as well as many other every day activities. They also see how others process emotions and interact with the world. It is in our human nature to copy actions that align with our inner values or current emotional state.
― The bigger, more colourful and compassionate the learning community for a child the greater the chance to evolve and grow towards a happy and fulfilled adulthood. ―
With that in mind we envision a kind and loving community that honors diversity and respects the individual needs of each other. In Tany Fitiavana we are all equal no matter the label we carry, whether we are known as adults, as children or as animals. We always meet at eyelevel. The children are free to go after their chosen activity while respecting our core values and the basic principles of taking care of the environment. This principles encourages them for example to leave the used learning space clean and tidy for the next child to play or work with. Our different learning spaces are created by qualified adults in collaboration with the children. All of them have their ground rules that are explained to the children and we can also together change and adjust them. We are all important and take accountability for only leaving footprints behind.
― Take only memories, leave only foot prints. ―
The grown-ups are present to support tasks and help where needed in addition to maintaining a calm and safe atmosphere. Through the unique mixture of the community, the adults can create different courses and plan a variety of excursions and experiences for the children to choose from. Every grown-up can use their own knowledge, strength and acquired professional skills to create countless activity possibilities. We envision a place where Tany Fitiavana's children can participate in gardening, cooking, theater, pottery, sewing, music and many more classes made possible by the grown-ups, parents and community.
― It takes a whole village to raise a child. ―
― Schools that support this idea are communities where Article 12 of the UN convention on the rights of the child, which states that children have a right to have a say on matters which affect them, is fully realised. ―
Democratic learning communities are all special in their own uniqueness and admits all the diversity they often share many similarities. Amongst those are always the following elements:
From the listed elements we can deduce that democratic education means sharing responsibility. Like all the democratic schools, Tany Fitiavana encourages this aspect by organizing weekly school meetings. Meetings where all members of the community, regardless of age or society's given status, can equally express themselves about significant decisions. For example, regulations, excursions, projects, potential improvements, innovative ideas and even the hiring of staff amongst many other things. These gatherings can also be used to share and process conflicts in a safe and compassionate environment. Using this learning method also means learners choose what they learn, when they learn, how they learn and with whom they learn it. Being able to exercise this freedom means having to learn to be mindful with our actions so that we do not infringe on the liberty of others to experience the same peace. The key is that the learning is following the student’s intrinsic motivation and pursuing their interests. Through our eyes it is very important to maintain this principles beyond Tany Fitiavana. This means trying to fully trust your child's ability to know what it needs for this learning approach to be really successful. In this day and age this trust can be challenging but it is and will be very empowering for both the child and its family as well as strengthen the self-esteem.
― Respect breeds respect. Trust breeds trust. Compassion breeds compassion.
Tolerance breeds tolerance. Listening breeds listening. ―
The first democratic school that still exists is Summerhill in Suffolk, England which was founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill. He believed that a school should be made for the child rather than the other way around. Today there are many democratic schools all over the world spanning from Brazil, Europe to Israel and Thailand. Using different structures, they all promote the same idea that everyone has an equal say in what to learn and how to work with each other. The goal is to give children a deep sense of equality and justice.
― A democratic approach means that we support our fellow beings in a way that ensures they can think independently and use information, knowledge, and technology,
among other things, to draw their own conclusions. ―
― IF YOU WANT TO GO FAST, GO ALONE.
IF YOU WANT TO GO FAR, GO TOGETHER. ―