Even though we are in the midst of our post-holiday dip, we are not about to let the January weather get us down! For one thing, it is exciting to see Phase I of our new addition taking shape, as the builders set the windows in place and seal the roof against the elements. It is easy to imagine how inviting our new space will be in only a few short months. And undeniable that the influence on student learning will not be trivial. Watch and see. It won’t be long before our “third teacher” reaches out and wraps our students and teachers in a long-awaited invisible embrace!
We know from research and reason that spaces that feel good are both engaging and vibrant; and that they foster a sense of pride and belonging in the children that learn there. Such spaces are important for inculcating the culture of a school community and reflecting the values that underlie the teaching and learning. Physical spaces that are carefully and respectfully designed help instil the attitudes, habits, and behaviours that promote respect and responsibility in learning. While it is true that many children around the world accomplish impressive feats of learning in truly humble settings, the most effective schools plan spaces that honour the need for kids and teachers to learn in an environment that “just plain feels good” – and smart!
Noted educational philosopher, John Dewey, long believed that school was “primarily a social institution” and that education, therefore, was “a process of living” and not merely a preparation for “future living”. In our evolving new building, the long congested hallways and inflexible spaces of aging portables (…to say nothing of the failing structural beams and floorboards in them!) will give way to the reality of a living and breathing “organism” that will become a vital form of community life. When school buildings become part of the life experience of the children they serve, talent is revealed and true educational aims are accomplished.
And speaking of talent. While we await our new classrooms, corridors, and creative spaces, we feel privileged to have been a part of the impressive and surprising ways that our students demonstrated their passion and learning this week. Our recent talent show featured the skills and gifts of many students and were shared in an enjoyable program of singing, dancing, tumbling, clapping, and trumpeting. It was a pleasure to set aside assembly time for children to showcase the abilities that are developing through deep personal practice, a high level of commitment, and the triumph of their personal enthusiasm.
When we visualize our beautiful new space for the coming year, let’s not forget to imagine that same space through the eyes of a child and consider the school day experience from their standpoint.
If we do this, we will see the vista points, timeless materials, and them – and it will be truly beautiful!
Ric Anderson, Head of School