"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." Dalai Lama

Synergy Schooling

by Robin Booth

FILED IN: Issue 4 · New Education

What does school have to do with now, today, this moment of life? A school with answers to this question has emerged in the rural setting of Noordhoek.

Many young people wonder why they are in school. To learn, of course, they are told. But why and to what end, they rightfully ask. To become productive members of society; education is your portal and path to opportunity, they are reminded.

But that isn’t the future they protest!

What does school have to do with now, today, this moment of life? For many young people the experience of school is an exercise in waiting for the present to matter. The justifications for their schoolwork seem related only to some invisible future. The present has little more than operational value; deeper meanings, understandings, contributions and satisfactions are not the goal here.

Childhood is little more than a holding pattern, a phase to pass through on the way to maturity. And children are not seen as capable of doing anything particularly useful, except ‘getting ready’ to do something useful. This disregard for the capacities of children and this dismissal of any value in the period of life we call childhood are all too common in our educational system.

No wonder young people question why they are in school.

The “schooling’” f our future will become an environment where teachers, parents and children co-construct a shared learning environment. A space where there is a shared sense of belonging and active participation, where the nurturing of self esteem and values of integrity, creativity and respect are valued as the core priorities of schooling and of living. Conflict is not seen as threatening but is seen as a driver of growth and dialogue, a process to further our understanding of ourselves and our world views. Relationships are seen as the underlying force of developing emotional, social and academic intelligences.

And such a school is has emerged in the rural setting of Noordhoek. Set on a large portion of land with a full sized sports field, farm animals and with horses as neighbours, Synergy Schooling is a new approach emerging out of the need for an educational vision that addresses the complex needs of human development in the 21st century.

Robin Booth, one of the founding members and school principal says “We seek to consciously develop the skills, knowledge and life wisdom that children need to foster their individual and collaborative talents, passions, dreams and potentials.
These children aim to achieve synergies throughout their lives through experiential learning and quality relationships. We have let go of the dogmatic and inflexible approach of traditional schooling. We have moved away from trying to ‘teach’ children,to the exciting paradigm of ‘supporting authentic learning’.”

They believe that the empowerment of people is developed and realised in relationships, between children, teachers, parents, and in communities.
The Synergy Approach also encourages the growth of core values and strong inner personalities, fundamental to the creation of meaningful, passionate, and productive lives.

The emergent curriculum and all their activities seem to draw fully on cognitive, emotional and symbolic experiences, seeking to ensure rich and meaningful learning for each child and the group.

Central to the curriculum is personal awareness and responsibility, emotional intelligence, the articulation of our identities, attitude and the development of learning skills. The general environment is to encourage students to learn directly from their experiences (academic and life) and to provide space and support for reflection and review.

Synergy Schooling is experiential learning based in quality relationships.
Synergy Schooling strives for authentic living and learning.
Synergy Schooling is about understanding who I am, who you are and who we are together.

For further information on the school and and to see concrete examples of why this approach is appealing to so many other school principals, teachers, parents and children, see their website on www.synergyschooling.co.za or phone Inga on (021) 785 5500 to make an appointment to see the school.


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