Without teachers, how does learning take place? This is a favorite question of mine about the unique nature of The Village School. The answer allows a closer look into the independent learning that develops and is honed in spark studio and carries to the elementary years. As a hero grows and as the community matures the attitude shifts from I am capable to we are capable and succeed together. Independent learning does not take the form of total chaos and misdirected energy in the studio, but instead freedom within limits. Allowing a hero’s own curiosity to be the leading factor, shows a young person that we trust them to make choices and to be in charge of their own education. On a daily basis there are many teachers that a hero encounters.
The Prepared Environment: As soon as a hero enters the space they are greeted by a curated space just for them. The “prepared environment” is Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.In the prepared environment, there is a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. In the calm, ordered space of Spark Studio, heroes work on activities of their own choice at their own pace. They experience a blend of freedom and self-discipline in a place especially designed to meet their developmental needs.Gradually heroes reveal qualities such as intense concentration, a sense of order, effort, respect for others, kindness, and an obvious joy in meaningful work.
Peers: Our heroes benefit from a mixed age studio and learn from one another. This often comes from observation.One hero has spent months watching others practice reading drawers and is suddenly compelled to finish more than one in a days work cycle after watching and listening to her peers. It also happens through shared interests, heroes have conversations about underwater volcanoes and the tallest mountain ranges. They retain facts that are proudly shared with their friends and delight in sharing information with one another. These types of interactions are built into the structure of the studio. Informally, children learn from peers by asking questions while watching them work. Another way to learn from peers is through collaborative learning, most project time is spent working together in Spark Studio. Heroes navigate working as a team.
Launches: These 15 minute meetings, led by a guide serve three purposes: to inspire, equip and connect.They inspire heroes by connecting to a challenge, hero or world-class example. This may be a story or a short video clip that follows the curiosity of our young learners. They equip by offering a process, recipe, algorithm or framework that leads to better decisions and habits. Launches may highlight our goal setting process as well as methods for self- regulation and perseverance in the face of challenges.Launches connect by bringing the community closer together through discussions of shared experiences, empathy and similar goals.