My name is Cassie Janisch. I am a mother of three children aged 10, 9 and 6. I have a Masters Degree in Economics and used to work as a Business Strategy Consultant – first for an international Management Consulting firm, and then as a freelance consultant doing research predominantly in the environmental, education and social development fields. During this time I was also involved in the development of a successful boutique hotel in Johannesburg with my ex-partner. This project proved to me that I was capable of turning an idea into a physical reality and has inspired me in the creation and evolution of my school.
Since 2008 my family has lived on a small farm in the Dargle Valley in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands (South Africa) which my husband and I bought together with my sister and parents so that our children could grow up closer to nature. We are trying to become self-sufficient farmers and learning a lot in the process. In addition to small-scale farming, my husband makes furniture and I run Misty Meadows School on our farm.
How I came to build a school?
I have always known that I wanted my children to be educated differently from how I was educated. Despite being someone who loves to learn, and despite going to very “good” schools, I was almost completely un-stimulated by my schooling, and felt lost and confused through most of it. I spent my 20s and most of my 30s unlearning how and what I had been taught to think at school and university and trying to figure out “the meaning” of (my) life.
As a result of my own school experience, I did not want to send our children to school and hope for the best. When I explored the very traditional schools in our nearby towns I felt that they were educating in almost the identical manner to how I was taught, and with broadly similar results. I believe that, at its best, education should evolve and encourage a flourishing society, and not just sustain the (deeply flawed) status quo. I wanted my children to love to learn and to be allowed to learn in a way that makes sense to them. I wanted them to be educated in a way that makes them feel loved and understood. I wanted them to grow up close to nature and to understanding how nature works. I wanted them to learn to take personal responsibility for their own lives and to treat others how they wish to be treated themselves. I wanted them to grow up thinking unlimitedly and without judgement or intimidation. I wanted my children to be active creators in their learning process, not passive acceptors of someone else’s process.
I gave homeschooling a lot of consideration, but realised that I did not want my children to grow up and learn isolated from the rest of society – I wanted them to grow up and learn in a community of supportive, creative-minded people and I realized that if that was what I wanted, then I needed to create it. So, rather than sending them to an existing school and hoping for the best, or keeping them at home and hoping for the best, I decided that I would create a school for them.
About this blog
Deciding to start a school started me on a journey exploring the world of education. Over the last several years I have discovered so much about both the good and bad in education, and realised so much about how we might do education better. Until I started this website all of this knowledge, research and thinking has mainly been sitting in my brain gathering dust and infuriating me that I did not know how to share it. This section of this website is where I will share my discoveries and insights about education with you… your comments are welcome.