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MISTY MEADOWS HIGH SCHOOL
- A LEARNING ECOSYSTEM TO ENABLE SELF-MASTERY FOR TEENAGERS

“Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able, of themselves, to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education” - Rudolf Steiner

This learning ecosystem for teenagers has been designed to enable teenagers to master themselves (Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want to achieve with my life? What are the skills I need to develop in order to do that?). Our focus at this school is to catalyse thinking and processes that support each teenager to answer these questions, as well as to develop the skills and capacities necessary to thrive as capable adults in the Twenty First Century.

This ecosystem is designed for children aged 12-17. When students reach the age of 17 they will be supported to obtain a school leaving certificate if this is their choice, or alternatively they will be mentored to choose what to do next in their lives, whether this is starting their own business, finding an apprenticeship, studying further, getting a job, or any other route they might choose as a next step after school.

HOW WE FUNCTION

Our high school ecosystem comprises of seven learning areas. Each of these areas is facilitated by a suitably qualified and highly experienced adult. Obviously there is some crossover between these learning areas – our aim is not to function in subject silos, but rather to give students access to different adults with different focus areas and expertise. We operate from a weekly timetable, but not all students are required to attend every lesson. Depending on what a student is interested in exploring at a particular time (some might want to develop their practical skills, some might be more interested in personal development, some might want to focus on their art, or any other area of interest) they are free to choose what they do at school.

 

Each child is expected to commit to participate in at least three learning areas each week. Our morning circle time is used to share positives, resolve grievances, as well as plan what each child is committing to do each day. Our adult mentors will support each child to stretch into the opportunities on offer. If a child shows a general lack of interest in all of the learning areas that we offer, that child will eventually be asked to leave our ecosystem. This is not a free school in the sense that children can come and game all day if they have no desire to participate in anything that we offer - it is freedom with responsibility - the responsibility being to commit to your own growth with self-discipline. Self-mastery requires getting out of your comfort zone. 

PILLAR ONE: LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, SOCIAL STUDIES (HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY), GENERAL KNOWLEDGE, PHILOSOPHY

This learning area draws from a wide range of texts, with broad focus on the above topics, which the class will consider and discuss. These sessions include reading aloud, written components as well as research, verbal presentations, discussions and debates. The purpose of these sessions is to expose students to a richer understanding of their world, as well as how to think and reason effectively, how to write and speak effectively, how to understand different points of view and philosophies, how subjects connect to each other, and how the world works from a social perspective.

PILLAR TWO: MATHS, SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY

This learning area focuses on mathematical and scientific concepts, application and experimentation, as well as creativity. We use the scientific method of inquiry to explore a wide range of topics. The purpose of these sessions is to support the students to understand the role of observation, numbers, formulae and experimentation in observing, measuring and understanding their world better. These sessions include both theory and practical observation, application and experimentation, as well as a lot of scientific play.

PILLAR THREE: PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

This learning area focuses on supporting students to know and understand themselves and their peers, families and community better. These sessions include focus on developing good social and emotional skills, conflict resolution, creative thinking, goal setting, self-management techniques, personality profiling, learning styles, career counselling, etcetera. Our motto is: KNOW HOW TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF.

PILLAR FOUR: PRACTICAL SKILLS

This learning area supports students in undertaking a wide range of practical projects and activities, including, but not limited to: cooking, gardening, woodwork, farming, sewing, building, building maintenance, mechanics, technology, crafting, driving, shooting, metalwork, etcetera. Part of this module includes project planning, scoping and implementation, project management skills and tools, practical problem solving, the use of online resources, entrepreneurship, etcetera. We access global best practice via You Tube and support students to undertake any practical projects they can envision. The facilitator of this pillar will support students to access the expertise and materials they require to undertake practical projects and mentor them through the challenges they encounter along the way. Our motto here is: FAIL OFTEN TO SUCCEED SOONER.

PILLAR FIVE: ARTS AND MUSIC

This learning area supports students in the development of their artistic or musical interests. We offer art and crafting lessons with a skilled facilitator and will endeavour to find appropriate art or music mentors for each child depending on their chosen focus.

PILLAR SIX: CONSCIOUSNESS EXPANSION

This learning area focuses on supporting students to expand their consciousness and self-awareness through the application of body and mind-expanding techniques like yoga, meditation, breathwork, qi gong, martial arts, practices to improve self-discipline, etcetera. Our annual certificate challenge will be included in this learning area - this is a challenge to get out of your comfort zone and achieve a series of tasks that combine physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements. A certificate is awarded for a successfully completed challenge.

PILLAR SEVEN: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND TIME IN NATURE

This learning area is about students being present in their physical bodies and spending time outside. Activities include gardening, hiking, time in nature and sport. The purpose of this learning area is to support students to develop their fitness, physical self-mastery, grounding and connection to nature.

SCHOOL LEAVING CERTIFICATE AND/OR POST SCHOOL OPPORTUNITIES

We are currently mentoring a group of 16+ year olds to obtain their GED Certificates. We are open to continuing to offer a mentoring programme through the GED for students who would like to obtain a school leaving certificate, however, this is not the primary aim of our high school ecosystem and will not be required by all students if they do not choose this for themselves, or commit to it fully. We are of the opinion that children who have participated in our ecosystem for four years will be in an excellent position to know what they choose next in their lives, and we will support and enable whatever that choice is in whatever way that we can. This could include further studies, apprenticeships, support in undertaking an entrepreneurial venture, or job-seeking of a more traditional nature.

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