At Walden’s Path School, we have asked fundamental questions about teaching and learning; and about how conventional curriculum structures support teaching and learning. We have observed that students easily become passive and entirely depend on teachers and that only classroom time seems to count as work. These observations, combined with the intentions of the school to awaken a learning based on awareness, sensitivity and beyond the memorisation of ‘facts’, led us to explore and design different approaches to teaching and curriculum structure.
The intention is to include space for students to explore without the hindrance of subject boundaries and time limits that are prevalent in conventional structures, while still supporting depth and breadth in learning.
Enabling children to explore whatever they wish can be both exhilarating and frightening for students and parents. For some it gives a chance to explore what they have been seeking for a long time; for others, there is a great challenge as they are called on to identify things they would like to explore and to pursue them with vigour and excellence – without the false motivation of reward and punishment. Such challenges are part of the learning opportunity because they give a chance to explore with students what they really wish to engage with – something they have often not considered before because they have been told what they will be taught.
Raising such challenges is an intended part of the emerging curriculum designed at Walden’s Path, as this is one of the intentions of the school and a notable aspect of J Krishnamurti’s teachings. We believe that giving much greater focus on this was a priority for the school. It is much harder than just delivering a planned lesson where there are learning objectives and a defined quantity of knowledge that needs to be transmitted. It also requires working with the student who is before us, rather than having a generalised concept of a student.
We have taken only the first steps on what is likely to be a continuing path to develop a curriculum that can equip our children to meet and challenge the world we live in confidently.