Aberfeldie Primary School has pioneered some hands-on new programs in collaboration with a local gallery and nearby schools.
Principal Brett Millott first learned of the Adventure Learning and Interaction with Art programs on a trip to Cumbria, UK with collaborator Paul Duggan, principal of Belle Vue Park Primary School, as part of a study grant in 2010.
“When we came back here, at my current school, we’ve had a chance to trial it last year,” Millott says.
Hiking, setting up tents and cooking their own food are all part of Adventure Learning. “The teachers were present … for safety reasons, but really, it’s about the initiative aspect, where kids have to work things out,” Millott explains.
Both he and Duggan have been working on the SOLE (Selforganised Learning Environment) program, first developed by UK pedagogue Dr Sugata Mitra.
“That concept of self-organising, self-regulating, and that kind of gradual release of responsibility is part of what SOLE is, and Adventure Learning supports that strategy,” Duggan says.
“Brett and I have been collaborating for six or seven years on SOLE and part of our philosophy was to expand on what the definition of a classroom is,” he continues.
This philosophy also takes place in the Interaction with Art program, aided by one of the curators at the nearby Incinerator Gallery, which involves viewing works by professional artists, pondering such questions as ‘What is art?’ and having a go at creating their own works as a group activity.
There is a social aspect involved as well, Duggan says. “Part of what Brett and I have been trying to do is to expose kids from both our schools to each other, through the SOLE strategy, the arts, the outdoor ed and the coding, so that our kids can collaborate with kids from different cultures and different demographics.” Millott concurs.
“When kids are being creative, they come to the table, all working beside each other. And all of the things you think might stand in the way don’t, which is a very good thing.”