OUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY
Our small and unique learning community sees so many changes from week to week, month to month and year to year. Below is a peek at what is currently happening at Island Oak. Click here to read more about our acacdemics.
We live in a very dynamic world and are seeing much more diversity confront us each day. There is increasing diversity in culture and sheer experience fueled by rapidly advancing technological development. Waldorf education was well-formed from its inception in 1919 to tackle diversity and bring youth to adulthood in a confident, healthy way. To adapt to this rapid pace of development, Island Oak High School will work from a set of five principles to help its students develop purpose and direction in life, no matter where their paths take them.
Island Oak High School will be working from a specific set of principles that will form the framework for its entire program. These principles will be guiding our entire program for the coming year and beyond. These principles are both Waldorf and universally human. They fulfill many Waldorf ideals and will allow us to fulfill the BC Ministry curriculum in a coherent and exciting way.
The five principles are:
ENCOUNTER. ENLIGHTEN. EVOLVE.
Encounter. Enlighten. Evolve. These words form a principle that is the central Waldorf method of teaching, particularly in the high school. This is a combination of approaches taken together sequentially that uses the methods of inquiry and knowledge used by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, namely, an empirical approach, an analytical approach, and an internalized, integrative approach. The main intention in the empirical approach is to develop excellent, unbiased, and objective observation skills. With the analytical and integrative approaches, neuroscience tells us that we have competing neural networks, one for analytical thinking and one for new ideas and moral conception (i). Activating these networks takes different approaches. This three step process is a solid framework for approaching a problem or project and taking it to its conclusion.
Journey. The idea of the journey as a principle is based on Joseph Campbell’s lifelong studies of world myths and the importance of the “Hero’s Journey” for all of us. In the Waldorf context, the study of the story of Parzival is central to the high school curriculum and represents the journey through adolescence. This is a lifelong theme that gets played out over and over again.
Progression. Although much is repeated in education, a progression must still happen, pushing the boundaries of learning and growth. The faculty will be working to bring progression into the entire curriculum throughout each year.
Dialectic. The principle of dialectics is about a conversation between two opposing viewpoints. This will be applied to our cultural situation in Canada and the Cowichan Valley. The culture and ideas behind Waldorf must converse with and find a true relationship with the reality of the place where we live. We will use a dialectic approach in teaching, but also in our existence in this place, particularly with the local First Nations Peoples.
Integration. The principle of integration is about how we will bring knowledge to our students. The separation between “subjects” is really only in our minds. Real world problems are integrated. Our teachers will be working directly to integrate the individual curricula to form a coherently whole experience for students when we can.
To be effective, these principles need to be carried out in some way. What practices will we be employing to bring these principles to life?
Foundation Courses. The school year will be divided into two semesters and courses scheduled to avoid long periods of the same subject area in a day. Each semester will begin with a Foundation Course that will bring organizational skills, life skills, writing and presenting skills, outdoor skills and leadership skills. Students will also be prepared for their trips through the Foundation Courses.
Trips. Trips will be progressive, taking on more requirements throughout the year and from year to year. The Fall Trip will happen after the Foundation Course and a sweat lodge ceremony. Juniors will be travelling the Juan de Fuca Trail, while Seniors will be travelling the West Coast Trail. The Winter Trip to Mount Washington will be two days of downhill fun. In May, the Spring Trip will be a water trip in canoes or kayaks, separate for Juniors and Seniors.
Teaching the Waldorf Method. The principle of Encounter, Enlighten, Evolve will be a common theme throughout the year in each course. The principles of applying this approach will be taught consciously to students.
Encountering the Cowichan People. The sweat lodge will be one way that we begin to build bonds between communities. We will be developing connections with the Hul’qumi’num peoples throughout the year.
More Project Based Learning. Project-based learning will allow students to integrate knowledge between areas and practice fundamental skills. Projects will have specific written, analytical, and presentation requirements that build on foundation skills brought in the Foundation Courses.
Teacher Collaboration. Teachers will be working together to build integrative links between courses to give richer experiences to students. Our faculty meetings will have large components devoted to this task.
The structure of the first semester will follow the sequence shown in the following diagram, beginning in September and ending at the end of January. First Semester:
The second semester will have a slightly different arrangement due to the nature of the Spring Trip, beginning early February and ending in June with Graduation. Second Semester:
(i) Jack, A. I. (2014). A scientific case for conceptual dualism: The problem of consciousness and the opposing domains hypothesis. Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy (Vol. 1), 1– 32. Retrieved from http://www.tonyjack.org/files/2013 Jack A scientific case for conceptual dualism (1).pdf