School’s in for laissez-faire

Students participate in one of the school''s outdoor activities. 189122_01

By Rowan Forster

One of Australia’s most unorthodox primary schools – geared towards greenies and free spirits – is set to welcome its first ever cohort of students in Cockatoo this month.

Maxwell Creative School boasts a “creative” approach to learning and a “laissez-faire” curriculum whereby pupils are expected to practice self-discipline.

Based at the site of the old Montessori School on Rainy Hill Road, children will experience hands-on classes and outdoor activities, considered more practical than standard teaching methods.

With an intake of just 30 students, positions are limited.

Founder Jane Macdonald was inspired to spearhead the radical school by her own experiences growing up.

“My teachers said I was rebellious, distracted, disorganised, and unmotivated – and they were right,” she said.

“I was one of those kids who needed her hands on things.

“We’re offering these creative programs because too many children’s’ lights go out during their education – and there’s no need for that.

“Too many grow up to have little idea about who they are, what they are capable of, and how they add value to the world around them.

“We offer our children an innovative, collaborative, democratic, creative education, empowering children to learn both creatively and academically, in light of who they are, on a rural property.”

The school already has 20 students enrolled for its inaugural class.

“We’re Australia’s first creative school, so it’s a bit of a coup for us,” Mrs Macdonald said.

“Lots of parents are looking for alternatives, but they’re quite limited.”

On a standard day, the whole school meets in a community circle to discuss any issues the students are facing and explore ideas they have generated.

They then proceed to study regular Australian curriculum subjects, but by participating in projects.

“The nature of the school is very much student directed,” Mrs Macdonald added.

The School of Creative Education, overseeing the Maxwell Creative School, already operates the Farm School for pre-school aged children and The Tribe for home-schoolers.

Parents are already spruiking the institution’s “modern-day” approach to learning.

“It just sounds so much more practical and it actually gives them everyday awareness and life skills, unlike what they would get in a lot of classrooms,” one parent told the Gazette.

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