Into the Unknown Future
MBAT prepares students for an unknown future. Our rationale arises from deep thought about the kind of school we need for the future. There are four components to the rationale: Nature, Community, Distance Learning and Parents.
MBAT is a small school set in Nature. We give children the opportunity to work with animals and plants. Free play is a part of this natural upbringing. There is a Farm and a greenhouse where many aspects of the formal curriculum can be addressed through free activity and projects. Three big themes inspire children as they grow up: the Garden, the Sky and the Sea. These themes are designed to provide the underpinning of a school that will allow children to grow up to be good custodians of the environment. It starts with feeding the chickens and leads on to Marine Biology, but there is a seamless integration of ecological thinking underpinning the school’s practice.
I shall be posting more on the Farm and Nature components in the next couple of weeks.
The Community at MBAT is unique. Not only is the school small, but it is divided into sub-communities. As they grow into the communities, children learn the power of dialogue to create peaceful solutions to problems between people. It starts with circle time and leads on to dynamic committees making proposals for the whole school. The development of the skills and abilities of good community members runs through the school from top to bottom.
Technology has changed the world and it will change more in the coming years. We cannot predict how new technologies will impact our lives, but we can make the most of the ones we already have. We promote self-directed learning through the use of technology and the Flipped Classroom model. Children learn the skills of online research and study, build online portfolios and become proficient in video-conferencing from day 1. Parents have the option of 40% of the curriculum online. This is not just about being at home plugged into a computer. Our Distance Learning Coordinator works with all teachers to ensure that the online school reflects the emphasis on active learning that children experience when they are present.
Learning how to work in this way is a sensible way to prepare for the future. The old school as an office or barracks model is out-of-date.
Family is a foundation stone of Emirati culture. We believe that family plays a vital role in the education of children. Parental engagement is a core value at the school. Parents are respected. At the youngest ages they can accompany their children to school if they wish and throughout the school parental engagement in the cycle of festivities and events is welcome. We want parents to feel that their cultures, wisdom and experience are honored.
Read more about parental engagement here. I’ll be writing more about this important component of the school in the coming weeks.