In the High School here at Shearwater, we strive to offer our students unique learning opportunities that go beyond the subject syllabus content and align with their stage of development. We know that the 14year-old is developing their sense of self and their capacity for thought. So, our Year 8 students engage in a personal interest project (PIP) and embark on an individual learning journey. This path of discovery enables them to feel a sense of ownership over their learning, as they follow their own passions and engage with the wider community, seeking mentorship from people with related skills and interests.
Students learn how to plan, research, execute and document a project. They learn the value of good time management and communication skills. They build resilience through sustained will activity and having to overcome obstacles. Currently we have many different projects on the go, due to be completed and presented on August 24th. These include a magazine, jewellery, tarot cards, clothes, a novel, books with illustrations and creative writing, a bed, a skateboard, a table, photography, painting, drawing, ceramics, a guitar, refurbished bikes, a bike ramp, learning new skills, a cookbook, a podcast, an online course, embroidery, farm renovation, a custom computer, a Lego diorama, a golf book, an environmental film, chest rub, a quilt, crochet, a bushwalk, a custom basketball jersey, a mirror and many other wonderful things.
As a teacher, it is very inspiring to see young people taking responsibility for their learning and working through challenges to find creative solutions. Although I look forward to seeing the finished products and hearing the students speak about their PIPs, the journey is so much more valuable than the end result. My hope for these amazing young people is that they learn from this experience and move forward with a stronger belief in themselves and their capabilities; that their love of learning is nurtured and that a curiosity in the world and connection to the community is fostered.
In the woprds of Rudolf Steiner, “our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
And, in the words of the students:
“I have found PIP really exciting and when I get past obstacles I feel a sense of accomplishment.”
“I tried something I wouldn’t have otherwise for PIP and I have really enjoyed it.”
“If you put so many hours into something you love it is worth it.”
“Getting everything together on time is a bit challenging but it’s a good experience for future events and teaches you to keep going when things are hard.”
Year 8 Guardian