Drumduan school, in the Scottish highlands, offers it’s students a unique and emancipatory education experience free of any form from exams or standardised testing. It’s educational focus is on participatory and practical education. Academic study is enhanced and balanced with movement, music and artistic work, with crafts, foraging and outdoor activities. Students learn through experience, they learn their science by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelising onions. What’s more, the teenagers who attend the school are happy and inspired and have the opportunity to discover who they are and what they want to achieve from life. Aspects that are all too frequently missing from the tradition educational experience.
“We live in an age where much of our establishment is now under question and rightly so. Long held traditions, religions and major institutions are being scrutinised, yet are enough of us asking the fundamental questions? What is the true purpose of our education system? Why do we sit at desks for much of the day at school for over ten years? Are we teaching our pupils the life skills they need?
Their interactions with their teachers is also vastly different from the traditional schooling model. Free from the imposed respect of formal titles, they address their teachers by their first name which lends itself to a more mentor based experience where lessons become a conversation rather than a monologue. The model developed by the school reconnects teenagers with both the world around them and themselves and makes me wish that I had had an education opportunity like this available to me as a teenager.
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