Monday, May 30, 2011

Fraser Smith :Authentic Education -"Hallelujah".

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Oturu School to see what Fraser Smith was up to! And what a great visit it was -and evening! Fraser is a 'one off teacher' who is an inspiration to others so it was great to see him and his students featuring on TV One Close Up recently. Fraser's enthusiasm is endless and his organic inquiry approach to learning provides a fertile environment for the students at Oturu. The school has hens, bees, herb gardens, a citrus orchard and an olive grove. The children in all classes run things and they propagate their own flowers, process their own honey, olive oil, lip balm and beauty cream, Fraser hasn't ways been appreciated by authorities and at one point left to return ten years later to teach in rural schools. He was was appointed to Oturu in 2ooo - a decile One school that punches well above its weight. The school also features Hunterwasser inspired art.

The four 'bee' girl problem solvers are : Manaaki, Ayvran, Annaleah and Teina. are traveling to the US with their coach Deputy Principal Heater Greaves. I wish you all the best.

When the system loses the creativity of such teachers as Fraser education is at risk.

Read what Fraser and his four "bee girls" students ( who have won a trip) to the US for their bee problem solving ability have to say:

Interviewer: Oturu School - where they do things a bit different.

Fraser: Oturu School is a low decile school - it really means it is a low socio economic area.Our kids are good at first hand learning.

And there is a lot of stuff to see. Lip balm made from kawakawa leaves, olive oil and beeswax. Olive oil. Honey. Soap.Beauty cream ... hens, vege gardens, herb gardens, citrus fruit and the bee hives.

Fraser: We are allowed to to do what we are doing, it is called authentic learning, and it is wrapped up in the New Zealand Curriculum - Hallelujah!

Interviewer: And the hands on approach can be seen to be working having cleaned up their New Zealand opposition four year eight girls have earned themselves a spot in the World Problem Solving Competitions in Wisconsin USA.

Fraser: It's life changing for them.I think it is really, really important, they're somebody.

Interviewer: You could say the opportunities are being created by school principal Fraser Smith.

Fraser: We came because we believed in the dream. When I came it was a very unrestful place, we'd started a lot of planting and gardening..if we failed we did it again until we got it right.When kids pulled up all the trees we replanted them.Now the kids don't pull up trees anymore!

Interviewer: Fraser and his colleagues have created an enviro school - chickens, bees, vegetable, flower gardens and hundreds of olive trees and citrus.

Fraser: Our kids needed to make connections to everything they learn.They could read about something but it didn't make the connections.They need to get out and experience it.

And the students explained that they integrate maths and other areas as well.

Fraser: The process of learning building on learning experiences goes from one experience to the next- it grows and grows. You are not bored- you don't have time to be bored.We are aways thinking of something new to do.

And how he felt if the girls didn't win in the USA

Fraser replied: It doesn't matter, they will have done all the stuff - they are virtually invincible!


Anonymous said...

As Fraser says -"authentic learning" but I don't share his faith in the NZC - the National Standards and the Education Review Office will distract less courageous teachers.

Bruce Hammonds said...

There is no doubt Fraser is a special individual but he is carrying on the New Zealand tradition of holistic learning - making use of first hand experiences. Not too far away from Fraser's school Elwyn Richardson was doing similar things in the 1950s. Pays to be well away from authorities.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of schools that could learn from this example - schools that have been pressurized to believe all education is measurable and all too often restricted to literacy and numeracy. What these students are learning is far more important.