Nothing could be more important than preparing our children to find their place in the world, to develop in them a deep understanding of how the world works and to empower them to take action that values and protects it now and into the future.
To this end, we have commenced a new partnership with Richard Dunne, Head Teacher of a Church of England state primary school in Walton-on-Thames. In 2010, after reading the Prince of Wales’s book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at the World, Richard was inspired to draw out seven principles of Harmony that could be used as guiding principles for all learning. The aim of this work was for these principles to underpin a carefully planned and delivered curriculum, based around ‘enquiries of learning’, that values subject specific skills and knowledge, and applies them through meaningful, real-life projects where subjects are linked together around a particular theme.
In taking the children on this journey, it has become increasingly clear that the children are starting to see the world differently. They are noticing nature’s geometry and the patterns that exist both in us and around us. They are understanding how natural systems work in never-ending cycles. They can see that everything is connected through a web of interdependent relationships. It is a model that is providing them with a template to create a healthier, more sustainable way of living.
More than that, this approach to learning is developing in them a range of other skills. They are improving their fine motor skills through their weekly geometry sessions. They are learning to observe and draw more accurately, to notice the detail in things. They are becoming more mindful and able to concentrate better as a result. Above all, they are developing a confidence in expressing their understanding of how the world works, how they are an integral part of it, and how they can align their practices to enable them to live more harmoniously with it.
This work goes right to the heart of the SFT’s core educational purpose as it tackles what we believe to be the primary root causes of the industrialisation and globalisation of food systems. These systems have had catastrophic impacts on the life support systems of the planet, based as they are on a reductionist mindset that has led humans to separate themselves from nature and to exploit it for their own gain.
Now there is real potential to develop this work further and explore ways of integrating Harmony principles into education on a much broader scale, both nationally and internationally. It is in this work that we will be supporting Richard, working with him on research, and helping him to reach the widest possible audience.