An intentional school is one in which all the stakeholders are collaborators in the one single objective of giving a peaceful, positive, engaging and pleasant educational experience to the child.
Education happens as much outside the classroom as it happens inside the classroom. It happens in the dormitory, dining hall, and playground as well as in the library.
In a traditional school, education is goal-oriented, based on grades, performances and results. The goals are those of the parent(s), the teacher(s), and the society in general. But, a child is at her best when she is in touch with her own self and when she follows her joy. So often teachers and parents ignore these factors completely. The child is not counted as one of the collaborators in the process of her own education. In an intentional school, however, a child is intentionally motivated to participate fully along with parents, teachers and other staff members. In a traditional school, the child’s preferences and choices are rarely taken into consideration when their teachers design lesson plans and delivery methodologies — for the classrooms or outside them. In an intentional school, everything in the school is “intentionally” designed to suit the child’s best interests and tastes and preferences. It is an inclusive school and accommodates a unique living style for the children.
Expecting a child to do (equally) well in every subject (mathematics, science, languages, carpentry and dance) is an unreasonable expectation. All too often, they learn to become numb to the beauty of the subject in question. For example, they are not fascinated by the fact that nature has the Fibonacci sequence within itself, like the number of petals of flowers. Most have three petals (like lilies and irises), many have five petals (like parnassias and rose hips), or eight (cosmea), thirteen (some daisies), twenty-one (chicory), thirty-four, fifty-five or eighty-nine (Asteraceae). Likewise, spirals in a pinecone or seeds in a sunflower, the shapes of shells and hurricanes, snowflakes and waves are all in the Fibonacci series.
Fractals are shapes which look the same on the inside and the outside. They look the same no matter how big or how small they are. They are seen in the leaves of ferns, branches of trees, snowflakes, nautilus shells, lightning, brain neurons and in coastlines. When getting a perfect score in mathematics is the goal of the child and the educator, the concentric circles in onions, the rings in a tree, or the ripples in a pond do not awestrike the child. Neither do the facts that the shape of our galaxy is a mathematical series, that the moon which is 400 times smaller than the sun causes an eclipse because of the fact that it is 400 times closer to the earth. Nor is the child intrigued by the similarities and proportions of the distances between the planets of our solar system, or the Pyramids of Giza.
Nature is a big school of mathematics and is entreating the child to learn from it; so is music, dance, the pottery wheel or carpentry. When anything is learned with an open mind at a fundamental and foundational level, the “whys” rather than the “how’s” — learning starts. This learning fascinates the child, prompts her to ask questions and to seek the fundamentals of the design of all things in nature. The focus does not start or end with grades, marks or ranks. They certainly happen, but the child is looking at the bigger picture. Inventions, new paradigms and lifestyles take place when the child has a fresh look at everything from an unpreconditioned mind. If we allow the child to express herself in any of the many aspects of life, learning is natural and rhythmic process. Parents, teachers, management, the chef or the infirmary nurse — all are part of the intentional school culture and are collaborators in the child’s education. They all support the child to do the best she wants to really do in life, whether it be cooking or dancing; art or mathematics.
This influence of the surroundings is a true factor in every school, whether in an intentional school culture or a traditional school. Yet, everyone in the process of an intentional school is conscious of it. All activities and themes are intentionally designed. For example, the technology program at the school is offered in such a way that the child is a true stakeholder, unlike in a conventional school where there are kits and lists of experiments using robotics, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technologies. In an intentional school, children create their own projects. They are taught programming language early in the fourth grade and are encouraged to find problems and then to design the solutions themselves. They learn and become familiar with the process of patenting the designs and products which are the outcome of their original thinking. And when they learn the “python” programming language, the way they look at the world will change. They will “think” in the object oriented language, rather than just “using” the language. So, the school is an object which contains the class object, which contains the wall objects, the blackboard object, multiple instances of the student class, etc. This is a breakthrough which lets them appreciate technology in a fresh and different way from the conventional school way of working with kits and predesigned experiments.
An intentional school culture is a natural environment for the child to blossom naturally, as nature has intended every being to be, and without constant interruption. The less interference there is, the better it is for their original growth.
Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Well, he was an original thinker even as the masters (Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Jesus, Osho and others) have brought a beauty to the world that we live in. They defied the rules of the game and defined their own sets of rules. Every child has the potential to bring into the world a stunning new way to look at it, a totally different way from any of her predecessors. An intentional school gives her the means and opportunity to let her do it in her own way.
All in all, the intentional school is much more compatible with the teaching/learning of the individual child and her wants, aptitudes, and goals, and in helping her to be who she is meant to be in this world and beyond.