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Why doesn’t school feel more like Disneyland?

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Richard Gerver, one of the clearest and most passionate voices for radical change both in education and in business, wonders in his book “Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today” (2010) about education and why we do what we do. He notes that “education is a serious business, so is the Disney Corporation. It, after all, is one of the world’s most successful organisations. At the heart of the Disney ethos are the concepts of education and entertainment and as a result they captivate generation after generation. It strikes me that great schools follow exactly the same formula. Why do schools not feel more like Disneyland?”

This is what we asked ourselves on the recent Professional Learning Day for staff at Melbourne Montessori School. I took the opportunity to build collegiality and team work with all staff by asking the question, “why is coming to school not as exciting as Disneyland?”. To provide staff with the opportunity to reflect upon and remember why it is that we do what we do, we hopped on a bus and travelled to an iconic Melbourne equivalent; Luna Park.

Life can be a rollercoaster. Rollercoasters, with their ups and downs, twists and turns, are generally considered to be fun experiences. And in life, we should still be able to find a joyous part of every day. Maria Montessori writes that “the child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction. Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul”. Whilst a fun experience, I believe that our staff used this opportunity to value others and build trust. This was also an opportunity for all of us all to step outside of our comfort zone. Some staff challenged themselves to take on the scenic railway (the BIG rollercoaster) and you could observe how proud they were to have achieved this!

Coming to school everyday should be a joy. My intention is for all members of our community to feel like attending Melbourne Montessori School feels like Disneyland and together, with your help, we can experience the joy!

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