This study seeks to inspire innovative practice in teaching that can inform the design of 21st century learning environments, a need that prescriptive pedagogy and one size fits all methods do not address though they remain the dominant discourse and practice. This study takes a mindful stance, providing data with soul, to stimulate conversations among teachers, parents, the school system, and the community towards the goal of school transformation.
The Community School (VCS) was the research site for this study. The life of VCS was documented over the period of its inaugural year using Practioner inquiry and Portraiture. This study of living utilized classroom artifacts, audio-recordings, field notes, open-ended responses and student journal writing, interviews, a research journal and photographs. The synthesis of all this data went through several inductive processes, for both teachers and students.
This study intersects theory, research, and practice—an illustrative example of emergent, responsive, and co-created curriculum. It unpacks and connects notions such as reverence, mindfulness, social justice, student-centred learning, and living curriculum that embody both relational epistemology and social justice rooted in community. It recognizes the unpredictable complexity of authentic growth and the reality that knowledge is provisional, textual, multiple, and never finished or complete. The Community School is becoming an example to other educators in British Columbia of how really trusting in principles of learning like patience and time stimulates deep root, whole-person growth and fruitful thinking that sustains itself.
Though the work of this study is nested in the particulars of VCS—one school of 56 students in grades 7-9— and therefore cannot be generalizable, it concludes that in order for 21st century practices to take root there is a need for an educational culture that is non-judgmental, reverential, and openly supportive of diverse ways of being and doing in the world. To this end, this study also concludes that the enthusiasm of this practitioner researcher for lived curriculum must be tempered in order for threatened yet curious colleagues to feel safe entering into conversations about the educational possibilities of VCS as one example that holds the potential for school transformation.