How do we teach?
The Kairos Curriculum
Kairos employs a curriculum framework that balances the head (cognitive), heart (affective) and hand (cognitive). We ask our teachers to encourage the children to follow three parallel journeys of personal development, which we conceptualise as a junior version of any adult’s search for maturity and wisdom. We have articulated these journeys as follows:
Head Journey: inquiry ➤ accountability ➤ integrity
Heart Journey: gentleness ➤ compassion ➤ harmony
Hand Journey: diligence ➤ initiative ➤ mastery
We incorporate this framework throughout the school’s operation, from the timetable and the structure of the lessons, to the selection of extramurals, to emerging outreach projects, and so on. In addition, we also employ the following methods in our teaching practices in order to support the children’s learning:
- Integrity: We as teachers practise true mentorship, and work towards achieving a mentored society, by evolving in our personal capacity to serve as role models for the next generation.
- Mastery: Our children achieve competence in academic practices, as well as in other important literacies.
- Harmony: Our children come to recognise the power of gentleness and compassion, thereby developing self-leadership and fostering social and personal harmony.
Academically, we are conscious of the guidelines of both the Independent Examination Board (IEB) benchmarks and the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), as well as the former national curriculum (the Revised National Curriculum Statements). We also employ internationally relevant and broadminded theoretical guidelines around gaining access into text-based realities of academic practice.
We ask our teachers to remember the following three guidelines.
1. INTEGRITY: As an adult, be a worthy mentor so the genius in each child comes forth.
2. MASTERY: Educate the whole child, with his or her multimodal needs and his or her uniquely individual educational needs.
3. HARMONY: Balance autonomy and guidance.
We also ask our children (and ourselves) to agree to the following, within an organised system of discipline management. When an agreement is broken, includes negotiating appropriate acts of reparation in order to come back as consequences for breaking any these agreements.
1.1. I am kind and honest with myself.
1.2. I am learning what makes me comfy and uncomfy.
1.3. I stop, I scan, I decide, I respond and I rest.
1.4. I am honest when expressing my observations, feelings, needs and requests.
1.5. I keep my agreements.
1.6. I apologise for my mistakes.
1.7. My thoughts, feelings and actions line up.
2.1. I make an effort in every challenge.
2.2. I create beauty in everything I do.
2.3. I am curious about what helps me learn.
2.4. I enjoy the lessons my mistakes teach me.
2.5. I look for ways to improve my work.
2.6. I convert intentions into actions.
2.7. I celebrate my successes.
3.1. I learn from others.
3.2. I am gentle, kind and truthful.
3.3. I respect everyone’s freedom of choice.
3.4. I am curious aout others’ observations, feelings, needs and requests.
3.5. I listen carefully and I ask for help if I want it.
3.6. I speak up for what is right.
3.7. We create harmony in Kairos each day.
Our Teaching Methods
Children are constantly involved in every aspect of their learning and many aspects of school operations. Instead of rules, we negotiate agreements at the beginning of the year, and the consequences for breaking those agreements.
We offer children an educational experience that is holistic, socially intelligent, and academically sound, with an unusually healthy classroom and playground culture, guided throughout by solid educational theory.
In other words, we’re a common sense school. We seek common sense models of education without being constrained by normative expectations, as long as we align ourselves with curriculum benchmarks, amd as long as we ensure mobility of our children to other schools.
It is self-evident that we go beyond offering a conventional schooling model of education. Educational innovations include the following, sensibly integrated into a coherent school system:
1. Experiential learning in the classroom and the playground (e.g. learning economics through a local school currency, or agriculture through developing and harvesting a vegetable garden).
2. We employ the idea of Integrated Studies where a class is immersed in particular theme for a month. Themes are selected as a conscious combination of children’s interests and national curriculum guidelines.
3. The culture of our classes is one of collaborative discussion, critical thinking and personal investigation. Holding to an opinion, even if it is different to the majority, is encouraged as much as listening to others who hold different opinions.
4. We emphasise beauty in all our bookwork, being gentle and kind in all interactions, and aspiring to always do our best.
5. The whole school community gathers ceremonially every morning to begin the day together through choral singing and poetry.
6. An emphasis on balance on everything we do, such as a general invitation for creative expression and initiative balanced with respect for authority and the learning of diplomacy and etiquette.
7. Our assessment framework employs Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (and Kalantzis and Cope’s Multiliteracies), which achieves a multimodal orientation learning to the children’s learning. Also children’s self-assessments are juxtaposed against their teachers.
8. Grades and standardized testing are minimised, so that we minimise anxiety and academic pressure, most especially for the younger grades. Formative and continous assessments through general classwork is our norm, and test-writing skills (such as the skills of decoding worksheets and selection of answers during time pressure) is taught specifically for the older grades.
9. Kieran Egan’s innovation of Learning in Depth, where each child from Grade 3 upwards receives a personal research topic to become an expert in extramurally, and the same topic lasts all their years in our school.
10.The inclusion of Philosophy for Children (P4C) as a general principle and a weekly practice in our Inquiry session, where the children and teachers practice philosophising with each other, using various P4C methods.
11.Use of rhythms along the lines of Waldorf Schools: (balancing activities for inward focus and outward focus during a single class; balance of the same over the school day; a three day rhythm through the use of recall, application of recalled content, and anticipation of new content; a week rhythm of the school timetable; a monthly rhythm where one Integrated Studies theme is tackled across as many classes and teachers as possible; a termly rhythm where particular rituals are achieved each term; and an annual rhythm where we help the children become conscious of the seasons and the variety of religious festivals in our world).
12.We also refer to the Waldorf School system’s guidelines around the psychological processes for each age of child. This informs the educational content and educational activities we bring to the children, including the storytelling curriculum and the playground games curriculum.
13.All children are invited to engage in regular “Check-ins” where they express what’s alive for them in the moment and in their lives in general.
14.We pair children together for a term for our weekly Peer Mentoring, where an older child is asked to teach a younger child something of academic value, either reading, writing or maths, as mentioned above.
15.Our timetable includes longer break-times than in other schools, because we regard the playground as an important opportunity for learning and an integral part of our curriculum.
16.In instances of tension between children, children learn the skills of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication to resolve issues.
17.As part of our Non-Bullying Policy, our children learn the various Whole Brain tools of Dan Siegel and the Somatic Experiencing perspective of Peter Levine, as each individual child comes to learn the particular nature of his or her own individual needs.
18.Because of the deeply troubled racial legacy of our land, we emphasise an awareness among our teachers that white people are in various degrees of unconsciousness with regard to their privilege. Similarly, we aspire to be conscious of all forms of suffering from other categories of target groupings. We also deeply value diversity favour recruiting people of colour for staff positions and enrolling people of colour for student placements in the school.
19.We use electronic technology consciously at Kairos in ways that foster rather than suppress social interaction, collaborative learning and inquiry.
20.Our school currency (Rosses) serve as an economy for the trade of homemade goods and creative services between the children (and often the teachers). This is an exciting opportunity for exercising entrepreneurship and yet another provocation for inquiry into fairness, ethics and real-life social problems like inequality.