The following was published via EducationHQ on 12 May 2021, and was in response to the negative media that LLV received in mid-late April 2021.
I have three children that attend Lindfield Learning Village (LLV). One who started in Year 7, when the school first opened in 2019 (and so is now in Year 9); and two who started this year, entering Kindergarten and Year 2. Our positive experience of the school in its first two years, in particular the impact that it has had on my eldest child, convinced us to send our two youngest as soon as we could.
The increased focus on student well-being, allowing students to explore & innovate and to develop essential life skills (e.g. empathy, resilience, collaboration) has resulted in children that love going to school, are excited about learning and who embrace the diversity of life (and others). As a brand-new school implementing a ground-breaking education model, there have been some challenges but they are absolutely on the right track.
The content that made recent media headlines came out of a pre-learning exercise related to contemporary Australian Indigenous History. Students (in Years 5 & 6) were asked to empathise with viewpoints from various perspectives related to this topic, do their own research and then critically analyse what they found. Their conclusions were then discussed as a group with all students able to present the research and information they had discovered.
This is exactly the learning environment that children should be experiencing at school; especially when exploring contemporary social issues that are being widely discussed in mainstream media. Investigating available research, data and commentary; analysing these from various viewpoints; and discoursing with others to discover a combined greater understanding. These are all critical components of learning, and importantly, give students an understanding of why they’re learning, leading to increased engagement and ultimately developing a passion for learning. Learning is not merely a one-way transmission of content from teacher to student.
This is what I think was missed with the initial media reporting of what was being ‘taught’ at LLV. There was no context provided, no appreciation for the multi-faceted aspects of learning and no opportunity for a balanced perspective by seeking comments from the actual school and/or parents of the children who were involved. Thankfully, that more balanced perspective has since been presented by other news and media organisations, including from interstate and overseas.
Importantly, the Lindfield Learning Village principal and her team have the overwhelming support of the LLV parent & carer community. For us, LLV has transformed the way that our children learn, the way they understand the world and the way that they engage with others. We were all shocked and then frustrated that our school was being presented in such an un-informed way. But our thoughts soon turned to the school’s staff and teachers and what they must have been feeling.
On the afternoon of the day that the media story broke, I was approached by one of our dedicated parent volunteers who suggested that we, as a school community, rally support around our children’s teachers by preparing a morning tea the next day, including sending in messages of support. That night, hundreds of parents and children baked, cooked, prepared, wrote, painted and drew; resulting in an outpouring of positive appreciation for our school the next morning. The adverse media attention had united our entire community in a truly inspiring and impactful way.
Lindfield Learning Village is the NSW Department of Education’s flagship school and is a result of decades of local and international research on the future of education. The decision-makers involved in initiating this ambitious vision for public education in NSW should be applauded and proud of what the school has achieved so far. This school is preparing my children to be valuable, contributing and engaged members of society; passionate about learning, constantly innovating and valuing the power of collaboration. I’m excited for the life adventures, opportunities and challenges that LLV is preparing my children for and am more confident than ever that they’ll be ready for it. This is what school should be like everywhere.
Friends of the Village
(Lindfield Learning Village Parents & Citizens Association)