“Preshil is not a place where children do what they like, but rather a place where children like what they do.”
Margaret E Lyttle, Principal 1944-1994
The world needs creative thinkers – people willing to challenge convention, do things differently. Particularly now, as we face a rapidly changing global landscape, it’s imperative our children grow up with a curiosity about the world and have an appetite for learning and self-development.
The themes of compassion and social justice have characterised Preshil since its inception. Our teaching philosophy follows the original principles established by the school’s founder, Margaret J R Lyttle, in the 1930s. It is an approach to education that recognises each child as an individual, with their own unique talents and traits that we value and nurture. At Preshil, children play an active role in their education. They are expected to take responsibility for their actions and ultimately create their own future. Choice with responsibility is a powerful combination – one that fosters self-discipline, maturity, resilience, confidence, initiative, creativity and courage in every child.
By providing a school experience that celebrates the individual, our children learn about themselves and uncover their own potential with our full support. As each child tries new things and their interests evolve, Preshil helps them establish their personal goals and pursue them with passion.
Preshil recognises that human relationships are the fundamental basis of all learning. The child who enters Preshil is accepted unconditionally as she or he is. From that basis the teacher becomes the trusted leader in the education process. By starting “where the child is” the teacher is able to form an educational relationship with the child, which stimulates the child to find answers to questions of relevance to the child.
Preshil teachers know that the act of learning cannot take place solely through the actions of an external agent. The child is not a blank slate waiting to be written on but an active participant in the learning process who brings to the teacher/student relationship a depth of experience and a creative and intuitive mind. Thus the learning process takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect, using inquiry, dialogue and discussion.
Children are Individuals
Central to the Preshil philosophy is the understanding that children develop at different rates and Preshil teachers will modify their programs to meet each child’s developmental needs. It is also understood that cognitive, emotional, psychological and social development may advance at different rates in different children. Teachers therefore take a holistic approach in making any decision concerning each child.
The child at Preshil is taught to handle freedom through the setting of boundaries that gradually become irrelevant as the child develops an integrated self with a strong core of self discipline. Thus the child is encouraged to set personal goals within a socially responsible framework. Competition is replaced by co-operation as the purpose of growth becomes self-actualisation that acknowledges the growth and well-being of others.
Preshil’s philosophy is often described as “child-centred” because the school puts the needs of the child at the forefront of its curriculum. Whilst we accept and welcome changes in technology and subject matter in the decades since our founding, Preshil’s focus on the developmental needs of the child remains a constant. At Preshil the child is valued for himself or herself as a unique human being. From Nursery School through to Year 12, each child is given the encouragement, freedom and courage to become the independent thinker and contributor that she or he is meant to be.