Charlotte Grob

My 3 month Internship at ONCA

By Charlotte Grob

I arrived in Brighton on 26th February, ready to embark upon a 3 month internship at ONCA.

On my first day I was invited to participate in an event at the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts at Sussex University. Persephone, one of the ONCA co-directors was organising an event called Dream Your School. The day was packed full of events and workshops which I thoroughly enjoyed participating in – it was a great first experience of ONCA. The day was focused around education, in particular imagining how in the future schools and educators could better meet the needs of children and young people. It was great to work with intergenerational groups, including children, students, emerging educators, professional educators, educational policy professionals and parents all interested and excited to discuss ways to shift the current education policies and structures.

The day was managed by a team of enthusiastic and experienced facilitators and volunteers, who hosted a variety of workshops. In the workshops we discussed the current education system and generated ideas about how schools could be more open-minded and efficient in helping students develop and learn in creative environments. I was particularly interested by one teacher’s comment: “unfortunately the way we currently teach is too focused on the growth of economy”. I know, from living in France, that we have the same problem with our education system and could really relate to this comment. Have our schools lost their sense of humanity?

Dream Your SchoolIn addition to the discussions, I participated in several of the creative sessions where we produced music, designed our future schools, made movies, created magazines where we thought about ‘how to free our minds’ and ‘what makes a space feel safe’. Through these workshops I really felt we were able to look at something new, where creativity and flourishing was the priority – not exam results and assessments. It felt like a friendly, warm space where a school was efficient but most importantly focused on the well-being of the young people it serves. One of the facilitators said that “90% of communication is now non-verbal” which made me realise how important it is to focus our attention back on one another – and this is definitely what the day was about for me: people helping one another, being supporting and exchanging ideas in a calm, relaxed environment. The school of the future definitely won’t be focused around technology, a tool that is often used instead of human interaction and empathy.

Another part of the day I enjoyed was learning more about visual communication and British Sign Language. Sign language is a way of interacting through looking at one another and engaging on a more expressive physical level. The school of the future will be more inclusive, helping each other develop skills and knowledge around different abilities, human interactions and real life. That for me would be the most interesting thing to learn, because it is beneficial to everyone.

You can see the Realtime Board that facilitator Luke Flegg set up at the event here.

And read a post about the day by O N C A trustee Bridget McKenzie on the Our Future City blog here.