The pedagogical concept of the School for Life can be understood as a guideline that the team is constantly oriented to. In reality, the goals are sometimes achieved more, sometimes less and in unfavourable times perhaps not at all. You need imagination, the will to “best practice” and staying power.
Children are, if they are not hindered, active co-creators of their learning processes. They are curious, self-motivated, learning by trial and error, prefer the combination of ‘theory’ and ‘practice’, the chance of ‘learning by doing’. The farm can be understood as a base station of Jules Verne’s voyages of discovery. The acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities serves the continuation of the projects run by the children. The pedagogues no longer act like tamers who try to shear the whole class over one last, they are rather stimulants, development companions, assistants of the research and discovery journeys.
Falling on your own feet
In the case of vocational schools, the ideas of the Thai National Education Commission go far beyond the current state of international discussion. They are to be further developed into “Entrepreneurial Schools” and equip graduates with a double qualification: the ability to work in a team and the ability to “innovative entrepreneurship” with the creation of jobs. The pilot study “The Development of Entrepreneurial Schools in Thailand” (Zimmer / Puntasen / Suksirikul / Wawsri 2001) also shapes the School for Life.
The goal is: education for entrepreneurial spirit. An innovative entrepreneur is a Habenichts, who refines an entrepreneurial idea and realizes it in the market. His best capital is a good idea that contributes to improving the quality of life. This other entrepreneur is socially and ecologically responsible and does not plunder resources. If one examines the CVs of people who have dared to take the leap into self-employment, it becomes apparent that they already developed entrepreneurial initiative in their childhood and had more difficulties with conventional schools. The School for Life wants to create a framework that encourages children and young people to develop and test entrepreneurial ideas in a playful way – without the compulsion of starting a business. Children and adolescents thus prepare themselves for later situations in which it will be important to create jobs for themselves and others (instead of chasing after non-existent ones) and to overcome poverty. Entrepreneurship education does not mean encouraging unchecked participation in a spiralling consumption, but rather education for intelligent modesty with the goal of a high quality of life and scarce resources.
Community Education means “learning in, with and for the community”. Learning is understood as participation in the sustainable development of the community. Community schools are open to both internal and external participation and participate in the development and shaping of the community. The School for Life and the nearby village of Pongkum form a network that serves such developments on a small scale. In examples: The farm creates jobs for people from the village and teaches them competence in organic farming. Together with children and guests of the School for Life, the village school developed a recycling yard that serves to recycle village rubbish; the children become managers and experts in recycling.