Escola da Toca is a center for the application, development and dissemination of educational practices that promote the Integral Development and Ecological Literacy of its students. At Escola da Toca, children from 2 to 6 years old live their childhood by playing spontaneously and participating in activities that favor the development of their autonomy, their connection with the natural world and the possibility of exploration and experimentation of multiple languages.
Our school is a school that fosters Integral Development, that is, we offer a set of experiences that promote the development of the individual multiple dimensions. We understand that Education, as a humanizing process, must work for the development of physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual aspects. This means that, in addition to cognitive development, education also takes care with other dimensions of human development. It is even understood that intellectual development depends on the other dimensions to fully happen: for example, a body limited in its expression or a compromised sociability directly impact the cognitive processes.
Here Nature is the great master, who teaches and inspires. Without division by age range and under the guidance of multitalented teachers, children absorb knowledge from observation and experience, learning from each other. They build and manage elements created with sustainable technologies such as composting toilets, agroforestry gardens, seedlings nursery, compost pile, meliponary, fish tank, banana circle, among others, understanding the interconnection of each one of these elements for the good functioning of all the system, understanding through daily practice ecological principles such as diversity, cycles and interdependence.
By valuing childhood and its culture, we observe the play and the children participation in activities that enable them to constitute themselves as autonomous individuals connected with themselves, with others and with the planet.
The educational approach of Escola da Toca is organized around three philosophical axes.
Nature as a Master
At Escola da Toca, children learn through direct experiences with the natural world and with a space specially designed to build a Sustainable Human Community. Here there is no difference between learning and living. Our approach aims to regenerate our relationship with the planet, bringing the understanding that “we are not the smartest being on the planet, but we are part of an intelligent system”, in other words, we exercise the systemic understanding of life.
According to Leonardo Boff, “nature is a permanent source of wisdom and contemplation, a great school”. It guides us in the pursuit of comprehension and connection with the wholeness that begins from the reconnection with oneself. To be ecologically literate is to develop oneself according to ecological principles, that is, to learn how to speak the language of nature and to integrate practices that promote emotional, social and ecological intelligences in their multiple dimensions.
We understand that all natural development involves some learning process. And this ecological approach allows children and adults responsible for them to discover, through daily experiences and interactions, the nature patterns and ways of operating, naturally and gradually transforming how they perceive and act in the world.
Composting food, observing the daily life of bees and preparing syrup from their propolis, are means that allow us to remember what a makers we can be. And, in this way, it is possible to value this strength already innate in children, who transform elements and base materials into extraordinary things all the time. They also discover that the act of planting, and accompanying the development process and transformation of a seed, is part of a natural cycle. And this is how each participant of our school community lives daily: with the perception that everything is connected.
The Integral Being
The human being is made of multiple dimensions that deserve to be all equally nourished. We, human beings, are plural beings, with an infinite capacity for learning. We are mind, body, emotions, spirit, and we are able to develop multiple intelligences from exercising multiple languages. Here at Escola da Toca we create spaces so this experimentation and this integral development can happen.
There are many moments in the school routine in which we feed the different dimensions of being: in a walk through the woods, which creates affective bond and intimacy with the natural spaces and awakens the ecological consciousness; in a mathematical game that develops logic and reasoning; in the massage and aromatherapy practices that are offered in moments of rest, offering the opportunity of self-perception and self-knowledge of the own body and emotions; in the aesthetic appreciation of an artistic installation; in the meditation and contemplation situations that promote the connection with the inner world; in a moment of planting and cooking, which brings new meanings to the act of eating and so on.
The Culture of Childhood
Valuing Childhood and its Culture – the enormous number of rites, games, dances and popular songs historically built and socially organized around the child – means that in our pedagogical proposal we have as a starting point the child’s own perception. It means providing an environment that considers and respects the spontaneous and natural process through which the child’s consciousness is built, believing that this process brings forth healthy and deep values.
During childhood, children create their own language of communication with the world around them and this language is the play. When playing, children are focused on the here and now, responding through their own body to all their needs. To play is for the child the connection between the external world and the internal world; a fundamental experience of identity-building and the awakening of consciousness; the language of knowledge that affirms the creative capacity of our species. This playing moment is a child’s right and a necessity and it needs to be respected.
When children play they are fully present, and as each child plays in a unique and particular way, it is the educator’s role to be a facilitator and an observer of these moments. Here at school, while children play adults observe, take notes, photograph, record the individual researches to understand the paths and feed their own play, inserting new elements into space, for example, or raising questions to be investigated at other times.
The Nature as a Master, Integral Being and Culture of Childhood are the three great umbrellas that guide us towards the construction of our community which is already an expression of the future we long to see.