Richmond Vale Academy stands for a different approach in education. The student needs to be at the center of her own education; developing ourselves as human beings is a complex and multidimensional process. Traditional education systems around the world are educating young and old into a more singular dimension and standardized way.
Another Kind of School
At Richmond Vale Academy, you will live a collective life in an international environment, with teachers and participants from many different countries and with a multitude of different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, skills, languages and education.
Sharing life and work in this setting with its challenges, necessities and important subject matters constitutes an excellent training in and of itself. You will find yourself forced to solve the conflicts that arise within the team. You will learn to speak out and contribute constructively with your opinion, and you will train your ability to find consensus and get things done.
You will learn to focus on reaching the goals you have set, and you will work hard, build your stamina and become hearty. Through it all, you will build friendship and comradeship with your fellow students and teachers, and in the end you will swim like a fish in water, finding it natural to live and work as part of a collective effort with others from different parts of the world.
If an easy life is what you seek, we advise you not to enroll at Richmond Vale Academy. The programs are demanding and challenging. You will discover the great pleasure and sense of comradeship when you achieve a common goal together with your team, and you will realize again and again how much more you can achieve when you put your forces together.
The life at Richmond Vale Academy is in many ways simple. We live at the end of the road in the second poorest nation in the Caribbean, very far from the consumer society of shopping, restaurants and bars. So we produce our own culture and entertainment, and a lot of creativity follows.
The Student in Charge of the Instruction
You who enroll as students at the school are the most important human force to secure the progress of the program with its theoretical and practical undertakings, and to make sure, together with your team, that you get as much as you can from the content and benefit fully from living and working within a larger group of people, enjoying shared tasks and experiences. You, the students, are supposed to take charge of your own instruction, and you will come to regard this as a foundational value that might well take on existential significance.
At this school, you will find that learning is not first and foremost about listening to the teacher, although you, as a student, will in many instances be listening intensely to the teacher. The school’s program consists of a range of intense and spirited activities that constitute the sum of learning and life processes carried through by a group of people who for a considerable period of time share a program with each other that demands cooperation and efforts, and which at the same time is sprinkled with elements that are inspiring and also quite out of the ordinary. Thus, learning will also take place through communication, deliberations, through working out your plan for learning and sticking to it, and putting to use what you learned, the methods you used, the ideas you got from it and the results you harvested from the training.
The campus and everything at the school is creating opportunities for students to learn. Options are nearly limitless to realize self-development and a combination between practical and theoretical learning is essential. Important elements of learning at Richmond Vale Academy are: learning to work in a team, learning to lead and organize others, taking responsibility to grow leadership skills, planning and implementing projects, learning to work and be productive, etc.
DmM is a digitally based system that builds on each student having access to a computer that is connected to the school’s digital library, where all the varied and rich contents of the three learning categories of Studies, Courses and Experiences are located. Thus, the digital library holds the content of all the varied subject matters that the students will study and is always available to all. The DmM categories of learning are in short: Studies, Courses and Experiences.
* Study Tasks are furnished with a short title that in few words nails down what the piece of learning is about. The study tasks are chosen and solved by each student through own choice, with all tasks being forwarded to the teacher, who will certify, add to and in general comment the finished tasks.
* Courses make up an important part of the training. Here, the teacher is the host and performer and is obliged to deliver extraordinary, interesting and solid teaching that engages and enlivens the students through many methods.
* Experiences are part of the training, in which the students either dive into already suggested experiences that are available from the database or invent their own experiences, which are elaborated in writing by the teacher. The experiences let the students into an abundance of impressions, feelings, experiments and new knowledge, with students designing and concluding in writing or in other ways.
Pedagogical principles profiling Another Kind of School
Within the program, some necessary demands of relevant content and lucid methods are included. These demands must be satisfied in order to fulfill the expectations of the program. The program has a certain physical framework that is a part of making it possible. In this connection, we shall clarify in brief the pedagogical principles that lie at the heart of the school and run through its everyday of learning and teaching, making it all worthwhile for students and teachers alike.
1. Both theoretical and practical studies
The school’s learning processes comprise both theoretical and practical studies. The school sees this as an absolute necessity for the process of learning and as a first precondition for benefiting from the school’s program. The theoretical studies are necessary to make the action process more comprehensive. Practical actions help the students acquire the necessary skills and tools to be a successful activist.
2. A high degree of reality
The higher the degree of reality of the program, the more is learned. This means that old and ordinary stuff might be thrown away and substituted with new ways of learning on the spot. Meeting new people and discovering new environments add a higher degree of reality in the learning process. An essential part of learning how to work shoulder to shoulder with people is to understand the reality first-hand.
3. Coherence and overview
Coherence between the situation of the individual student at the school and the situation in developing countries is a necessity. The more coherence with the global situation is present in the school’s teaching, learning and everyday, the more overview and understanding is generated within the individual, the student body and in the results of the learning.
4. The program generates motivation
Motivation is often seen as something coming from the outside. We in contrast see motivation as a product of the meeting between the human being and the outside world, and the need for change and action. Motivation is a structural part of the school’s everyday life, that lets you take in new stuff, try out and experiment with energy and a light head, processing attitudes and sharing exciting tidbits of all kinds with your teammates.
5. Immersion and work
Deep mental involvement or immersion in your program activities will make you demand more immersion. It will ask for deeper learning. Working to make it all happen demands ever more work with the effect of getting deeper into the stuff and the processes. Motivated through the coherent periods of the programs, realization and awareness are the result of immersion and work.
The background of self-determination is the experience of a group of people who want to solve a task together. Its result is democratic sympathy and creation of own ideas for the good of personal equanimity and the function of the group. The respect for others grows every time you are exercising how to plan and how to act together. Self-determination gives the group new life and energy, and this further strengthens and supports the cooperation.
7. The collective is the partner of aloneness
Collectiveness is a core element of the school. In our edition, collectiveness is not a modern, smart form of behavior that will quickly go away. We seek it not because we might as well do so, but because we cannot do without it. Working in groups is an essential part of the learning. Alone the world changes you. Together we change the world. The collective cannot exist healthily and creatively if it is not at all times confirmed by a necessity of an outwardly directed character.
8. Liberation through coherence of conception and action
In the school’s structure and program, you find a thousand possibilities of practicing the direct path from imagination to action through dialectical processes. Imagination is a main precondition for new action. Sometimes conceptions might be stored for a later occasion when time allows, but the structure of the school does not block the wished for connection between imagination and action.
9. Mobility is a precondition for learning much
In all schools, students of any age must move beyond the premises of the school, meeting real life and people, getting engaged through moving and interacting with the phenomena and reality of environment and people. From one point, one cannot see very far. We need to be mobile to generate the necessary learning.
10. Knowledge is a precondition for accomplished experience. Integrate the teacher
Experiences, contrary to other schools, are an essential part of the program. Knowledge is a precondition for experience. This demands that the teacher is integrated in the teaching and learning processes. Learning of a subject matter cannot be separated from the conditions in which it takes place.
At our school, the Headmaster leads the school, the Common Meeting governs the school, and all of us in our different positions act together to run the school.
At RVA, teachers and students meet every Thursday at 16.00 or when needed.
This is a constitution-like, main rule at our school. While the Headmaster leads the school in obvious ways, governing, or deciding about matters for the sake of all, takes place in the Common Meeting, where all are called for, the student body and the teachers, the Headmaster included.
Running the school is a multiple action thing, which we do at all times.
Every hand counts, every effort is important, every small responsibility lifted con tributes, every cheating weighs heavily on the other and every lead, taken by this or that student, decides about the direction
Garden Farming is common sense
With soaring food costs, one billion people going hungry every day, fast food and junk food causing malnutrition, obesity and health problems, food production based on fossil fuels contribute to Global Warming and Climate Change - with all these problems and more, the question of how to produce and supply healthy food for all is a burning issue of our time.
At RVA, we are all involved in food production. We study the issues globally and locally, getting the facts and investigating the consequences for ordinary people. What is the cause of the obesity epidemic in the western world, and what has happened to food sold in supermarkets, making it unhealthy and deficient in nutrients? What does it mean when giant food corporations control food production with profit as their only goal?
Farming is part of our own food policy. We organize ourselves around the work, holding common actions to do the daily and weekly routines.
While working, we are learning the skills of growing different types of vegetable and fruits, companion panting, drip irrigation, composting and natural pest management the students also learn how to plan and start Home Gardens as important action when fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor in St. Vincent, Belize and Ecuador.
You will also learn ways to harvest rain water, composting, mulching, crop selection and fighting pests without using harmful poison or expensive, fossil fuel based, imported chemicals.
To harvest from the garden farm affords us with the advantage of eating high quality and healthy food for body and brain, as well as using our production to save some money we would otherwise spend on lower quality produce in the supermarket.
Work is the physical or mental effort directed at doing or making something. Some kinds of work are connected to the process of manufacturing. Some work is connected to a job or an occupation with activities dictated by a paid employment. Some work is directed at doing, which might be done my manual work or brainwork, at making, which mostly is construction work, or at accomplishing, which is to effect something or to bring something about or to make something function.
In any case, work is a physical effort, also when executed by brainwork.
What you do when you work is to transfer energy from your body in order to move another body a certain distance. Work means being in operation.
But being in any operation is not to work. To work, you have to practice with a certain constancy, such as going on doing manual labor, such as continuing moving something forward, such as obeying demands from the planned work in session, or such as moving a certain amount from point A to point B within a time frame set pr hour.
You will learn how to work, which is the reason for you being dressed appropriately.
Let's say the task in in the sphere of construction at the Building Weekend. The item to construct is a picnic table. The material is wood.
You have also been given screws, rawplugs, and glue for fastening.
Let's get started.. Probably you do not know. That is the point. Know how is the worker's ability. It is a trained ability, and is not just something we can all do.
In Another Kind of School you learn to use tools, name of tools, how to organize, plan and execute actions while working as a team. This is empowering and you achieve new skills in a learning by doing approach.
Enjoy a few photos and videos from three very different Building Weekends.