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Steiner Alumni, Bonny Scott

Steiner Alumni, Bonny Scott
5th March 2024

We had the pleasure of speaking to one of our Alumni Bonny Scott about her time at The Alice Springs Steiner School. After school, Bonny studied Media and Communications with Major in Filmmaking (RMIT) and she now works as a Producer in Melbourne. Bonny also works for a not-for-profit organisation that gives out grants to women in the film industry. 

The first documentary I made was called Why Did She Have to Tell the World? It was about two women in the 1970s who were first women to come out as gay on national television. It was one the ABC, or Channel 4 back in the day. And it was this interview that sort of sparked an outpouring of social commentary and a feminist wave in Australia. It was a big deal at the time because men could still be locked up for being gay. But for women, it was sort of out of sight, out of mind. They didn't really exist. So, I worked with the two women and learnt a lot about their history. It was incredible.

I remember so many things from Steiner. When we first moved to the Ragonesi Rd site a terrible wildfire had gone through and just burnt it to shreds.

It's amazing coming back and seeing how much everything has grown; the trees and the grasses, and the work that's been put in, because none of that was there when I was there. We had tough weeds, not Spinifex, but really tough weeds. In the early days, every weekend was filled with working bees, trying to get the site to a place where it felt like home for a school. Even in the holidays before the school year started, mum and dad and we were out there most weekends and weekdays in the holidays working on it. Because there was so much work to do, often our classes would incorporate work into our lessons, everyone from Class 1 to Class 6 was helping to build the school.

I have a vivid memory from when I was here.  Where the oval is now, we had two rusty old soccer goals at either end, but the pitch was full of potholes and tough weeds. In Term 1, someone got a bulldozer and flattened it out for us, which was amazing because the ball could roll on the ground, before this it would just fall into a hole, and we would have to get it out and then keep playing. So, they flattened it, but it just meant that it was pure dust. So, when we played on the oval we left covered in fine red dust. And because there was no grass or anything to hold the soil down, big gusts of winds would rip through the school and create whirly whirlies that just would come at us and we'd all in unison turn our backs, and get blasted then, then carry on playing.

Another memory I have is when Christopher Brocklebank, who was a very innovative man who used to get the students to build the dripper systems and everything for the gardens, announced one day, ‘Oh I've invited Living Waters to come and play at our school this week! And everyone said, ‘But we don't have a basketball court? How is this going to work? He had a plan, he gave the Class 5 & 6 students some flour to mark out a basketball court in the dirt as part of their Maths lesson! I'll never forget the look on the students’ faces when they arrived! We ended up having the best day!

Steiner education has been a significant part of my upbringing and has shaped my outlook on life.

I think the ability to play and the creativeness that was fostered in all of us was beautiful and wonderful. I remember feeling very happy and safe as a young like child going to school in early childhood because each day was incredibly fun and filled with wonder and stories. The stories and the ability to learn through play was incredibly significant for me because I'm a visual, tactile learner.

 I knew at the time I went to a different kind of school but when I tell people that I went to a Steiner school; they think I was so lucky. If you look at how fast paced and intense the education systems are nowadays, it's kind of frightening to think how full on this is for young kids.

My memories of school are the class plays, the spoken word, the reciting of poems and stories, the music which built my confidence especially in terms of public speaking. You know kids that came through Steiner, usually because they are great orators and that was something that we kind of were labelled as the Steiner kids when we went into high school. We were all able to do oral presentations well.

I remember the community was incredibly strong, I had these very strong women and mothers and wonderful fathers around me that helped instil great values in me as a young person. The school felt like one big family that was working tirelessly to create a Steiner school for their children but also for future students to have this opportunity. In the early days, families didn’t just donate their time, they reached into their own pockets to make sure teachers were paid, on top of paying their school fees. The generosity and financial generosity, that so many parents poured into this school for years and years and years to keep it running because there were times where it was tight.

Is there anything you would say to parents considering Steiner education?

I think that the first thing I'll say is that absolutely give it a go. Reach out, talk to talk to the school, some people think it is very alternative and that their child won’t be able to read or write or do maths. It is simply not true!

Children have literally got their whole life ahead of them to grow up and be busy, you know, carry the weight of the world. I think Steiner gives them, a very brief few years of fostering their imagination and creativity and letting them just be children and learn at an appropriate pace. For me, I would have absolutely drowned in a mainstream school, and I wouldn't have been able to keep up. I think the opportunity to not experience the feeling, like I was behind, or something was wrong because I wasn't reading and writing perfectly by Class 1, I was made to feel very safe and held. If parents are wondering, what's going to happen with their literacy skills or anything, it's all there. Steiner schools don’t drown your kids in information or make them feel self-conscious. They're only in early childhood and primary school for such short time. And then they're off and you can’t un-grow, they've got the rest of their life to consume media and information and everything that's wrong with the world or right with the world.

Those early years are important. And they shape who you become later in life. I think being grounded in creativity and imagination and play is never a bad thing. It’s so important to let your kid develop at their own pace and not push them to become something that they're not ready for. 

What was it like when you had to transition to high school?

It was a challenge to start with. It wasn’t that I didn't understand the content, but the style of teaching is very different. The emphasis on stats and grading and how you're performing in a class, there was a lot of pressure that comes with that.  I felt that pressure of suddenly being compared! Before I wasn't being compared to anyone, we were all treated as individuals. But in high school I felt a bit like you're only as good as your marks. It did put me off high school for a bit. I think that I probably would have done better in a Steiner high school, but we didn't have one then. But we adapted, and we learned quickly, the way that things worked. Once I figured it out, I was right.

I think that's what was so lovely about my time at The Alice Springs Steiner School is that we literally built the school with our hands. We put so much work into it, especially on weekends.  And so, there is this beautiful School, that you still see now, you see these alumni of parents and families and kids coming back and wanting to contribute to the school, just because, it takes a village to keep it running. I think most people at the school recognise how important community is and how much the school relies on just the love, from the community. It's special. A lot of lovely people have done and continue to do amazing things there.

Steiner education allows us all to go into whatever career we want.

My brother and I both went to Steiner and it's interesting because we are opposites. He works in corporate finance as an accountant, he is a whiz with numbers and is football mad. And I've taken a very like creative, visual, artistic route. We both have had the same education; everyone comes out differently.

I would also like to finish acknowledging Jo Nixon, who organised the annual Autumn Fair for so many years. It was such a vital role, as at that time, the Fair was the primary fundraising event for the School. Jo’s love and energy, like that of many other parents’ past and present, are what make the The Alice Springs Steiner School such an amazing place.