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An interview with Steiner Alumni, Mitchell Scott
As our school celebrates 25 years of Steiner education in Central Australia, we have been catching up with our Alumni to capture their stories about their experience at The Alice Springs Steiner School.
My name is Mitchell Scott and I live in the Adelaide hills, South Australia. I went to university to study Commerce and I have since become at Chartered Accountant. I currently am focused on working with large energy and mining companies with their Governance & Risk Management practices. I am also involved in the AFLW competition as an Umpire and the local South Australian state league (SANFL) where I officiated in my first grand final last year in front of a crowd approximately the size of the Alice Springs population (27,000 strong).
I attended The Alice Springs Steiner School (TASSS) from 1998-2005. During that time (2004) the school transitioned from being located in Araluen, behind the Araluen Art Centre, to moving to its current home on Ragonesi road.
Moving to Ragonesi was a contrast. At Araluen, it was suburban and green. Big green trees that provided lots of shade, green gardens and grass wherever you looked. Ragonesi road, brought you in contact with the harsh beauty of the Central Australian bush. In those first years we (the students) thought of ourselves as almost pioneers. This spirit was undoubtedly fostered by our teachers who explored the countryside up to and along the ranges with us, had us contributing to building garden beds near where the kindy is now located to help control the dust. This move, which was a tough period for the school and could have been for its students, instead solidified an adventurous and creative spirit that I carry with me today.
Most of my important memories from Steiner came from Main Lesson or school plays. In Main Lesson we learnt about ancient Greece, Rome, the birth of diplomacy and the senate. I was remember being enraptured with the concept of debate as a way reasonable people worked through their differences. I thought, I need to put this to the test. The first person I tried it out on was with mum. She had no idea what hit her. I had gone from a normal provocative 10 year old boy, whinging if he didn’t get what he wanted, to a well reasoned, persuasive (at least in mind mind) child, who had a lot of success in those early weeks before Mum finally cottoned onto what I was doing (only after enquired to our teacher, who delighted in informing her about the styles of Cicero, Cato and Caesar).
Whilst we moved on to a new topic in the classroom, the lesson has remained etched in my mind and has formed a style of calm thoughtful reasoning I have tried to bring to all the critical conversations throughout my life.
A life well lived is a life of balance. Balance with nature, balance in your community and balance within yourself. This is what Steiner education and its community taught me and it has helped me in life the most. The Alice Springs Steiner School campus is set in a location surrounded by bush, so you really develop a connection to country. I think this is why despite working an office job in the city of Adelaide, I live in the Adelaide hills surrounded by gum trees. Being able to find that balance is so important to me.
The strength of the Steiner community has such a large impact on the success of the school. It is not just what the school provides to their students and families, but what families will contribute to the school. Being part of the enormous effort put into the school Autumn Fair, or helping mum and dad at school working bee’s, has instilled the importance of contributing to my community throughout my life. By giving to your community first and foremost, you end up attracting and surrounding yourself with people that ultimately make your life better.
Personally I think education not what the school can teach the student, but rather what the individual can learn from their environment. Creating space for a child to learn, explore and grow is so important and it was my experience that this is foundational in the Steiner philosophy of education.
The other really important aspect that I think Steiner nurtures is the independent development of social skills in a safe space through free play. There is more and more research on the value of free play to teach the independent development of social skills amongst children. This is particularly evident when adult involvement is lessoned.