BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
When they retired at the end of last school year, veteran French American and International faculty members Danielle Amet (Physical Education) and Caroline Smith (Upper School Science) saw an opportunity to fulfill a years-long dream: to buy a sailboat,
and embark on a three-year odyssey to discover the world.
On the eve of their departure for adventures known and
unknown, Caroline and Danielle took a day out of their
preparations to generously share their adventure with some
of their former students.
On April 23, the French American 4th Grade traveled
down to South Beach Marina to visit First Love, Danielle
and Caroline’s gleaming new sailboat. In small groups of a
dozen students at a time, they brought the children aboard
and introduced them to the world of sailing, showing them
where they would work and live over the next three years.
The children learned about the physical aspects of sailing –
the equipment and science behind what makes a sailboat
work – and were introduced to various nautical techniques,
like navigation and how to tie a knot.
Our 4th graders not only had a wonderful time, but an
educational one that reflects the school’s commitment to
presenting the outside world as an adjunct classroom.
The world outside.
The Environment as “The Third Teacher”
As a core adjunct to the curriculum, French American
provides learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
Based on the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood
education, the environment becomes a “third teacher”,
in addition to the students’ classroom teachers, and their
parents and peers. Developed 50 years ago by the school
system in the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia, this
pioneering pedagogical philosophy is based on the importance of relationships – personal, and to the physical world
around them – to a child’s learning process.
Incorporating the outside world as a “third teacher” provides a vibrant, flexible environment that promotes curiosity and discovery. These experiences outside the classroom
help develop a sense of community and independence, and
allow students to explore first-hand their relationship with
nature and the environment.
The Third Teacher concept is being employed in the
design of the new Maternelle opening this Fall at 1155 Page
Street. The campus is designed to promote the children’s
positive interactions with the world around them: the classrooms will be bathed in natural light and invite in the outdoors by facing the interior of the campus, and the outdoor
play spaces will offer children room to roam and explore.