Cooks Hill Common
Continuing on from my thesis, I started final year (2016) and knew I wanted to design a school from the get go. In my thesis, I read of apprenticeship, situated learning and communities of practice and liked the idea of designing a school integrated with the real world. People learning of something not out of context - something I felt frustrated with; how we study Architecture - but through its practice or implementation. Books like ‘Shop Class as Soul Craft’ which I read in 2014 were influential to how I undertook the Masters. The inherent satisfaction of working with your hands.
I began reading about Australian education and an influential book early on, ‘The Stupid Country’ by Chris Bonnor and Jane Caro, which was written before the GONSKI report, explained of inequitable funding between public and private Australian schools. his has remained a primary driver for the project due to the continuing relevance of the issue. I ended up talking to Chris Bonnor on the phone - he was actually my high school principle for two years - and we had a chat about the challenges that public education continues to face. I mentioned my interest in alternative education while living in Newcastle, and he recommended I look at the Big Picture Cooks Hill Campus on Laman Street as he had been involved with the program and made the connection. The model sees students undertaking self-selected practice based learning surrounding an area of interest including one day a week internship under a mentor. Students learn with the support of teachers, families and the community.