The driving forces of daily life at Banana Mountain are curiosity, creativity and collaboration. Day to day, activities and games ebb and flow according to the fluid logic of children's play. Over time, rich generative projects emerge from the interactions of the group and take exciting and unexpected twists and turns. Learning is everywhere all the time and we welcome and embrace it. There is no typical day.
Our openness to flow and the learning it supports is enabled by clear daily rhythms and structures created in collaboration with our community. We start the day with a circle, facilitated by a young community member and attended by all, where we check-in, share information, make plans and connect. Depending on the day and the mood of the group the opening circle can be silly, deeply serious, or anything in between. Whatever its character, it always brings us together at the start of the day.
After the opening circle, the group separates to pursue their passions, interests and independent learning. Depending on the age and interests of the young people, this may be anything from a collaborative project, ongoing work towards a long term personal goal, a facilitated lesson or activity, working with a visiting artist, socialising with friends, or open-ended play and exploration of our beautiful site. There are no standardised people so there is no standardised program. Our goal is to create the richest possible learning environment and support young people to make the most of it.
In the middle of our day, all activity pauses and young people return to the centre of our campus to eat. We don’t oblige young people to eat together but we do work to create the conditions which make doing so a joyful experience. Sharing food is a great pleasure but if an individual or group chooses to eat separately for reasons of their own that's ok too.
The second half of the day generally mirrors the first. In addition, they are also the time when the shared decision making processes central to our pedagogy take place. One day a week there is a general meeting, open to all, where we address issues, propose solutions, and make decisions about our collective life. On other days groups with responsibility for specific areas of community life e.g. animals or sports, meet and make decisions. The message is clear; this world belongs to us, and it's up to us what we make of it.
The day ends with tidying up; with freedom comes responsibility. Young people share ownership of all of our spaces, materials, and resources. This comes with the explicit responsibility to look after them. Exactly what this means and what this looks like is often debated and discussed, and evolves over time. The basic principle, that the way we use our freedom must not limit anyone else's right to do the same, is beyond question.