The harmony curriculum & project is based on a book by Richard Dunne about nature and the principles which exist in the natural world: interdependence, adaptation, diversity, oneness, cycles, health, geometry, and how they can guide us in the way we live, individually and collectively.
It is an approach to education that promotes learning from nature, in addition to learning about nature and in nature. By structuring learning in this way, children are better placed to develop a more connected, systemic way of seeing and understanding the world and their place in it.
The harmony curriculum uses enquiry-based learning to help children contextualise and bring together different subject skills and knowledge through what is being studied.
This year, we have begun to look at how we can enhance aspects of our school curriculum, namely history, geography and science, and link them with the principles of nature. Each half term, learning will be linked to an enquiry question based on one of these subjects. At the end of the half term, classes will share a “Great Work” which is an opportunity to showcase their learning to a wider audience, such as parents, a local group or the wider community.
To give further real-world context and purpose to learning, a “Partner in learning” will be sought to enhance the half term’s topic. These are organisations with particular expertise in a given subject, such as the Rainforest Foundation UK, and classes will look to enrich their learning by making links with them.
The Principle of Interdependence – Everything is connected
The principle of interdependence helps us to understand that everything is connected. We see these inter-relationships at work through ecosystems where every element of the system has a value and a role to play, and also in our own communities when they work well. The principle of interdependence also reminds us of the importance of good relationships if we are to work well together and the values we need to live by to enable a collaborative approach to learning to be successful.
The Principle of the Cycle – Nature works in cycles
The principle of the cycle teaches us that nature works in self-sustaining, self-limiting cycles. When we learn about nature’s cyclical systems, we learn that they are never-ending and create no waste or pollution. This is a model for us to replicate if we are to reduce and ultimately eradicate our wasteful ways. So, we teach about cycles because the more our children understand the cyclical nature of life and learn about nature’s cycles in their different forms, the more they are likely to think about how to align their own practices to the idea of the cycle.
The Principle of Diversity – Diversity is a strength
The principle of diversity is about celebrating difference and realising that diversity occurs throughout nature and it is a strength. Therefore, we consciously promote diversity in what we do; diversity in one another, in our cultural heritage, in our learning outcomes, in the food that we grow in our green spaces, in the uniqueness of all forms of life. If we want our young people to grow up able to appreciate difference, we need them to understand that diversity is something to cherish. We nurture diversity in their leadership, pupils lead different aspects of our school such as The School and Eco Councils Crew who develop their own projects of change.
The Principle of Adaptation – Adaptation is essential for us to survive and thrive
The principle of adaptation teaches us that just as nature has been brilliantly adapted to its place through millions of years of refinement, so it makes sense to adapt our learning or at least key elements of our learning to our place. Through this idea of adaptation, we can find ways to connect learning more fully to the idea of local and the communities in which we live, to learn more about their history and traditions, what it is that we value about them and what we might want to change. It opens up opportunities for our young people to be designers, to consider how our place might be adapted into the future to make it a better place to live. Importantly, it provides opportunities to connect to those in our communities who have wisdom, knowledge and expertise to share with our young people. When this approach works well, it builds a real sense of belonging.
The Principle of Health – We all need to be healthy
Nature teaches us health. We all need to learn what it means to live healthy lives. It therefore makes sense to put health at the heart of all that we do. We can learn about health in our play, in our relationships, in the food that we eat. We can also learn about health in terms of the air, water and soil and what that means in terms of how we run our school, for example ensuring we recycle as much as possible, paying attention to our environment and becoming increasingly more organic.
The Principle of Oneness – We are Nature
The principle of oneness reminds us that in all that we do, we also need to learn how to be, to find a sense of peace deep within us that enables us to live with well-being at the centre of our lives. In nurturing an ability to be still and present, to connect to something deeper, we are building a sense of oneness with the world.
The Principle of Geometry – Nature has a Geometry
The principle of geometry and beauty is about learning the patterns and geometry of nature that exist in us and around us. This study of the patterns of nature and how they are replicated, for example, in architecture, mathematics and art encourages new perspectives on the world and how we learn about it.