Learning is an Adventure at this Sydney School

Can an education be adventurous? One Sydney school believes that when learning is meaningful and relevant to the real world, it becomes an adventure.

“Great learning is an adventure, whether we are at school or trekking the Himalayas,” says Stephen Harris, Principal at Northern Beaches Christian School in Terrey Hills, on Sydney’s North Shore.

“What makes something an adventure? We often think about taking a risk, being challenged, stepping into unknown territory or trying something new. Adventure is hard to define; it can only be experienced.”

Adventures in life can be both planned and unexpected, and so can learning, he says.

“It starts with authentic learning experiences, grounded in the curriculum, designed to spark curiosity. That curiosity leads students to further exploration, solving authentic problems. At our school, we plan for adventure-filled learning, but we also make space for the unexpected, those serendipitous moments that lead us down interesting paths.”

What Kinds of Adventures Do Kids Have at the School?

Year 1 and 2 students were recently challenged with a brief to create a model of the school, design a bowling kit or design a hanging mobile for a baby’s crib. “As she experimented with 3D shape and design, one young learner was excited to discover that she could create a rabbit out of two spheres and carrots out of cones, as she built the animals for her mobile. She discovered that mathematics is an adventure in learning,” says Stephen.

“Adventures in life can be both planned and unexpected, and so can learning.”

Last term, Year 6 students braved an outdoor adventure camp at Coffs Harbour, pushing themselves beyond what they thought was possible. “An additional and important focus of the camp is to build positive connections and cross-cultural understanding with the Gumbaynggir people,” explains Stephen.

“They spent time with local elder, Uncle Mark, becoming immersed in the history and ancient culture of the people, and learning respect for their sacred ceremonial sites. The students also led young children at the local Indigenous preschool in games and other activities. They gained a new understanding about themselves and their new friends, developed leadership skills and learned how to connect with others with empathy and respect.”

Every year, Year 5 students at Northern Beaches Christian School throw themselves into the adventure of ‘Wakakirri’, a story-dance festival for schools from across Australia.

“This is not something where we select a handful of performers, but provide the opportunity for the whole grade, about 90 students, to be involved,” says Stephen.

“Each year, there is a theme that sends a powerful message. Previous performances have focused on environmental issues, rebuilding a community after the tsunami, and this year, the power of life-changing technology through the invention of the Cochlear Implant. Everyone comes together, students, teachers and parents, to make sets and costumes. It is truly a wonderful event. Hours of preparation and hard work culminates with the performance at NIDA Theatre in Sydney. It’s our aim that this adventure plants a seed of another adventure in some young students’ lives.”

Adventure Has A Serious Side

“Our society faces complex problems, ones that require new and innovative solutions,” says Stephen. “Learning is positioned in a context, because our students today need a suite of skills that can bring solutions to the problems that our will world face. Adventure is a value that we hold tightly at NBCS. We also value collaboration, a shared learning experience, and creativity. Life is an adventure and at NBCS we believe that this starts at school.”

This post is brought to you by Northern Beaches Christian School. To find out more or book a regular tour, visit their website 

Words by Natalie Ritchie

Natalie Ritchie
Natalie Ritchie