Nature’s Principles of Harmony
The principles that exist in the natural world: interdependence, adaptation, diversity, oneness, cycles and circles, health, geometry and beauty, can guide us in the way we live, individually and collectively.
The ‘Principle of Geometry and Beauty’ will run alongside all our learning and provide the thread that underpins our model so that children develop a knowledge and appreciation of the world around them through the sacred geometry of mathematics in nature, plants and animals, architecture, the human body, art and artists.
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. Children have begun to develop the skills of geometry, direct by-products have been greater conversation, a very calm atmosphere, student concentration and enjoyment is clearly evident and children are beginning to link this new learning with the beauty of nature and mathematics. Staff too are involved in geometry sessions; an increased sense of well-being is another by-product. To see our Yearly Plan for the Principle of Geometry and Beauty, click here.
The following information is based on The Principles of Harmony (Richard Dunne, Head Teacher Ashley C of E Primary School, adapted from HRH Prince of Wales, Harmony, A New Way of Looking at the World).
There are seven principles of harmony that we will reference in our work and they are:
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. This approach to learning also helps them to see that to live well we don’t need to consume and throw away more and more. Rather, we need to create cyclical systems that work.
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 the essence of life and it is something to cherish. We nurture diversity in their leadership, pupils lead different aspects of our school such as The Eco Crew who manage our energy usage and recycling and develop their own projects of change.
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. So, when we plan out learning, the starting point is to see how we can link learning together to give it greater meaning, rather than teaching through separate subjects with little or no connection from one subject to another. We can still teach subject specific skills and knowledge, but the application is to something much more joined up. The principle of interdependence also reminds us of the importance of good relationships if we are to work well together and the values culture we need to create to enable a collaborative approach to learning to be successful.
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. If we believe health is fundamental to a good life, we need to find ways to teach health and practise health as much as possible.
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. When there are so many reports of stress and poor mental health in our young people, it is essential that we help them to learn how to cope with the challenges of modern life through times of quiet, peacefulness and presence. We need to nurture them as spiritual beings.