Curious Questions

A collection of curious questions that highlight issues or things that are unusual about education at MIC. Click on a header to see the answers.

Swimming Slowly

Why should schools teach their children to swim as slowly as possible?

In short because we believe that the value in swimming is as a survival skill. We teach our children skills which we think they need to have in order that they can cope with:

  • being on a capsized or sinking boat
  • being carried out from shore because of a riptide

Teaching guitar by ignoring our children

Have you ever noticed that the best 'lessons' you ever had at school were probably the ones that were not officially on the curriculum? There's something about the 'secret' knowledge that a passionate teacher would give out that is very appealing. The 'curriculum lessons' are almost by definition 'boring'. 

We hope that is not the case with our 'normal lessons'. However, we've been very sneaky with our guitar lessons.

Our master guitar player Master Tomasi, simply started playing the guitar, more to himself, but also accompanying some of the school assembly songs. One of our boys was keen to also bring his guitar to play along with Master Tomasi, but the latter made no big deal of setting up formal lessons. It was much more like an apprentice session.

Soon other children brought their own guitars to school and impromptu lessons would take place in the break period, in the lunch periods and basically 'outside' the normal lesson time. Master Tomasi would keep it really brief, 10 minutes at most, and suggest practice drills. There are currently about 8-10 guitar players within MIC, who snatch any moment they can to whip out their guitar and play it during school hours. So far we're rather pleased at how well our children are learning to play, even though we're making the best effort to ignore them.

Teaching Rotuman to Fijian Children

Language Classes at MIC

Learning about language at MIC, with a focus on communication skills.

This seems a bit counter productive to teach our Fijian children how to speak Rotuman in our second language classes, however there is a reason for this and it has to do with learning how to listen to someone trying to speak in a language other than their 'mother tongue'.

The current wave of migration of people around the world is unprecedented in the whole of recorded history. This means in reality that our children will encounter people who come from different countries. They are bound to make more than the occasional mistake when they try to speak their second language (ie our language of English). The best way to understand people who feel awkward, who feel out of depth and so on, is to put yourself in the same position. So learning a second language is a great way to experience first hand what it feels like to not have total command of the vocabulary, or the grammar, or the humour, or irony. 

So we teach Fijian to the majority of our children at MIC. However, about 25% of our children speak or understand fluent Fijian. This means that they would not get the same feeling of awkwardness if they joined our Fijian language classes. That's why they learn Rotuman.

Drumming teaches our children about numeracy

At MIC we do something called a 'Drum Circle'. In this we sit around in a circle and drum out rhythms to the rest of the circle. Each child has slightly different percussion instruments, which might even be clapping. A facilitator in the middle helps to synchronise the drum beats. 

Typically larger drum sounds tend to lay a steady and slower beat, and the lighter or higher sounding percussion instruments tend to go faster. Think of a bass drum in a band, compared to a tambourine. Now if the group is playing well, then actually the children have to learn how to keep time in fractions or multiples of their neighbouring drummers. So the deep drums lay down 1 beat per measure; the middle drums might go twice as fast; and the smallest drums might lay twice that speed again - ie 4 beats per measure. The children are concentrating on laying down an synchronised rhythmical performance; but we think they also happen to be learning about numeracy albeit in a slightly unusual way.


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MIC Sports Day with parents as competitors

We are very 'miserly' with our time spent with the children at MIC. Every opportunity that we can, we try and incorporate a learning objective. So we planned to do a sports day for the school; but with a dramatic difference.

Design the Games

The first issue was that we wanted the children to design the athletic activity themselves (or with our guidance). We gave them instructions that the games had to be fun - classic games that you may remember would include 'three legged race', as well as a 'sack race'. We invited the children to go beyond these games and to have competitors work in teams of 5 or more people.

Trial the Games

The children got to trial their games, got to try and give the other children who hadn't designed it, a go too. This way they could learn whether it worked or not and adapt the game.

Run the Games

Finally we had the children on the actual sports day, be the judges, time keepers and measurers of the different sports. Our competitors? - they were the children's parents.

Children monitor the athletic parents

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Computing Skills vs. People Skills

In this modern age of computing, 'iPhones', 'Blackberries' and related internet technologies, it may seem to some absurd that we do not follow a strong curriculum that teaches computing skills. We are not 'anti-computer' – far from it. However, we believe that the computer and associated technologies is just a tool. One that is evolving so rapidly that by the time the children are approaching their time to leave school and enter the workforce, anything they would have learnt today – will be obsolete.

For this reason, we'd rather spend the precious time we have teaching our children other universal skills such as people skills: learning to listen and really 'hear' what the other person is saying; learning to empathise; learning to speak and write clearly and communicate their own messages properly.

We believe that these very skills will enable them to acquire the future 'information & communication technology' skills that are relevant to their future.

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