Peace Valley students practice working as a learning community and participating in our local and global communities. In practice, all 12 students will do many things together as a collective, in teams, in pairs, or supportive groupings. Many tasks are more fun when shared, including the tasks of learning and practicing what you have learned. With allowance for independence of thought and spirit and an understanding that sometimes doing things by yourself is what is best for the person and the project, a focus of the school will be on working together to make the world better.
Another aspect of community, which coincides with all other core values listed here, is that of participating in, and caring for the community by participating in ways to help others around us. This can mean volunteering to help those in need, working on a public project such as a community garden, park, or road clean-up, volunteering for community groups, or creating our own public works project as a school–it is important to participate in the world which we occupy and build positive relationships within our community.top
One way we make education real, is by combining many different approaches to thinking for problem solving. The idea is to look at a concept from the scientific, philosophical, literary, musical, artistic, social/historical as well as other perspectives as an integral concept, not several separate courses. This makes all curriculum more student-centered and realistic. It also allows for a student to take a social justice approach to problem-solving, and to question authority while applying its principles. Many aspects of each project or learning path will include an interdisciplinary reflection.top
Certain sets of skills and knowledge (like math, grammar, vocabulary, and scientific principles) must be practiced to be mastered. A student’s individual learning path will be set with many chances to practice that information which is necessary before applying it to problem-solving or creative activities. As integrative and realistic as our curriculum is, a sound knowledge base is the foundation upon which integration rests. The next core value, Vocation, addresses ways in which we can practice these skills while aligning them to a student’s individual passions.top
Our curriculum of integrated individualized education is largely student led. At Peace Valley, we believe that the higher purpose of education is to aid young people in exploring their interests and passions. Therefore, vocation will be a centerpiece. The student can work all foundational and integrational aspects around an interest. Most of the school’s resources will be spent helping students follow their dreams. This means mentors, community courses, internships, and anything else related to the student’s interest. An example is Molly’s 13-year-old niece who, for a few years now, has a very strong interest in horses and large animal veterinary practice. Why not focus the study of science, literature, mathematics, history, and anthropology on this interest? Not to mention art, husbandry, and writing? Any human will excel at something in which s/he is interested. At Peace Valley, we believe while we practice life skills; that practice should be meaningful to the individual.top
A part of each school-day will be spent caring for and maintaining our surroundings. The garden, farmhouse, workshop, animals, vehicles, landscape, compost, meals, school room, all are part of the student’s practice in responsibility. Simple tasks of clearing space, putting away tools for others to use, and mending what we’ve broken are important to keep us present, engaged, and compassionate. Chores will rotate based on need, interest, and integration with other learning.top
The culmination of community, integration, foundations, vocation, and stewardship is in our practice of creativity. At Peace Valley, students learn to make, upcycle, repair, or re-function something instead of buying it at a store. This goes from growing food, learning to make garments and other useful items, having artisan woodcrafters, weavers, potters, chefs, master gardeners, be a part of our community so that students, should the whole infrastructure dissolve or should they just choose to model their lives in a way that doesn’t include (or limits the use of) malls, amazon.com, grocery stores and the like, will have the skills necessary to live independent of the mainstream American ethos of consumption. This will be where students can make something to demonstrate what they have learned as well.top
At Peace Valley, we believe that developing, nurturing, and maintaining the mind-body connection is essential to self-discovery. Students will participate in a daily physical practice such as Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Capoeira, Aikido, Kung Fu, or other physical arts that connect the mind to the body. Our School will provide a master for whatever practice the student prefers. If competitive or other organized sports are an interest to the student, the school will foster a relationship with a team or coach at a local school or community group. While daily training for a sport is a wonderful way to use the body, a focus of the school group is to maintain the mind-body connection, so integrating that into daily workouts will still be a focus and a mentor relationship will be present for this purpose.top