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How is Kinma different?

The first perspective is that of the children at Kinma. When asked what makes the school different and what they like about the school, they invariably answer along the following lines:

  • We can call the teachers by their first name
  • We don’t have to wear a uniform
  • We don’t have to wear shoes
  • We can climb the trees

These responses certainly capture from a Kinma student’s viewpoint, some of the differences.

Next I looked from the perspective of what I term, ‘have and have not’. More particularly, what Kinma has that most schools do not and what Kinma does not have that most schools do! My take on ‘have and have not’ are listed in the table below.

Kinma has: Kinma does not have:
  • Tinkering days
  • Choice afternoons
  • Morning flow
  • Class meetings and whole school meetings where students have a voice and a vote on issues of relevance at school
  • A communal kitchen open to students
  • Regular bush walks
  • fences
  • gates
  • a school bell
  • lines
  • rewards
  • punishment
  • homework
  • a staff room
  • testing


Again, while these capture aspects of the difference, I still felt there was more.

Finally, I realised that the real differences lay in the small things, the everyday moments that often go unnoticed. To paraphrase the author Patrick White ‘the extraordinary experience of Kinma lay in the ordinary’. ‘Ordinary’ moments like:

  • a child feeling free to take you by the hand to enthusiastically lead you to some exciting discovery of their own; or
  • a teacher, feeling free to put an arm around a student in need of comfort after a fall; or
  • the simple pleasure of enjoying lunch with students at the communal tables for staff and students.

Overall, the approach to teaching at Kinma feels natural, the way it should be, both in terms of the relationship between student and teacher and the way in which lessons are conducted. Donning the mantle of teacher at Kinma does not call you to deal with children in a way that is different to how you would deal with children outside of school.