1938 • Clive knows Best

38 best clive janet 2

Left: Best Overend in his Type 37 Bugatti
Centre: Clive Nield with students on a field study
Right: Janet Nield

Best Overend designs a school for Clive and Janet Nield, who have sixteen acres and a wish for good. … It won’t be just another school. … [It] will be a model of the world as one might wish it: a small community in which the learners and the teachers act as citizens. One child one vote, a teacher’s vote being equal to a child’s. While the old schools merely drill and fill, the new school will experiment with living. [RED, pages 68–69]

38 (41) KoornongPmentInPIXmag

The school’s parliament meets in the drama amphitheatre at Koornong. [Pix, 4 January 1941] From Pix magazine’s caption: “At this meeting of Koornong School’s Parliament, founder Clive Nield (standing) had to justify his action in ‘withholding funds’ from the co-operative shop. He pleaded the chaotic keeping of [accounts]; they appointed auditors. Young president, secretary are on stage of open-air theatre. … This Parliament debates school management and, by majority decisions, imposes rules on all.”

Best Overend’s plans for the school buildings passed through a number of modernist styles. Here is his first sketch for a classroom, in Ocean Liner style and probably to be built in concrete:

38 k class P&O

The finished timber buildings blended with the site. [Sketch and photograph from Tronn Overend collection]

38 lab photo fr below >

The Nields’ residence had a flat roof where open-air classes could be held:

38 nield res sketch >

Certainly there’ll be no bells to ring at arbitrary intervals. No separation into tidy subjects. But that’s not the end of learning—or of work. Instead, each child is set a task to last a term, requiring work in all the disciplines at once. There’ll be—she’ll see to it—real purpose and research. It’s called the Project Method and will set laborious demands on children and on teachers. [RED, page 75]

38 (41) social survey

The “Project Method”: Students of different ages at work on a “social survey of their district, assessing and recording its population distribution, water supply, productivity, potentialities, flora, fauna; mapping its topography.” [Caption from Pix magazine, 4 January 1941]. This classroom activity, lasting several weeks, hardly unusual now, was called at the time “experimental”.

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