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Peter Curtis Statement of Claims
I want to make a positive difference in student’s lives. Now in my sixteenth year of teaching I
have worked in a variety of different but equally fascinating jobs; the first as a sailor and
photographer in the RAN; then amongst others, the community arts sector; and lastly as a
professional cook. Travelling to Spain and learning the language, my mature-age entry into
university and then school teaching, are all experiences that continue to open up to worlds of hope
and possibilities. The struggle to learn I understand; reflecting on my own very ordinary, and
somewhat neglectful school experience. In my life I have associated with many and diverse people,
and then meeting the challenges of university study, these are experiences that have given me
useful insights into learning that I will always draw on in my teaching. I continue to be an active and
engaged learner having completed a Graduate certificate in Early Childhood Education, and I am
currently completing a Graduate certificate in TESOL. My love of language, and literacy, and my
studies in EALD, are key areas of my professional engagement, while early childhood development
and education is also equally a passion.
Good, trusting relationships are a prerequisite for learning productively together in the classroom
and as a school. Schools are a community, and education is a reciprocal partnership between
teachers and students, and parents and carers who are vital to this partnership. Education opens up
and expands the worlds in which to learn and think. Our desire to know, ask questions, and seek
answers underlies the key purpose of all learning. Good schools support productive classroom
environments, which along with our awareness of a student’s personal needs, provide the essential
conditions for creating spaces where strong learning relationships can flourish.
My preschool and early childhood practice is influenced by Reggio Emilia’s theory and
practice, which are in accord with intentions of EYLF, as too the play-based ‘Walker Approach’, and
Vygotsky’s theory, the Zone of Proximal Development. Kath Murdoch’s inquiry approach has always
informed my teaching, as have many others too who work in this tradition. I am also an enthusiastic
advocate and practitioner of Philosophy with Children, a method that privileges oracy and dialogue
to develop deeper, critical and caring thinking.
The presence of the students’ voices are critical for developing good learning habits, and we learn
these best when we are the subjects central to creating a learning community. It is these needs that
inform our purpose. In such a community we can co-construct with students the understanding
that productive learning encourages dispositions that can assist them to self-regulate, and work
independently and cooperatively. In this context I believe restorative practices support a
framework, or approach, that enables and encourages intrinsic motivation, which is a self-critical
and reflexive attitude for both students and teachers, and thereby too, avoiding an over reliance on
extrinsic rewards and punishment.
Education from the early years and beyond is about creating imaginative and stimulating
places to develop our minds; so that we may all have a rich intellectual life. Intellectual activity and
learning is driven by curiosity; every child wants to know why? Learning and teaching is a
reciprocal relationship, a dialogue with students, their peers, and their teachers. Students bring to
school their experiences, beliefs, and knowledge, and we need to take account of these external
influences. We are at school for only ten percent of any one year, we need to think and consider
carefully how this precious time is used.
Motivation to learn is driven by meaning and purpose; stimuli, problems, puzzles, these all provide
the ground for expressing ideas, exploring possibilities, and understanding and taking-on different
points of view. We read, write, make, draw and paint when we have something we want to say.
Relationships are essential to appreciating and using student’s experiences to assist us in
differentiating learning and teaching. Holistically understood, learning and teaching for diverse
needs acknowledges that different experiences spark different ideas and ways of thinking, and
acting and behaving. ‘Stronger Smarter’ (http://strongersmarter.com.au/) and ‘8-ways’ aboriginal
pedagogy have provided me with other ways for thinking about and applying differentiated
approaches (http://8ways.wikispaces.com/home). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history,
and our settler history, is an aspect of learning and teaching that needs to be continually redressed.
Peter Curtis Statement of Claims
The natural and human environments, the arts, and sciences provide rich content, which I
endeavour to include in student’s literacy, numeracy, and imaginative play. As a practitioner of
Philosophy in School I encourage the skills of respectful dialogue between the students themselves,
and myself. Associated skills of speaking, listening, and thinking are critical, and support students’
further engagement with literacy and numeracy, learning to be a learner, and thinking about their
A classroom that enables the exploration of materials, shared experiences, and values children’s
ideas and interests is how trusting relationships are made. Learning is a matter of cognition and
skill acquisition, and of skill strengthening and improvement. Play-based learning, inquiry,
investigations, and projects, emerge out of curiosity and sociability. Inquiring approaches to
learning and teaching provide new opportunities for constructing knowledge, connections and
relationships. I regard myself as a co-inquirer working with students, clarifying our thoughts, and
finding out more through further research. This research unfolds as students and adults share
experiences, questions, and knowledge. By seeking ‘experts’ - peers and adults alike, we extend our
We are the authoritative adults and our thoughtful judgments are critical to the process of
learning and assessment. Who, what, and how we assess is intimately linked to what we believe is
the purpose of education. For example, formative assessment -FOR and AS learning - is integral to
inquiry processes. Students’ and teachers’ should be engaging continually in reflection, and
feedback on what we do when we are learning and teaching, and understanding how these
processes can enrich formative assessment, and quality summative assessment tasks.
When planning for probability and possibilities, I aim to construct genuine connections
between the student’s interests and the area, or topic of study. Considering also, the relevant skills
relating to inquiry processes; reasoning; planning and organisation of information; and the
translation and transformation of new knowledge. Student learning is intimately connected to their
social and emotional needs and best met by engaging with the restorative process; philosophy
allows for deepening the learning intentions that sit in front of psychological concepts such as
habits of mind, and a growth mindset. Learning to explain, to predict, and identify cause and effect,
or coincidence, means and ends, and limits and consequences are complex developmental
proficiencies that can only be realised with the full voice of all those in engaged in the life of a
school. A humanist education is understood holistically, and is the means to meeting the social and
democratic expectations of the school, and the society, and our diverse communities.
My work ethic is driven by my belief that schools can be truly responsive to the needs of
students. Innovation and transformation require us to take risks, ask difficult questions, to be
willing to consider, and reconsider. I have had many different teaching experiences which I believe
has made me into an intuitive, innovative, flexible and responsive practitioner. I have taught every
year level from preschool to Year-6. Most recently, at Namadgi School, I was one of a wonderful
team that established the preschool including an off-site campus. I taught, and lead a play-based
program here for three years. I have taught science to students in the primary LSU, and now I teach
150 students across Years-3 to 5 in the kitchen garden, and work to make connections to related
chemistry and biology concepts, and as well, the meaning of biodiversity and sustainability. I take
extension Philosophy with a Kindergarten and Year-2 group, and with a group of Year-3 to 5. I teach
Spanish language as an elective.
I have demonstrated my ability to organise and develop infrastructure and programs. In the
last five years at Namadgi School I have established the garden and outdoor learning spaces in the
preschool. I continue to develop, and manage the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. I
successfully initiated the appeal to our school community for support of the program by donating
the means to run a kitchen and garden. I have developed a Science Scope and Sequence from the
Australian Curriculum that corresponds with the activities of the kitchen and garden. I passionately
believe that a community kitchen garden, involving and evolving from the community, helps the
school’s development, and our outreach, and as well, nourishing the community.
Peter Curtis Statement of Claims
I have developed a framework for an action research project that I would like to pursue;
questioning and researching into how we can further develop students’ self-understanding as
learners, and further engaging students, and parents, in their learning by using a restorative
practices approach. I am interested in exploring my idea of ‘restorative counselling’ for developing
differentiated and engaging teaching and learning.
I know I can make a valuable contribution to your school’s objectives, by contributing productively
to teaching teams and the school community. A school where we can all learn, grow, and be happy.