Whether pupils are studying photosynthesis, or understanding the difference between net weight and gross weight, our teachers are expert at bringing learning to life. With experiential learning playing a key role in our programme and our campus’s idyllic setting, it means that twice a year the whole school can get involved in the annual grape and olive harvests. Both events provide a fun and highly memorable spring-board to learning.
Castelli hills’ volcanic soils are rich in minerals that the olives trees and grape vines thrive on. Our hot dry climate is perfect for these fruit. Our local economy is dependent on wine and olive oil and harvest time is a traditional community activity.
Vineyards and olive groves making up over a third of our campus and over the eight years students spend with us they experience and reflect on how team work and coordination are key to organised agriculture, a fundamental prerequisite of all civilisations. How the chloroplasts that use the sun’s energy create complex sugars. How the olive trees use oil to prevent water loss. How the yeasts used sugars and water to convert these in to the alcohol content of wine. The ancient, traditional and modern approaches to wine making and olive pressing – there are just so many parts of the syllabus that can be introduced and explored.Experiential learning is the process of learning through doing and then reflecting on what they have produced or learned. It was originally developed by the philosopher Aristotle, and in more recent years has acquired names such as the Kolb cycle.
Experiential learning at Castelli is complimented by a family of related approaches such as collaborative learning, where students work together in groups to achieve academic and social learning goals, inquiry and active learning. Lessons at Castelli are planned and structured to put the individual at the centre of the learning process and encourage them to be active in what they do.
So as well as the fun of harvesting olives and grapes, and turning these into oil and wine, we also run Earth to Table activities throughout the year, Science and History fairs where students research, develop and deliver interactive stalls covering a range of topics from their syllabus, and of course our Harvard Model United Nations trip, in their final year with us, to name but a few.