Saturday, 09 September 2017 10:51

Why Chiron Plus

Patrick White2

 In 1968 we were three very young teachers working with students who were supposed to be developing as young adults. But their development, we observed, was being hindered by the traditional authoritarian system of education.

We wanted to create a better learning environment where young people could develop as responsible and self determining individuals.

In 1969 we did.  Supported by Metropolitan Business College (a major private education provider before the government Technical Colleges) Chiron College was created.

It wasn't based on any existing models or philiosophies. We weren't aware of the progressive movements in the 1920s and 30s. It was simply based on our own observations and awareness of the need for change;  change valuing the innate good qualities of young people.  We often said we wouldn’t really know how successful our approach was until students in later life could look back and evaluate their experience.

The first newspaper article about the college appeared in November 1969 that year. It ends with the comment made by Professor John Loewenthal from Sydney University “If you achieve what you set out to do, and I feel that you should, the you will be filling a huge gap in educational institutions in New South Wales” Sunday Telegraph November 1969.

Over the following 7 years positive coverage continued in Newspapers, Magazines and on Television, and we were invited to give talks on innovation in education at Universities and Colleges in Sydney.

Like most progressive schools Chiron didn't survive the return to conservatism by the 1980s. And the stories of only a few of these progressive schools have yet been told.

However in 2010 browsing on Facebook I came across the Chiron College Birchgrove group. Here after almost 40 years the time to hear what students had to say about their experience had arrived.

Their comments (currently being uploaded onto this site) reveal first and foremost their individuality. Their experience at Chiron had enabled them be themselves and make their own choices.

Why Chiron Plus ?

Around the same time there was growing advocacy for a new system of education with new core values.

Values like those on which Chiron and Others were developed.

ChironPlus provides an Opportunity for more Australian Experiences to be Shared

Voices Supporting Advocacy for Positive Change Today

Published in Why Chiron
Thursday, 24 August 2017 11:59

Finding Like Minded when Looking Back


For more than a decade Sir Ken Robinson has been recognised around the world as a visionary, advocating for creative approaches to learning in an environment that nurtures individual growth.

Reading his books and listening to his inspirational and entertaining talks on YouTube I hear echoes from talks we gave about Chiron College back in the 1970’s in Sydney.

We spoke against the traditional authoritarian system advocating for a new approach that nurtured individual aspirations and self–determination in a learning environment that was part of the real world not an isolated institution within it.

We weren’t alone.

Other innovative schools had started up around the same time. Each were quite unique but with common core values. In 1975 two Teachers College students did an assignment reviewing ‘alternative’ schools. They came to the conclusion that

“In practice, theories of alternative schools seem to work out as a broad basis for learning experiences…A great variety of material is being learnt-dictated by the interests of the students, and including topics taught in traditional style schools. Emphasis is placed on the individual's motivation. Students learn what they want to learn. The aim is to create an open free environment in which continuous learning by all persons involved may take place – open meaning flexible, and free meaning a climate that fosters creativity, spontaneity and a desire for learning. In the alternative school, the aim is not to have children learn what adults tell them, but to help the child to learn how to think for himself.”  read more

During this time the NSW Department of Education became interested in Chiron College because they’d observed that Chiron students who chose to continue their education at tertiary level continued to perform well which wasn’t always the  case with students from traditional schools. Curious to know why Sydney Teachers College sent some trainee teachers to Chiron for their practical sessions.

The Universities in Sydney were also interested and invited us to give talks on innovation in education.

Around Australia there are students, teachers and familes who were involved in alternate, progressive, innovative, experimental , … schools.

Their voices if heard would affirm

that many of the approaches proposed by advocates today



Published in Advocacy
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