Saturday, 02 September 2017 14:24

Chiron Moves to Birchgrove


At the beginning of 1973 Chiron College was given the opportunity by the Metropolitan Business College (MBC) to be set up as an independent non-profit company.

We had to find new premises as the building in Dalley Street was to be demolished. We found temporary accommodation in Macquarie Place in a building that had been vacated for renovation.

MBC was willing to purchase suitable premises for us to rent but we were having difficulty getting council permission. As MBC was about to change hands they had to withdraw their offer, but continued to support us with legal advice.

Charles and Barbara Blackman’s son Auguste had enrolled that year. When they heard about our problem they took up the challenge.

It was their generosity that resulted in us moving to Birchgrove and they continued to play a committed management and creative role until it closed.

Here Barbara recalls how it all came about.  


Philip Benham (left) with student Mark Crocker (right)
and other students resting after helping with renovations at Birchgrove during the winter of 1973
photo: Richard Harris


Published in Chiron Supporters
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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