Oliver Watkins

I started at Spirit of Play in 2014. It has been a really enjoyable experience for me. Every day I get to spend time with an interesting, creative, fun and growing community of children, their families and staff.

Before I lived in Denmark, I had heard of Spirit of Play and was inspired to hear of a school that has focuses on environmental education, play, creativity and respecting for Aboriginal culture, knowledge and connection to land. It is inspiring that this innovative school is growing. It shows what small groups of committed people can do.

When I first came to Spirit of Play I was really taken by the caring and creative teachers and children. I could tell that they were fully alive, with their eyes and minds open and that they enjoyed being at school.

Throughout my life I have been drawn into teaching roles as a result of my passion for sharing music and environmental awareness. As a musician, I became the musical director of Junkadelic, a junk percussion multi-arts collective that taught in schools all over Western Australia. As an environmentalist I found myself teaching at community gardens, and working with a wide variety of groups to engage in positive environmental action.

I love working with children. They have an amazing perspective of the world around them and always help me to see things in new ways. They are and will always be my teachers. They inspire in me the quest for new knowledge and teach me a lot about myself. The children teach me things every day!

My biggest challenge in this role has been to develop and maintain a good work/life balance. 2014 was my first year as a school teacher and I really wanted to spend time developing the diverse suit of skills that I believe a good teacher has. I spent lots of time planning and preparing lessons. This is what passionate teachers do, but to stain that passion a teacher must also learn to switch off. For me it is important to spend time with my young family (little Safi was born in March this year) – in the garden and playing music. Sustainability begins with ourselves and it is vital that we model a balanced lifestyle to our students.

I dream that Denmark will continue to develop as a creative cultural hub that cares for and connects with its surrounding environment and can provide for itself and inspire sustainable ways of living. I hope that Denmark and organisations like Spirit of Play can be a model of this for communities in the critical times in which we live.