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ALF Summer 2014 Bio

Abram De Bruyn

Hi, my name is Abram, I originally come from Australia and only stumbled upon the ALC a week and a half ago.  I spoke to Tomis after the BAM screening of “Approaching the Elephant” (a doco about a free school in New Jersey) and one thing led to another (AERO conference, a site visit at MFS, a crash course in the history of democratic/free schools).

I’m a strong believer in serendipity opening doors, knowing that “fortune favors the prepared mind”.  I’ve never worked within an alternative school model, though I have my own education journey that resonates strongly with the ALC model.  My degree was in Performance Studies and devising theatre/dance, the whole time I was there I wondered why I had to wait until my 20s to find a supportive educational setting where I could learn to be self-directed.  I’ve been seeking out valid experiences in educational settings as a teacher, ever since.

Until very recently (thank you AERO), I’ve felt a little lost in the woods.  My father is an experimental film-maker and academic and my mother is a Speech Language Pathologist, so teaching was always a path I knew I’d travel – though it took a while.

I’ve worked with adults in Australia and the USA, bringing a ‘Dogme ELT’ (materials light, student centered) approach to the ESL field.  I worked with very small children (18 months-7 years) at the Shanghai, JinQiao Disney English centre, for a year and a half.  For someone who had come from an anti-corporate, activist background, this was a huge leap into the unknown.  I wanted to learn, first hand, the limitations of an infinitely resourced corporate education provider.  Disney taught me plenty, not all of it bad. Also, the kids were adorable.
My teaching experience in the USA (ask me about it!) has totally galvanized my attitude/opinion of private enterprise and education and the directions we need to take in this “education revolution”.  I’m very excited to be working within a progressive-alternative community context again, where I hope to bring my experiences (not all it good) of arts and social justice activism.

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