The Acacia Waldorf School in Hacienda Sta. Elena is hosting the 15th Asian Teacher Training (ATT 2016) on April 25-29, 2016. The training workshop is aimed at preparing Waldorf teachers from all over the country and Asia for this coming school year. This is to faithfully reinforce the concept of Waldorf education across all classrooms in Asia.
Teacher and mentor will gather together in answering some important questions that often confront them in the classrooms.
How to work within the main lesson so that children can also learn the skills they need in daily life
How to work with the two educational tasks of teaching children to “breathe-in/breathe-out” and to “sleep/wake”
How to differentiate among temperaments
How to develop thinking, feeling and willing
How to use the concept of remembering / forgetting
How to realize the curriculum in the main lesson
How to help children connect with the world in a way that develops them as an individual
To sum it up, the workshop intends to answer the teachers’ question: “How do we create education as a daily composition?” This is a collaborative task between the child, the teacher and society.
In an African proverb: “It takes an entire village to raise a child.” With this note, the Waldorf community along with its mentors from all around the world are enjoining teachers and parents alike in this series of workshops.
These mentors include:
Mr. Paul van Meurs, an educational advisor who specializes in mathematics, movement, social development of children, art and didactics. He also coordinates the Pedagogical Section (part of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goethanum involved in anthroposophy-based education’s development) in Holland.
Ms. Gea Weeren, a school psychologist who works in Waldorf schools and gives advice to children with special needs and learning difficulties. Gea was a Waldorf teacher for 15 years and is a trainer for high school teachers. Her specialties are moving games and the social development of children.
According to Teacher Bernice Sandejas, "The ATT generally covers some of the anthroposophic ideas behind Waldorf education and human development, subject contents and their developmental rationale for a given class level, and artistic workshops. The days are structured much like the ideal Waldorf day that your children may experience in school, beginning with morning circle (singing and movement as a community to open the day), then "main lesson" (the philosophy/theory part) and academics (class subjects) in the morning, followed by practical and artistic workshops in the afternoon."
The Waldorf system is based on “Anthroposophy”. It was pioneered by German-Austrian Rudolf Steiner sometime between 1861-1925 and is based in the four basic principles:
Anthroposophy: A theory based on a philosophy of freedom. The understanding of “freedom” per se differs from its common interpretation where anthroposophy tends to focus on “freeness” from its original German text: Die Philoshie der Freiheit”.
In one of its inspiring quotes from a 1918 translation into English: “We no longer believe that there is a norm to which we must all strive to conform. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. The saying ‘Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus’ no longer holds for us. If only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development”.
Spiritual Science: This is the effort to develop not only the natural scientific, but also the spiritual scientific. It aims to bridge the gaps between the sciences and the arts as well as the religious strivings of man.
Anthroposophy also aims to “nurture the life of the soul in the individual in human society.”
While having the philosophy of freedom at its core, the Waldorf system nurtures the practical implications as “practical anthroposophy” or applied anthroposophy.
Speaking as a parent of a Waldorf student, what sets the system noticeably apart is their centered focus on each child as an individual. Last week, my wife and I were invited for a conference with Teacher Bernice and Teacher Laarni. It could have been one of the longest parent-teacher conference we have been in, spanning for almost two hours.
What struck us as parents is the level of comprehensiveness taken with our child’s development. While most schools would focus on academic performance and compliance, we found that sincerest care was taken in the holistic development of our daughter. Beyond academics and behavior, we thoroughly discussed our child’s artistic, natural and social progress. The teachers also had a keen insight into each child’s attitude, strengths and areas for development. The approach is focused on the child’s development as an individual in society.
The Acacia Waldorf school also provides each child with the enormous opportunity to thrive in a diverse social environment in a very natural setting. The Waldorf community also has a sense of connectedness which stems from how they focus on each individual’s place in the world. A child then naturally develops an awareness of how each piece of the world connects to each other with purposefulness.
As we looked through our child’s schoolwork, we could not help but be deeply engaged in the beauty of her inner self-being demonstrated in paintings, sketches, interpretations and writing. It was an enriching experience for parents to see a child’s development expressed from the beauty of her soul unrestricted.
Perhaps, many of our misconceptions were unfounded and based on external impressions. Many misinterpretations were based primarily on secular perspectives that have an aversion for the spiritual. On the other hand, there are aversions that are based entirely upon a fundamental view of spirituality through religion. What we find ourselves is that Waldorf education is neither of what is often feared. Anthroposophy is neither a religion or would it indoctrinate your child into being an anthroposophist. It can be human-centered but not to be confused with humanism. What it does not deny is its acknowledgement of the man’s spiritual nature and essence and thus developed in this environment through its natural expressions.
We came to Acacia Waldorf with the knowledge that each of our children needs to be treated differently and though there are questions which are now being slowly answered, we are very glad to have discovered this community. The ATT provides both teachers and parents to discover Waldorf education and interact with other members of its community. For more details you may contact the Waldorf School at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 13, Issue Number 1)