While I am away in November I will be living in the city of Guangzhou (pop. 12 million!) and working at a ‘new’ kindergarten that already has 8 full classes of children. In my time there I will be trying to distill and consolidate all of the gifts and experience that I have built up right here at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia – to harvest some of those many seeds and help them find root in the eager hearts and hands of new teachers, parents and children. I am so grateful to the colleagues, families and friends who have afforded me this chance to step away and to grow in my work and also in myself. I am also happy to have found a type of school where the learning never stops and even those of us with graying hair can widen our view on the world and then come back home with new seeds, freshly planted.
Posts Tagged ‘Waldorf Schools China’
Erin Semin, Lilac Kindergarten Teacher, is currently taking a sabbatical year from The Waldorf School of Philadelphia and is spending part of her “year off” consulting with developing Waldorf schools in China.
Anyone familiar with the block system in Waldorf schools knows that there is much appreciation here for the idea of working actively with something and then letting it rest and continue to work in the mind and heart in a different form. In the grade school our children take up subjects of study for a time, then these subjects ‘take a back seat’ and are taken and developed later in the year or even in the coming years. In its design this system is intended to allow the children’s own life experiences and developing cognitive and soul forces come into contact with an ever-widening scope of subjects and ideas. It also allows for seeds of experience to germinate when the children are ready for them- not necessarily when some outside planning body has decided they should do so. It is less well-known, though, that we hold this principle to be true not only for the children we educate but for each of us as developing people. The word sabbatical is a very ancient one- coming down from Hebrew and Greek roots; it means literally a “ceasing”, a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. Though it can take many forms, a Waldorf sabbatical is essentially a gift from the school community-a gift of time and space in which the inner and outer parts of the individual can find rest and rejuvenation to take up the work anew.This year I am the very happy and very grateful recipient of this gift of time and space. I have been granted a sabbatical leave and must say I have, so far, enjoyed every minute of it. When I was informed that a sabbatical year was possible it was clear to me that one great way for me to enrich and balance my very close-up picture of The Waldorf School of Philadelphia was to broaden my view and see as much of the greater Waldorf world as I could. Well, I was never one to listen to the wisdom of my Grandmother but perhaps when she muttered ‘Be careful what you wish for..’ I should have taken heed! I am about to embark- with equal measures of excitement and nervousness- on a trip to China where the development of Waldorf Education is about as bustling and fast-paced as can be. To give a quick picture, in 2009 there were 20 new Kindergarten and school initiatives in China. As of this year there are over 200 new Kindergartens with many of those that have been open for a few years growing into grade schools. The hunger for training and the support of experienced teachers has far exceeded the capacity of the one training center in China and for years some teachers have had to move abroad in order to find training.
This article was written by Erin Semin. We look forward to welcoming her back to WSP and to hearing more about her experience in China upon her return.