Atelier Benoît Poirier d'Ambreville

My 2 Cents: Education for our Children

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Or, in my case , the children of my loved ones, since I have four nieces and four nephews. Well, although this year the main theme has been and still is the presidential elections we have seen great masses of youth and teachers crowding the central streets of Santiago speaking out for free education. Perhaps we´ve seen this less than two years ago, but, because of the elections this subject is still very powerful and is part of the main political discussions of today among the presidential candidates.

The young generation is pushing and pressing for it to be resolved after the next election. The theme has been focused on the expansive fees that the universities charge, compared even to the ones charged in Europe, and on the low quality of national schooling compared to the one of the private schools. Essentially very little has been said on how quality in education could improve, the debate has not yet been opened and seems to be forgotten among the mechanics of how to get the necessary grades to be able to follow on higher education.

As an uncle , I look at my sister’s children and think quite differently when it is about education. And of course, I always get ,” how do you know since you do not have any of your own?” First of all we are all aware that the parents have the most responsibility for educating them, then we go and look for the schools that seem to respond best to our ways of looking at life, looking and thinking of course, for the best for the children and their future. Educating is much more than grades, it is about developing skills, learning to think, learning to be social, learning to care for the others, learning to be creative and pro active and so many other important qualities. It is a tremendously vast, serious and responsible subject because our children will be the adults next and will be caring for our society and hopefully they will be able to achieve more and be better than us.

I was wondering if all of you parents, who live in Santiago, have found what you really wanted for your kids. For you, English speakers, the most obvious are the English Schools and there are quite a few here and most of them with a good academic menu and sports and arts. But there are people like me who still would like find something different and I went looking for it and asking around , with my clients too. Talking about quality in education, have you ever heard about Waldorf Schools? Well, if so I can tell you that there are a few of them here, very few, but one particularly attracted my attention, I am talking about the “Colegio Rudolf Steiner”.

Colegio Rudolf Steiner – Penalolen, Santiago
About two years ago, while the central streets of Santiago were flooded with marches about education. one particular march, in a less central street(and thank god my salon is located across the river ) called my attention for the following slogans that were floating above the crowd: Education for freedom instead of the Free Education that was in all of the marches.

Education for freedom… This is something worth thinking about. I then went looking for that school that was responsible for such a thought . And luckily enough, one of my client’s sons was one of the student there and I was able to visit, and talk with teachers there. What do they mean then with this great thought? First of all I was delighted to see the care the teachers show for their pupils with a solid knowledge on each step the children take in their growing process. They talked to me about a pedagogy that responds to each age, from the youngest child to the 18 years old youth who is about to leave the school. The most impressive part was that the pupils learn because they have learned to like learning, there is no putting grades on the works, everything is done because it makes sense and is interesting. All the subjects are taught like this and it works.!!! It made me wonder about my experience. Was I studying for the grades or for the subjects?… I must say that not with everything and a lot of what I supposedly learned I have forgotten, certainly because of this. To awaken the interest in the child is the key and that goes for every subject, even mathematics, physics, language, everything! The other main idea this pedagogy believes in is that every child is able to develop every skill, every capacity and is acquiring more and more knowledge and is more and more able to think for themselves to be creative, and self-dependent( refreshing when the kids in Chile are so dependent of their parents and the nana’s system ). This is the main goal and this is what Education for freedom means.

This pedagogy has its origin in Europe, in fact it derives from the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who, in the beginning of the last century opened the first Waldorf School in Germany. Today there are Warldorf Schools all over the world, in the United States, in every country of Europe, in Africa, in Asia, in Australia and here in South of America. In Germany they in fact have based a lot of their national pedagogy on the one of Rudolf Steiner.

Here this school is quite independent, it does not follow the national curriculum. This does not mean that students are not learning what we all expect, but it is done differently, and a lot more widely, with many other subjects like learning a musical instrument, arts and crafts, theater, dance… Developing capacities means looking at the child in his human aspect, with all the abilities that are there to be awakened and polished.

And because there are no grades, the students of that school are given national exams necessary to “officialese” their schooling. And the youths that leave the school, do they go to universities? Yes, they do, and very successfully. Also, they look for other specialities and even some go to further their education abroad. If you’ve gotten hooked on this pedagogy, like I have, ( now I wish I had a kid , or to be one again since I dropped classical education at 15 because of boredom and lack of the artistic part of it !). The school’s web page: http://www.colegiorudolfsteiner.cl/ is worth having a look.

Well, I hope you found this interesting, different from the usual debates of today (and my more lifestyle , fashion , beauty articles I share with you ). Although their goals are very respectful. I also hope I managed to make you wonder about the reasons why “Education”, and why “Freedom” and about what a great proposal it is when it is put together. And I wish that one day the national debates on education, here and everywhere, will be focused more deeply, more closely looking at the growing children because of the great responsibilities such a theme conveys, because life is more than “racing” for grades. Quality should be principal and it should be for everybody. The Chileans certainly are right to demand this.

Original article from I Love Chile.cl.

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