First Rural Waldorf School Opens In India

January 24, 2011

by Arundhati Ranade

India’s first rural Waldorf school comes up near Mulshi. Here, students have no bags or textbooks, but are given a wholesome education — heart, hand along with the mind!

Here, study books and school bags are replaced by playful learning. This is what an innovative education system is providing to rural kids. Children in Sadhana English School can be seen weaving, knitting or dancing along with their classroom studies. The internationally-renowned Waldorf education system has made this possible. The first Waldorf school in rural India has begun near Kolvan Valley in Mulshi.

Sadhana School, situated in Kule Village about 15 km from Paud, is surrounded by hills. A small rose-coloured school building can be seen from the road. German educator Ute Meuser currently provides guidance to the school to establish a Waldorf education system.

“I’m not like other foreign educators — here to show India how to teach in a westernised fashion. The Waldorf system expects deep-rooted cultural aspects to be an integral part of education. Children will learn from experience and the teacher here won’t insist, press or beat any student. It’s a natural learning process we want to follow, involving spiritual growth with wisdom. Just gathering information and reproducing it is not education,” said Ute.

Ute Meuser has been a Waldorf teacher for 20 years and volunteers at schools in Germany and India. She is an Eurythmist (Eurythmy is a form of dance or movements of awareness). “I’ve been to Nepal and Ladakh for training,” she says.

The Waldorf curriculum is based on natural learning and believing multiple intelligence. It’s a system which considers learning through all senses. So, skills like drawing, painting, dance, play, music, weaving, acting, reciting which are generally termed as extra curricular activities are very much part of the curriculum here.  “We don’t follow any curriculum till Class V.

The class structure is not rigid. There is no examination till Class V and so if any student takes time to understand s/he can take his/her own time to understand it.”

Stressing on the sense of culture in the process, she says, “The process of teaching is never A for Apple. A doesn’t even look like an apple. Instead, our teacher narrates a story every time. For example, a story of a bear is told and gradually a bear is drawn on the board to form ‘B’. Students will remember the story and not mug. The story has to be culturally known and rooted,” she says.

When asked why skills like knitting and weaving are taught, she said, “Every act teaches something. Weaving is an exercise for one’s fingers, it will enhance the skill of the fingers and hand and improve concentration. Similarly, the see-saw and swing teach students balance,” Ute explains.