“When we hear the word “diversity” we tend to think about racial and gender differences first. But there is much more to it, including differences in religious belief, language, wealth, education, family, physical features, dress, interest, skills, age, life-style and the list goes on…”
With this text above, Khanyisa Waldorf’s teachers introduced the theme of the morning – diversity – during the (Waldorf Teachers’) Regional Meeting held there on Saturday, 19 May 2018.
During our small group session at the Regional Meeting, I told the other teachers about the Well-being Meeting our school held at Siyakhula in Masiphumelele recently.
Fezile Mdzinwa, our Class 7 teacher, chaired this meeting and started by thanking the parents for all their hard work during the 2017 Spring Fair. The parents from our Well-being Group have legendary cooking skills and to everyone’s delight sold yummy traditional food.
Our Remedial Teacher at Imhoff, Tendayi Marwa, spoke to the parents about homework and how to support their children in doing their homework. She gave sound advice on how parents, who speak English as a second language, could support their children from the earliest years all the way up to Class 7.
During our discussions in the Well-being Meeting, parents and teachers shared stories about children noticing that they are different from others at school. One of the children noticed that his skin and that of his parents is different from most of the other children and parents. Other stories were told of children trying to explain to their friends that their houses in Masiphumelele are different. One child, in an attempt to explain the difference, said that in his house they have “only one couch”. One of our wise Pre-school teachers was on hand to support the different children in these explorations of how we are different from others. It was so good to hear that the children are lovingly allowed to notice how we are different and that these conversations are then seen in the wider context of their love and enjoyment of each other as friends. Noticing that we are different does not destroy our friendship and love for each other. In some ways it helps us to become clear about our values. What we value in a friend is their kindness, sense of humour, creative play ideas, good crafting abilities and other skills….not their material goods. It was lovely to hear the same Preschool teacher share that the warmth of children’s connections overcome any differences they may have. Imhoff’s story is indeed the story of integration and the celebration of cultural and other diversity. It forms part of our founding ethos to include children from all the communities near our school!
Back to the Regional Meeting: All the teachers present spoke about the ways in which they help the children in their classes to embrace different ways of being. Good ideas were shared and strength gained all from hearing these stories.
If you are called to support children from economically challenged backgrounds in our school, please contact the Fundraising and Marketing Group. We welcome more parents to help us with our current drive to secure more funds for our Sponsorship Programme.
“Waldorf education, in its very nature, is a celebration of our common humanity rather than a focus on our separateness. Rudolf Steiner hoped to create citizens of the world with a consciousness beyond their own nationality. (Waldorf) education is indeed a worldwide movement. The curriculum is diverse in nature and rich in the teaching of may traditions and cultures along with instruction in foreign language.
The social nature of our classrooms builds the habit of inclusiveness, regardless of differences. We strive toward an appreciation for collaborative working and an understanding that each child has his own contribution to make to the whole.”
(From an article titled: Diversity at the Washington Waldorf School, https://www.washingtonwaldorf.org/site/assets/files/1001/diversity_statement_accreditation_writing.pdf)
Ester Ruttmann, Sponsorship Team