Posts

Getting Into Writing

The 4th/5th grade students were thrilled to trade in their crayons and pencils for ink. In Waldorf education, we make an effort to present new concepts within a context. As such, before the students received their fountain pens, we talked about the history of writing. Students were asked to think about how it all began: from making cave paintings using fingers and natural pigment, to selecting specific feathers for quills. This exercise tied into our current Ancient History block where we have been looking at the development of human civilization and the different advances which accompanied each period.

We first experimented with feathers which the students collected from outside. As it coincided with our studies on Ancient India, we wrote our names in the Hindi script with the feathers and ink.

Then, with some help from our handwork teacher, we selected bamboo from the school grounds, took knives and sandpaper, and created our own pens from bamboo. During the process, the children were asking, “Are we actually going to be able to write with this?” They were surprised when they saw how the ink first flowed up the tip and then how smoothly it went down on the paper. They couldn’t wait to take their work home to show it to their families.

Finally, the parents were invited to come into our class to take part in handing out each student his or her fountain pen. Students were reminded of the importance of caring for their pens and using a proper grip when using them. The students couldn’t wait to start writing!!

  • Written by Karin Pogharian,  4th/5th grade class teacher

Announcement from Joshua Wilson, founder of Escuela Caracol

josh

The past seven years have been a remarkable time of growth for Escuela Caracol. In this time Escuela Caracol has grown from a small playgroup to a full Waldorf primary school with two kindergartens — the first Waldorf school in Guatemala and the most established in Central America. The dream of bringing renewal to education in a region that has long suffered from violence lives and continues to grow and inspire others, bringing hope, confidence and capability to a new generation.

Escuela Caracol now has a strong team of 11 dedicated teachers. The first Guatemalan Waldorf class teacher, Andrea Arrivillaga, completed her training last year, and the first indigenous Maya kindergarten teacher, Marilily Mendoza, is finishing her training this year. Six other teachers are currently working on their Waldorf training. We have beautiful new classrooms, a base of over 50 sponsors, and a strong administration.

After seven years of intensive work, I am excited to announce that I am taking a sabbatical. For the next year, I will be living in Sacramento, California with my family. During this time I will be completing teacher training coursework at Rudolf Steiner College, taking care of my health, and dedicating myself to my family. We are expecting a baby in December, so this is an important time for us. This is also an important time for Escuela Caracol. The school is transitioning from the early pioneering phase into a period of organizational stabilizing. Like a 7 year old who begins first grade and breaks away a bit more from her parents, so too Escuela Caracol needs to walk on her own without her “parents” holding her hand.

This is a critical moment for Escuela Caracol, and your support is more important than ever. Stability is crucial in transitions like this. If you’re already donating, please continue your support. If you can give more, even better. If you are not currently participating in our community of support, please consider how you can help. It has been three years since Escuela Caracol raised the price of tuition, and our costs continue to grow along with inflation. The school still needs $50,000 to complete the academic year in November 2014. Plans for ensuring long-term financial stability are in the works, and details will be announced in the months to come.

The faculty and staff of Escuela Caracol fully support my decision to take a sabbatical year, and they are excited about what this new phase of development holds in store. Escuela Caracol continues to be a magical place that inspires people in both Guatemala and around the world. The work of our educational community is planting a small seed of hope for the children of Guatemala. Thank you for being a part of it.

In gratitude,

Joshua Wilson

August 2014

Alumna Family Returns to Help with Class Play

The Devoe-Talluto Family — Kristin, Jim, Sienna, Willow & Kai — came from Vermont to Escuela Caracol in 2009 as a part of their family sabbatical. They stayed the entire year and took with them memories for a lifetime. In February 2014, the whole family decided to come back for a visit using “pay-it-forward” money that they received. They were impressed by how much the school has grown, and were eager to find ways of helping out while they were in town.

One of their contributions while visiting was to design and help make the costumes for the 2nd-3rd grades class play. It was a short play based on the fable, El Velorio de Tio Tigre (“The Wake of Uncle Tiger”) by Venezuelan writer, Antonio Arraíz.

Click here to read more about and see some pictures of the play.

Thanks Devoe-Tallutos!

Central American Waldorf Kindergarten Teachers Gather at Caracol

Escuela Caracol is proud to be hosting this week the fifth annual Conference of Central American Waldorf Kindergarten Teachers with over 40 participants. The guest lecturers this year are Inés Spittler, from Peru, and Tamara Chubarovsky, from Spain. Inés is presenting the principal seminar on the 12 senses and their development in early childhood, and she is also leading a workshop on doll-making. Tamara is leading the morning rhythm, speech and singing, as well as presenting a seminar on the art of the word (working with Rudolf Steiner’s formative speech).

In these photos you can see an assortment of images from the week thus far.

Chalkboard Drawings

If you walk into any Waldorf classroom in the grades, one of the first things to strike you is probably the chalkboard drawing. Chalkboard art has become a time-honored tradition in Waldorf schools. It is how the teacher brings to imaginative life the content of the lessons. In a day when dry erase wipe boards (and their fumes) have taken over, Waldorf schools remain a sort of classic throwback to the days of chalk and slate. Dry erase boards, however, simply do not lend themselves to the artistic sensibility and emotional range that bright colored chalk can bring to a classroom.

It is also an important part of how the teacher’s own artistic activity — his or her own development and activity — relates both directly and invisibly to the child. Children experience great anticipation of the teacher’s next awe-inspiring image, which they later have a chance to recreate in their own books, in their own way. The images connect to the curriculum content and take the child deeper into the experience, through his or her feelings.

Here you can see a few of our teacher’s recent chalkboard drawings at Escuela Caracol. We cannot get slate chalkboards here, so we have to make our own using plywood and homemade chalkboard paint. Sometimes the grain of the wood is a challenge for the teacher, but the overall experience in the classroom is worth it.

 

You can also see the video of one of the most famous Waldorf Teacher Brian Wolfe in action With Some chalk.

Escuela Caracol in the newspaper “Prensa Libre”

DSC_0350

The national newspaper Prensa Libre recently published an article about Escuela Caracol and our pedagogic method.

We reproduce the text below. You can also read the entire article here.

Escuela utiliza sistema pedagógico Waldorf

Helen Estrella Celeste Porón Cuc, de 8 años, sale temprano de su casa, en San Pablo La Laguna, Sololá, para ir a la escuela Caracol, donde cursa segundo primaria. Camina hacia el establecimiento, a un kilómetro de su vivienda, en San Marcos La Laguna. Como las clases empiezan a las 8 horas, la niña toma mototaxi si va retrasada, ya que no le gusta faltar ni llegar tarde.

En la escuela Caracol, Celeste Porón comparte clases con 48 niños de comunidades de varios municipios de Sololá, que hablan kaqchikel, tz’utujil o k’iche’, y con hijos de extranjeros de Estados Unidos, Francia, Alemania, España y otros países de Europa que radican en Sololá.

La pluriculturalidad que se vive en la escuela Caracol no es su única peculiaridad, algo que la distingue del resto de establecimientos del país es también que es la única donde se práctica el sistema pedagógico Waldorf, que al contrario del sistema educativo tradicional, no es jerárquico, dirigista ni competitivo.

Sistema novedoso

El sistema Waldorf estimula la libertad, creatividad y el conocimiento desde una perspectiva integral y holística. Los niños relacionan lo aprendido con la propia experiencia, para lo que utilizan cabeza, corazón y manos.

El director de la escuela Caracol, el estadounidense Joshua Wilson, detalló que el sistema que utilizan es diferente: “Vivimos en una era de información. Todas las respuestas están a unos clics de distancia. Saber la respuesta correcta no es lo importante. La pregunta importante no es ¿qué sabes? Lo importante es ¿quién eres?”.

Wilson indicó que el sistema se enfoca en las preguntas: “¿Eres una persona que sabe manejar la información, cómo aplicarla de manera efectiva y responsable?”.

Según Wilson, otros cuestionamientos que deben responderse son: “¿Eres una persona con confianza en sí misma para manejar la vida con la voluntad de hacer algo, de producir algo? ¿Eres una persona que puede ver varios lados de un problema? ¿Una persona que puede seguir aprendiendo? ¿Eres una persona que se siente responsable al mundo, que cree en un mundo mejor, que puede imaginar un mundo mejor, y que se siente que puede tomar un papel en este mundo?”.

El maestro Erbin Samuel Quiacaín Sajvín contó que cada docente hace su propio currículum, y los niños elaboran sus propios libros, de acuerdo con la necesidad en el aula.

Las evaluaciones se llevan a cabo de manera técnica y con métodos de observación, para determinar el desarrollo del niño en su manera de expresión, aprendizaje, forma de actuar y relación con los demás.

La maestra Sandra Pérez, maestra cakchiquel, indicó que son ocho docentes y a los niños de primaria se les imparte danza, música, arte, jardinería, educación física, matemáticas y los idiomas inglés, español y kaqchikel.

Los alumnos locales son becados hasta en 97 por ciento, mientras que los extranjeros pagan colegiatura completa.

La administradora Mercedes Franco comentó que los padres de familia interactúan con sus hijos. “No solo vienen a inscribir a sus hijos, sino deben mantenerse cerca para participar en el desarrollo estudiantil”.

Manuel Tuch Sancoy, padre de familia, expuso que la educación que recibe su hijo es distinta a la que él recibió y tiene más enfoque en la naturaleza.

Trayectoria

Siete años  

La escuela Caracol está aprobada por el Ministerio de Educación y  es una de las más de 900 que   utilizan la pedagogía Waldorf   en 83 países, la cual   fue promovida por el austriaco Rudolf Steiner.

El director   Joshua Wilson  recuerda que la  escuela fue establecida en Guatemala en el 2007 por él y su esposa, Corina,  con el apoyo de  Nicolás Sacach Mendoza, albañil;  Amarilis Sancoy, cocinera, y Andrea Arrivillaga, quien este año se gradúa como la primera  maestra guatemalteca Waldorf. Para más información consultar el sitio www.escuelacaracol.org 

Escuela Caracol in the newspaper “Nuestro Diario”

Caracol-nuestro-diario

The opening of our new classrooms, was published in one of Guatemala’s newspapers. We thank everyone for their support and participation in our event.

Please see Página 52 en octubre 25, 2013 edición de Nuestro Diario

New Classrooms Grand Opening Event

IMG_5266S

We are pleased to invite you to the inauguration of our new classrooms.

We have organized several activities, such as music, food, Festival del Jocote and kite flight.

The event will be covered by the national media.

Come and share with us this special moment!

  • Date: Wednesday, October 23rd 2013 – from 9:00 AM on
  • Location: Escuela Caracol, Barrio 3, San Marcos La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala

Hike to the Rock & Other Activities

While our local river still flows from the rains, the classes are making hikes back in the valley to explore the river. Here you see the class 3-4 at the “roca grande”, also called the “elephant rock” sometimes. It is one enormous rock the size of a house with waterfalls on both sides. Other photos here include the class 3-4 visiting the Museum Tzunun Ya’ in San Pedro La Laguna, where they learned about our local volcanoes and ancient Mayan culture.

A Virtual Tour of Escuela Caracol

Discover a little about the environment in which the Escuela Caracol is located, and some of the spaces where every day our children play and learn.