Portrait of the future
One person at a time, transforming the lives of many. For more than 50 years Waldorf education has been quietly at work in South African society, placing singular value on each child in the context of his or her peers. Teachers incorporate creative expression across the learning disciplines, presented according to appropriate developmental stages of the child. Over and over in the early grades students experience through multiple mediums the power of story -- traditional African intsomi, myth, legend, history, fairy tale, and so on -- as a means of internalising broad truths, and come to conscious engagement with basic elements of what it means to be human in the noblest sense.
Zenzeleni learners, ages six to fourteen, come to know the classroom as an active encounter of the senses, cultivating an attentiveness to one's teacher, balancing form and freedom, and practising rhythms of learning through cycles of three week learning blocks. For example, students create their textbooks from scratch, first crafting the alphabet letter-by-letter, then sentences, then more and more complex descriptions of the world, as each year unfolds.
The outcomes of this approach are far-reaching, both for the individual and for society. At Zenzeleni the stage is being set for students, like the boy pictured here, to approach life not only with head knowledge, but balanced against emotional maturity and willful activity, enveloped in strong moral fibre.
Introduction to Zenzeleni: A special kind of education
Zenzeleni was founded in 1999 by the Centre for Creative Education, as part of its strategic mission to facilitate Waldorf-based schooling across the many strata of South African society. Today the school ranges from Grade One through Grade Seven (lower and upper primary), with a student body of about 250 learners. In 2007 we celebrated the third Grade Seven to graduate from the school!
At Zenzeleni lessons are taught in an interesting way, so that the children enjoy their school days, exhibiting an eagerness to learn. The lessons are lively, drawing the children into a fullness of activity. Our specially-trained teachers know that a child learns not only through her head, but also through her heart and hands. Therefore the lessons include artistic work like painting, drawing and music, ring games, drama and crafts. Waldorf education empowers children with true knowledge, creativity, and the ability to take initiative