Waldorf in China, Part II


From Beijing we flew to Xi’an, a city that is rich in history, from the walls around the old city to the nearby site of the terra cotta warriors. Our generous hosts at the Xi’an Waldorf School arranged for us to see many of the sites before Agaf gave a talk on how Waldorf education meets the needs of the growing child. The school itself starts with kindergarten and goes through a combined grade four and five.

blackboard-Xian.jpgThe Waldorf School is in the suburbs of Xi’an, near an agricultural area that grows wheat and corn. The school has been able to rent a vacant school building and added a eurythmy room and apartments for teachers, but it will not be large enough to go through all six grades. Most of the children are transported by school bus and have free play from 3:30-4:00, which is when we were there.

children-Xian.jpgIt was good to see so many children playing together, enjoying one another and clearly loving their teachers. The talk we gave that night was held at a college in town and was well-attended by about 35 parents.

When we flew to Guangzhou, I discovered I had been invited to give a workshop on pregnancy and birth in Zhu Hai, about two hours away. So the next day they put me on a bus and off I went to this southern port city where the Pearl River meets the sea. It is right next to Macau (a former Portuguese colony) and only a ferry ride away from Hong Kong. Here in Canton province the weather is much more hot and humid than in the north of China!

I was met at the bus stop by Zhang Hao, one of the founding kindergarten teachers of the Chun-tong Waldorf school. She was thrilled to organize the workshop, as she had read First Teacher years ago and is expecting her second child in June. The next day there were 25 women and two men at the day-long workshop on birth to three.

I was also able to visit the school, which has two kindergartens, two playgroups, and goes through a combined class 4-5. They rent lovely rooms and garden space in part of an agricultural exhibition area (sort of like a fair grounds). They have also had wonderful mentors from Chengdu and Australia, and the result is a very strong Waldorf program with unique classrooms, beautiful grounds and lush vegetable gardens.

RBD-Teaching-in-Guangzhou.jpgAfter returning to Guangzhou, I was invited to give an evening talk in the course for Waldorf School Administrators. So I shared with them how Waldorf programs in America are working with parents through classes for parents, study groups, play groups and care for children younger than kindergarten, and so forth.

My final visit while Agaf was teaching with Chris Schaefer for five days in the administration course was to the kindergartens at the school in Guangzhou. Here I was able to observe in two classrooms and felt right at home. Waldorf works–worldwide!

Waldorf in Thailand

Abhinporn.jpgThe Waldorf early childhood teachers were such wonderful hosts for us during our visit to Bangkok! Abhinporn, who coordinates the Early Childhood training, met us at the airport and arranged sightseeing for us. She did her Waldorf training in Australia and has just taken a position in a pioneering school in the NE of Thailand.

There are two full schools in Bangkok, as well as Baan Rak kindergarten.  We were able to visit them all, as well as see some of the sites in Bangkok, including the Temples of the Reclining Buddha and the Golden Buddha.  If you are on Facebook, see my Thailand album for more photos!

Abhhisiree.jpgAbhisiree graciously hosted us in the guest house on the grounds Baan Rak kindergarten that she and her husband, Sato, run for 90 children ages 1-1/2 to seven. “Baan Rak” means “House of Love.” Abhisiree inherited the kindergarten from her father, and then she and Sato attended the early childhood training in Fair Oaks to convert it into a full Waldorf program. There are 5 classrooms, a meeting/eurythmy hall, beautiful gardens and even a pond with turtkles and koi. Some children start arriving at 7:30 and almost all are gone by 4 pm. We saw them doing many home-like activities: baking bread, folding the towels, and sweeping, lots of outdoor free play, and singing games.Four-Seasons-Silk.jpg

Abhisiree is also masterful at dyeing silk with natural dyes. Each year she goes to the mountains where they gather the materials and wood for the fires. I love the “four seasons” silks she gave me, as well as a beautiful purple and green silk shawl.Panyotai-Waldorf-School.jpg

The first Waldorf school in Thailand, Panyotai (Dawn of Wisdom) School, was started in 1996 by Dr. Porn Panosot and his wife Janpen and a group of parents and teachers. They have a full program from kindergarten through high school, and we were able to see some of the seniors finishing their woodworking projects, even though it was “summer break” from mid-March through mid-May. They have started another kindergarten program next door to the school, which will grow into having its

School.jpgWe also visited the other large Waldorf school, Tridhaksa, which started with a nursery group in 2000 and now goes through 11th grade. They have spent the last year building on their new site, and had just moved all the classroom materials there when we visited at the beginning of their break. They still have alot to do before school opens again in May, but they have a lot of support from very active parents in completing the move.


On Wednesday I gave a talk on early childhood at Baan Rak from 9-12 and 3-6, and parents and teachers came from around Bangkok, including about 5 fathers. I was so delighted to finally meet Suwanna. She discovered my book fifteen years ago when she was a student at Sunbridge College. She began to translate it then, and we have been in touch by email over the years, but had never met. She has three children now and has gone on to write half a dozen books on parenting on her own and does family coaching — via Skype!

Bangkok-Skyline.jpgI learned that many Thai families have both parents working and make use of nannies–often one for each child. Other than that, their situations and questions were much the same as parents’ in the US or in Mexico. As in America, First Teacher has been greatly appreciated by parents and has brought many people to Waldorf education, including being instrumental in the founding of several new initiatives in other regions of Thailand. I am grateful that Suwanna and I have been able to contribute to the spread of Waldorf education and parenting insights in Thailand!