SFWS Science Teacher supports Waldorf Education in Africa

Habari! Greetings from East Africa!

Waldorf education is alive and well here in Kenya but also in Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and even Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Teachers from these countries gather at Rudolf Steiner School Mbagathi, located near Nairobi, to participate in Waldorf/Steiner teacher training three times each year. During this session, San Francisco Waldorf School’s upper grades Science and Resource teacher, Laurence Jaquet, held a three-day workshop for teaching chemistry and physics in grades 6-8 as part of the teacher training program. 

Thirty-five teachers attended. Even though the classroom was filled to capacity and the soft breeze through the windows barely kept the temperature tolerable, everyone stayed eagerly focused for the three full days from 9 in the morning to 5 p.m. Laurence maintained a healthy rhythm alternating between inside lectures and demonstrations and outside activities. As do our students, the teachers especially loved anything to do with fire! 

 

The teachers here are keenly interested in how to bring science concepts to their schools using Waldorf methods, i.e., through direct experience that leads to an understanding, even an “aha! moment,” rather than through purely book learning and memorization. For example, using red cabbage bought at the local street vendor as a pH indicator, Laurence had students assist in testing for acidity and alkalinity using common substances such as baking soda, vinegar, HCl, soap, and local tap water – which turned out to be surprisingly basic. 

 

 

Since the African teachers are quite tech-savvy, Laurence also shared much helpful material, including videos she had made for the SF Waldorf School classes during Covid distance learning. The teachers can later watch a replay of some of the more challenging experiments, such as the lime cycle in 7th grade chemistry or the electric motor in 8th grade physics. She also shared her course outlines plus copies of a complete set of 6-8th grade science main lesson books from some of the SF Waldorf students.   

 

The success of the science workshop exceeded expectations, and Laurence is being courted for an encore in the future. It was a beautiful example of Waldorf teachers enthusiastically sharing common goals around the globe. 

-Susan Cook and Laurence Jaquet

April 2022, Nairobi, Kenya