Category: Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools (page 1 of 2)

The Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools

{Excerpt from Carmen Gamper’s book Flow To Learn} Rebeca Wild based schools or RWB schools is an umbrella term Carmen created to identify schools that incorporate Rebeca and Mauricio Wild’s education approach. There are approximately 700 RWB schools across Europe and worldwide. These schools all differ slightly from each other, and you would know whether a school is an RWB school only by reading its mission statement (which usually also includes references to Maria Montessori), so they are not so easy to spot. It was Rebeca and Mauricio’s request to course participants that their names not be used as part of any school’s name because they feel each school is a unique entity that should have its own name and individualized approach. In addition, there is no official website about their work, and as a result, it is difficult to find information about it on the internet.

Math room

In RWB schools, children are supported to keep learning in a state of flow as they grow up. We achieve this by allowing them to choose their own activities in thoroughly prepared learning environments. Within the healthy boundaries of the school, children may play and learn at their own pace as their hearts desire. The myriad learning opportunities include time to explore the many hands-on materials such as Montessori math, language, and sensorial materials, pretend play and make-believe in elaborate doll play and block building areas, movement in their gym room and outdoors on the playground, tending to the gardens, crafting in the makerspaces, cooking and baking in the kitchen, working in the woodshop, resting on big pillows, snacking at the communal dining table, and communicating with each other and us, their teachers and flow companions / learning companions, about anything that is important to them.

Making stilts

Inspired by Montessori education, Berlin-born Rebeca Wild (1939-2015), and her husband Mauricio Wild (1937-2020) created an experimental school, the Fundacion Educativa Pestalozzi (informally known as the Pesta), near Quito, Ecuador, in 1980. The Wilds initially founded this school as a kindergarten for their second son, hoping to avoid the disastrous experience their rst son Leonardo endured until age 13. Needing an educational environment for both sons, the school grew to accommodate learners from preschool to high school. In this school, indigenous students learned alongside those from wealthy ex-pat parents.

In their yearly visits to Europe in the 1990s and 2000s, they held hundreds of workshops in which they shared their insights with thousands of parents and teachers. They sparked a grassroots movement of parent- and-teacher-founded schools across Europe and beyond. Many of their course participants traveled to Ecuador to visit their school The Pesta (the name derives from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, [1746-1827], a Swiss pedagogue and education reformer) to receive deeper insights into their methods. Here are some of the Wilds’ core messages:

  • The harmonious growth of a child is a natural and slow process. The task of the adult is to create appropriate conditions to meet the genuine, authentic needs of a growing child—not to try to speed it up. If as adults, we are capable of not interfering with a child’s natural growth, instead provide supportive love and healthy boundaries, we allow them to develop inner guidance and critical thinking skills instead of having to rely on someone else’s directions.
  • Based on Humberto Maturana’s research (biologist and philosopher born in 1928) the Wilds realized that every living system—from a single cell to a large group of cells, such as a human being—creates and maintains itself from within; it shapes itself (adapts) in accordance with and reaction to outer circumstances; this process is called “autopoiesis.” Love (supportive conditions) is the only driving factor for any living system to grow and learn.
  • Hence, adults must create environments where children can move, learn, and interact in alignment with their inner realities and in loving, non-invasive, supportive relationships with their adult companions.

The Pesta in Ecuador doesn’t exist anymore, but the over 700 Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools today in the world, mostly in Europe, Spain, and South America, are alive, well, and growing in number. Some schools exist only for a few years, for the founding parents to raise their own children there; others grow larger and exist beyond the initial founders to serve other children in the community. Some schools offer only preschool and elementary school; others also offer middle and high school grades.

Art studio

In the many European RWB schools, we witness that children’s natural, self-motivated joy of learning continues throughout all their school years because it is nurtured and supported. These children have time to grow up at their own pace, and they experience individual, natural, balanced development of their body, heart, and mind.

A Rebeca Wild based (RWB) school near Vienna, Austria

Founded by parents and teachers in 1990, the Rebeca Wild based (RWB) school, Lernwerkstatt im Schloss Pottenbrunn near Vienna, Austria is a renowned, innovative school, recognized by the state of Austria.
It is located in a beautiful, ancient castle that is surrounded by a moat filled with water. David Meixner, an experienced teacher and  learning companion at this school, generously provided a few photos, that I’m excited to share with you here.

There are approximately 100 learners ages 6 to 16, and they are learning, playing, and growing together in environments  prepared for their genuine developmental needs.
Learners are supported by skilled learning companions who are available whenever children wish guidance, help and inspiration.f Christine [david m] (19)
There are no classrooms as we know them from traditional school, instead there are a great variety of  learning areas where learners move freely.
These play and learning areas are prepared for:
– Pretend and role play
– Mathematics
– Language and Cosmic Education
– Kitchen / cooking
– Carpentry
– Outdoor areas with trees, pond, and playground.
There are additional separate environments for middle school kids.

Lernwerkstatt PottenbrunnThe prepared environments provide endless play and learning opportunities and create the foundation for learning guided by curiosity and joy. Through their worry-free attitude towards learning children develop boundless creative intelligence, solution-finding skills, and open-mindedness.

f Christine [david m] (24)
Here, adults create an atmosphere of trust and emotional safety. They help children during naturally arising conflicts and transform them into learning opportunities for social skills and developing even deeper friendships. There is so much more to share about this exquisite school. You can go visit, get a tour and even spend a morning with the learners: http://www.lernwerkstatt.at/

The innovative, heart-based practices at the Lernwerkstatt Pottenbrunn are inspired by Rebeca Wild. In order to facilitate creating schools like this all over the world I developed the New Learning Culture (NLC) school model.

How Children Develop Empathy

When we are born, empathy is not part of our skill set.
We still float in an ocean of oneness and cannot yet distinguish between “you” and “me.” We feel in union with our mother and our environment. As young children, our capacity for empathy expands somewhat, but our worldview remains largely determined by our age-appropriate, child ego-centrism. In our early years, we tend to believe everyone feels exactly the same way we do. But each time we discover a person feels different than we do, we learn that each of us are separate individuals with unique feelings. As we grow up, we are meant to develop empathy, which is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of others.

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Empathy is a crucial skill for living together peacefully, cultivating friendships, and working in teams. Through empathy, we willingly slow down to have someone else catch up, or stop our loud drumming because someone else’s ears are hurting. We take time to hear out our classmate and try to understand what she is saying, before blurting out our opinion. With the capacity to understand the motivations, feelings, and perspectives of others, we can make better decisions as a group and reach our goals together.

We can help our children cultivate empathy.
When we say, “Look at the dog; it seems like he is hurting when you hit him,” we help our children focus on the inner feelings of others to help guide their behavior. In this way, we play an important role in helping support the development of empathy. But here is the good news: it is not all up to us. Mother nature supports children in naturally developing empathy while playing with each other. Their internal drive for role play and pretend play leads children to playfully experience many different roles, naturally growing their awareness of the internal world of another.

Children love pretending to be someone else.
They joyfully take on the roles of teacher, student, mother, father, child, storekeeper, hairdresser, doctor, baby, cat, horse, princess, king, pirate, fairy, unicorn. In short, all they “try on” what they see in their environments and hear in stories. By “playing out” different roles children naturally experience the archetypes of human life: the betrayer and the betrayed, the hater and the lover, the excluded one and the admired one, the taker and the giver, the powerful and the weak one, the leader and the follower, the enemy and the ally.

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Through experiencing these different roles during play, children become familiar with the spectrum of emotions. The more they experience these nuances, the more empathic they become. However, role play only teaches empathy when each child feels safe during play at all times, and when each child knows, they can stop playing anytime they feel unsafe. This is part of our responsibility as adults caring for children.

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Learning companions / teachers are needed to make sure that each child can chose her own role joyfully, and that each child’s boundaries are respected. Learning companions develop a feeling of how and when to step in, support children during a conflict, or offer play therapy materials such as the sandbox. As learning companions, we walk the line between allowing joyful play to do the teaching, and stepping in when necessary to make sure the environment is safe and conducive for optimal learning.

Lindenschule in Austria: A School inspired by Maria Montessori and Rebeca Wild

Here is an example of one of over 600 Rebeca Wild based (RWB) schools in Europe. In May 2012, I visited the Lindenschule in Innsbruck, Austria. Steve, a board member and teacher, showed me around the elementary school environment. Here is what I saw…

A beautiful friendly house:

A spacious, natural outdoor play area:

A big dirt and water play area:

A super-inspiring arts and crafts room with plenty of raw materials available:

An elaborate block and pretend play area:

An indoor water play space:

Measuring and mixing containers:

The kitchen prepared so that children can use it independently:

A writing area:

A friendly and inspiring space for math, geometry, and algebra with Montessori and other hands-on learning materials:

Montessori math materials:

Montessori beads materials:

There were even more amazing environments…a huge indoor movement room, separate rooms for the preschool, an outdoor crafting and eating area…The environments are constantly adapted to the children’s genuine needs. Currently, over fifty children are part this school. Here is a link to their website www.lindenschule.at

I hope you are inspired! Let’s create similar schools here in the US! Get in touch!
Carmen
www.newlearningculture.com
Carmen@NewLearningCulture.com

Creating conditions to kindle curiosity and zest for learning

Children learn from their environments: The environment is a teacher – design it intentionally. You can put toys and simple art supplies on lower shelves, at children’s height. Useful toys are building blocks, with nature materials (seashells, pebbles, acorns…), miniature animals, cars, legos, marbles, dolls etc. Simple art supplies should include paper in various colors, pencils, washable paint, cardboard in various sizes, child-proof scissors, glue, buttons, needles and thread, wool, etc.

Offer hands-on learning materials: Children at preschool and grade school-age can learn practical skills (fine and gross motor skills, sensorial skills) and academic skills (math, geometry, algebra, language skills, grammar and more) almost effortlessly
and playfully with specialized manipulatives. Learn about materials and teaching skills developed by Montessori,
Steiner/Waldorf, ReggioEmilia, Froebel, Boris and Lena Nikitin, Elfriede Hengstenberg, Claus-Dieter Kaul, Rebeca and Mauricio Wild and others. ON the photo you see the social studies room of a Rebeca Wild based (RWB) school in Italy:

Be a Learning Companion: A parent’s and teacher’s genuine
interest in the child’s activity is a catalyst for learning. Spend
time together in timelessness, and give loving attention. Learn to develop your observation skills: How to observe respectfully?
What is important to notice?

Fulfill Basic Genuine Needs: Children need movement, hydration (water-drinking), play, opportunities to make choices, and timelessness in order to activate their inner learning guidance. Find ways to fulfill children’s genuine needs while honoring your own needs.

Set Healthy Boundaries: Children need the safety of consistent boundaries. Learn how to set and maintain boundaries gently and firmly. Learn how to accompany conflicts between children and help them find their own solutions.

Use “Non-Invasive Teaching”-Methods: Guided lessons are based on non-invasive communication and the respect for the child’s free will in regard to their personal learning process.

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