{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.