At Nania_Education System

Today, I would like to reflect on the 1st Asian Waldorf Teachers’ conference held in Taiwan, which Teacher Thian and I attended.The education system at Nania is based on Rudolf Steiner’s work, which is also referred to as Steiner or Waldorf Education.The name Waldorf comes from the name of the first Steiner School established in Germany, in 1919. Rudolf Steiner’s work in general is also known as Anthroposophy, i.e. Knowledge (sophia) of Man (Anthrop). Besides education, Steiner’s work (Anthroposophy) also covers development in areas, such as agriculture, art, music, medicine, architecture, economy, and curative education. Steiner’s work in agriculture, known as Biodynamic Agriculture, was a pioneer development of organic agriculture.

Established as early as 1919 in Europe, Waldorf education is relatively new to Asia. Whilst international Waldorf Education Teachers’ conferences have been held for decades in Europe, this is the first time an Asia Pacific regional conference is held. It reflects the growing interest in Waldorf education and its development in this region over the last decade. Over the last ten years, many Waldorf kindergartens and schools were established in India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia. About 150 people attended the conference to exchange classroom experiences as well as teacher’s training and curriculum development for Asia.

Before my husband and I started Taska Nania 9 years ago, I taught in several Japanese government schools, i.e. primary , high school and mentally challenged children’s school for over 10 years. I had many questions about the education system I was implementing. I did not discover adequate answers and satisfaction on many issues as a teacher until I met Waldorf education.

Waldorf education employs a wholistic human development approach. It recognizes the different development phases in accordance with the biological, social and spiritual aspects of human life as well as the individuality of each human being. The education curriculum and teaching method is tailored to the need of the children experiencing their different life development phases. It clarified many pedagogical issues I had as a teacher. Working with Waldorf education is also self-development as an educator. We are inspired and challenged to work hard but we also see wonderful fruits in the shining faces of the children.

There is a popular notion since young children learn well that introducing as much intellectual work, as early as possible, will make them smarter and secure better opportunities in their life. Is it really so? Joseph Chilton Pearce, human brain research scientist and author of the ‘The biology of Transcendence’ found that the left brain, which relates to intellectual work, develops only after age 7. Until then the active brain is the right brain, which relates to emotion and movement. Undeveloped right brain cells are later destroyed by the body when children turn 11. At Taiwan we were told Joseph Chilton Pearce researched different education systems and found only Waldorf education relate to this. His grandchild is now in a Waldorf School. In Waldorf education the development of the right brain is supported through artistic work and creative play. Intellectual work is not introduced before change of teeth.

It was really encouraging to meet other colleagues from 9 other Asian countries. Nania is the first of currently two Waldorf kindergartens in Malaysia. This year, 5 Malaysian friends joined the Melbourne Steiner Education seminar for 2 years training. I look forward to their return and further development of Waldorf education in Malaysia.


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