The decision to open a joint Arab -Jewish kindergarten stemmed from the belief that these two cultures, that live so close to each other, yet not together, can empower and enrich each other. Our belief is that the greatest task that stands in humanity’s way is to listen to each other, to the other’s needs and pain, and to learn to understand each other’s personality, culture, personal charm - going beyond our personal interpretation of reality, going beyond the differences which at times alienate us, and who knows - perhaps we may even learn to love one another…We believe that a child that spends time in kindergarten with children from another culture, is enriched in a way that is impossible to overestimate.
Changing lives and bringing hope: Ein Bustan is having a profound influence both on the lives of Arab and Jewish children that are playing and learning side by side, and on those of their families. You are invited to read personal experiences from the kindergarten from a Jewish mother’s perspective and also from that of a Bedouin Arab mother.
This year, we entered a new and exciting phase in the school growth.
During the past summer, pedagogical issues were reconsidered and designed anew. We organised joint training and enrichment seminars. We met with Ms. Shtamper, who shared her wealth of experience with us, in an effort to improve the ‘circle’ in each of the classes. These daily circles constitute a major joint activity that brings the children together for movement, recitations and song. To weave in both languages (Arabic and Hebrew) into such activities is for us an exciting challenge. We also met with Dr Ora Mor from the University of Haifa, who is an expert on bi-lingual education and well versed in the field. With her assistance we are creating the basis upon which we intend to continue our bi-lingual program.
Pedagogical development in bilingual instruction: In the four years in which the kindergarten has been working we have learnt that though Waldorf pedagogy does wonders in terms of bridging over cultural gaps and providing common ground for growth, it cannot equip us to deal with the bilingual aspect of our specific endeavor. Until the age of five there is no problem because children need no language in order to communicate. It does however become crucial at around the age of five and we wish to implement teaching methods typical of bilingual societies such as the Swiss, Belgian and Canadian. We first have to learn them, then adopt them to the local requirements and to Waldorf education, hopefully with the assistance of experts in the field.
We are very conscious of the fact that in order to further improve bi-lingual communication between the children we cannot simply impose it upon them. Such a practice would be surely counterproductive and might even harm the children by generating antagonism on their part. We are therefore trying a method that will draw on our everyday lives and practices. To increase the awareness of the children to their second language we identified groups of approximately 20 nouns found in the space of the school, alongside a few verbs and adjectives. The teachers will be making a conscious effort to make use of these words regularly and encourage the kids to do so as well. We aim to also closely monitor the level of their understanding, and over a period of a few weeks we intend to evaluate the success of this pedagogical program and report on the development of the language skills acquired by the children.
“Waldorf Education for Two Peoples”: We have known for the past four years that it is incumbent upon us to take the bilingual kindergarten a step further - into the classroom. In order to establish a bi-lingual primary school, we have a long and arduous journey still ahead - to speak with parents and officials, locate and train staff, meet potential pupils etc. At Ein Bustan’s initiative, a meeting will be held on October 30, 2009, under the title “Waldorf Education for Two Peoples”, to explore the possibility of opening bilingual classes as part of the Waldorf movement in Israel. The meeting will be attended by Waldorf educators and experts on bi-lingualism, and will consider a variety of issues, both ideological, pedagogical and practical. The meeting will examine such questions as: How and when can Waldorf education play its part in social justice and in creating a bridge between the two peoples living in Israel? Where and how can we establish a bilingual Waldorf school? What pedagogical and technical issues must be addressed? What authority will they have? What is the training that is necessary for future Waldorf teachers so that they will be able to educate children from two cultures? In addition, a primary discussion on organizational and budgetary issues will be held, and we hope that the meeting will be an impetus to establish a team that will deal with the above issues.
Re-examining what we think we know: Aside from the day to day functioning of the two kindergarten groups, Ein Bustan also influences the adults that are affiliated with the kindergarten, and on others in the wider community that support the association’s goals of furthering understanding and friendship. An example of a recent initiative motivated by a need to understand the “other side” is a study group for adults initiated by one of the parents in the kindergarten, that aims to take a critical look at the War of 1948 that preceded Israel’s independence as a sovereign State, known as the “War of Liberation” in the history books of the Jews, and alternatively known as the “Nakba”, or “Catastrophe” among the Arab sector. Here you can read an excerpt describing the study group.
At Ein Bustan, we are very encouraged by the support that our small project has received from many different sources, both in Israel and abroad, and we are delighted to host visitors. One of our recent visitors was a young American Moslem journalist, Farah Dosani, and you are welcome to read her impressions of Ein Bustan.
Recently we have begun to cooperate with the Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation(http://www.sashedf.org/). Pioneer educators Tally Bat Ami Zahor, representing Ein Bustan, and Lana Nasrallah, from the Arab Waldorf school Tamrat El Zeitun in Shfaram, spoke on “Healing Children While Building Bridges With Jewish and Arab Children in Israel” in a US tour that started in September 23 in New York City and concluded October 7 in Santa Cruz, CA. The pair were joined by Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein MFCC, Founder and Director of Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation, which sponsored the US tour. They spoke about the Waldorf system of education and how this global approach to curriculum is being employed in Israel to nourish and heal children, and enliven a sense of respect for humanity and participation in community. We wish to thank the many local schools, church and synagogue groups, interfaith groups and civic organizations who met them so warmly, and we hope to nurture and develop these contacts.
We send our heartfelt thanks to all our friends and supporters,
it is your help that makes our project possible.
Ein Bustan sends you warm wishes for the Winter Season
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Maayan Babustan Arab Jewish Waldorf Kindergarten,
13 Narkisim St. 36073, Kiryat Tivon, Israel, phone: +972-4-9536012