If it were up to my mom and dad, we would be living in the Philippines, not in China. They have been asking us if we could move back just as they had requested my sister who had lived abroad most her life, to come home. It is a difficult decision to make and not mine alone to formulate. However, I am always open and thus checked out the Waldorf School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. For years, I have had Waldorf at the back of my mind especially in the past year when I was researching alternative forms of education. I was set to enroll my kids at the TMA/Global Homeschool but then something stopped me.
It was that thing at the back of my mind that said Joshua might thrive better in a school setting. He loves having playmates and he enjoys it the most when he’s with his favorite buddies like Yinpu, Chong Chong and even others that he’s met no matter how briefly. However, we have planned this big trip albeit it’s simpler and shorter now. The arrival of a new opportunity forced us to make adjustments. My friend, Donna and I are now preparing for a nine-day camp in the Philippines for Chinese students during the winter holiday in China which falls on February. It’s a challenge we neophytes in this sort of thing are eager to take as a leap of faith. I excitedly drafted the route on power point and Donna and I are constantly in touch exchanging ideas and updates.
Donna writes for academic journals in Chinese. I used to write for magazines and newspapers. A few weeks back, we both worked on an article about Shure Univeristy, the democratic school in Tokyo that was introduced to us at the APDEC in Taiwan. After showing it to a professor, we realized it didn’t pass muster. It wasn’t “academic” enough. Our failure of sorts gave birth to the idea for the camp – genesis from a loss. Instead of writing about education that we believed in, why not put those beliefs into action and practice. We can start with a camp which, who knows, can evolve into a full-blown alternative school in the future.
Today, my dad and I went to Sta. Rosa to check out the Waldorf School. I wanted to visit the Waldorf School in Chengdu during our road trip in China but we went during the summer holiday when school was out. I have visited the Waldorf School in Timberland when Donna sent her daughter there for a week in Manila, so visiting Waldorf at Sta. Rosa today was a much-awaited trip taken with my dad who is always supportive of what I do.
I wanted to combine the trip outside Manila with researching possible places for the camp such as the Sta. Elena Fun Farm which was featured in some blogs. When we arrived there, it turned out it was only open to members or guests of members of the Sta. Elena Golf Club. I was disappointed at the exclusivity of places left and right. The most beautiful places were reserved only for the very elite few who could afford the astronomical, gravity-defying costs, but then probably, it was also a way of ensuring the area’s preservation. Were it not for a fortunate encounter with a family friend, we wouldn’t have been able to enter it, plus it was closed on a Monday to boot.
Thinking of the camp and the Waldorf at Sta. Rosa which I mistakenly thought did not have a high school (but it had actually recently started) plus the possibility of starting an alternative school in the future, sent my mind racing and careening at the sharp curves. During primary school, some sort of structure such as that offered by a traditional school or by alternatives such as Waldorf may be good for the child. But in high school and at the university levels, the tenets of democratic education seem more relevant and in some cases, urgent and necessary. I googled the schools and centers that embodied self-directed learning such as the Compass for Self-Directed Learning in Canada and North Star in Massachusetts, USA. I sent the links to Donna and told her, we could be doing something like that in the future.
Stoked by these way-out, intergalactic notions, I also rambled excitedly to an aunt about these newly hatched ideas before my dad and I set off for Sta. Rosa. I was imagining finding the perfect place where that future school could be. I was picturing the building I’d be designing to welcome the youth. When I reached Sta. Rosa, reality hit me hard at the utter craziness of the idea and I balked again as I always do after getting a brilliant idea ran over and flattened by a slew of formula one race cars and monster trucks in my brain.
How would I even start? Where would I even start? Who would even be interested? How can you even get the people for this together? And in this part of town? Are you kidding?
There it goes flying out the window. I’d have to wait for the bird to come back.
Maybe it’ll come back after the trip to see those schools and learning centers up close and personal in the United States. Maybe it’ll come back after I’ve studied the origins of those schools. Maybe it’ll come back after Donna and I have gone through the first few camps. Maybe it’ll come back after a few more stumbles and falls and friends help to get you back up.
The inspirational signs above dotted the Sta. Elena Fun Farm. Here are some links for more inspiration: