A comparative study of childhood
in Montessori, Waldorf, Progressive Schools and Auroville
by Heidi Watts,
Ph.D., Director, Education, Antioch University
a brochure published by
SAIIER in May 2000
Everyone has in him something divine, something his own,
a chance of perfection and strength in however small a sphere
which God offers him to take or refuse. The chief aim of education
should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself
which is best and make it perfect for a noble use.
A friend in Auroville said to me recently,
“What’s the kindergarten like?”, and I said, “It’s a very
special place.” “Really?”, she said. “Why? What happens there?”
This essay is an attempt to answer her questions, and similar
questions which my friends and acquaintances in and out of
Auroville have asked from time to time.
I met with the staff of the Auroville
Kindergarten in December 1996, and we asked ourselves some
related questions. What is special and what is unique about
the kindergarten in Auroville? How is it like other kindergartens
and how is it different? What is developmentally appropriate
for children at this age?
Is the kindergarten programme consistent with what is
known about the developing needs of
young children? Does it have a coherent philosophy?
To provide a background to the discussion
at our first meeting I reviewed three compatible approaches
to kindergarten instruction: Montessori, Waldorf and the Progressive
movement. At our second meeting we reviewed developmental
patterns of growth based on a book by Chip Wood called Yardsticks.
In this essay
I want to recapitulate our conversations and describe my impressions,
as an outsider, about what is special in this kindergarten.
But first I want to respond to my friend’s second question:
What happens there? My hope is that by describing a day in
the kindergarten you can visualize the people, the space and
the atmosphere as you read on.
Watch "Nandanam kindergarten 2009" video