India: Inodai Waldorf School is a small school initiative in the district of Andheri West in Mumbai. The city with its growing population of about 20 million inhabitants is an agglomeration of many smaller neighbourhoods. Its infrastructure, however, is not keeping up with the constant economic and population growth at all. In fact people that are new to the city experience this when they witness the chaotic traffic situation, which is mastered by locals on a daily basis with an extraordinary calmness and flexibility that is hard to understand for Europeans. As a result teachers and students spend a lot of time commuting to school.
At Inodai the very small classrooms are all located along a narrow open passage on the first floor. Due to the heat all windows and doors are constantly open and the fans on the ceilings are always on. Thus the students are exposed to a high level of noise coming from the busy street, as Indian drivers announce every little change of direction by honking loudly. Furthermore students can see every movement in front of the open classroom door when for example the kindergarten children pass by. It is amazing to see that they are still able to focus on their lesson!
Each morning before class, all teachers assemble for a morning-circle during which they gather their focus for the coming lessons through common recitation, breathing exercises, singing and silence. The children have a morning circle as well, during which they sit on a carpet and practice religious and social rituals from Hinduism that include light, incense and breathing exercises.
Former teachers of the Tridha Steiner School in Mumbai and interested parents of six children founded the school in 2010. Currently the school is running in its third year with a large kindergarten group and grades 1, 2 and 3. Overall, more than 60 children are currently attending the initiative. The school building is located on a very busy and noisy street and a small backyard (passage to the next building) serves as a playground. The classrooms are located on the first floor of a former school building, which is also used by a pharmaceutical company. Since space is very cramped, the school community hopes to be able to soon expand to the rooms on the 2nd floor.