Waldorf education in the Israeli Desert
Israel: One of the latest Waldorf initiatives in Israel is located in the Arava Valley, a reclaimed desert on the border with Jordan, where organic farmers have settled for several years. Currently there are four classes, which are attended by a total of 61 students from the region, as well as an attached teachers’ training college.
Arava Waldorf School was founded by a group of parents living in the Tzukim Community whose children were about to begin their school years and were to old to attend the already existing local Waldorf kindergarten. Education in the Desert is the name of the non-profit trustee organisation behind the school initiative. In 2012 the school was opened with a first and a second grade with nine children in each class. The facility was a private house, which was donated by the Tzukim Community.
In 2013 the Ministry of Education informed the school that they would recognize the Waldorf initiative as a course in the Shittim School within the Regional Council. Thus the Arava Waldorf School moved its operations to mobile buildings on the Shittim School’s property, in the settlement of Sappir. The building and the garden of school were renovated by the kind help of the children's parents.
Pedagogically experienced Waldorf teachers from the Adam School in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva Waldorf School accompany the school during the development phase. Since its inception one class is added to the school each year, which means that now students also come from neighbouring settlements such as Faran, Idan and Ein Yahav.
At the same time of starting the school, the initiative also established a Waldorf Education Seminar, which is held after school hours at the school. On a regular basis experienced Waldorf teachers from throughout the country come to teach at the seminar and are available to the schoolteachers for any conciliation.
Due to the difficulty in finding teachers from other parts of the country and bringing them to the Arava, the seminar has undertaken the task of continuing to promote anthroposophy through focusing on comprehensive artistic work and the teachings of Waldorf Education in order to give birth to new educators and teachers in the Arava.The seminar has greatly contributed to a neighbourly existence between the inhabitants of the Arava Desert.