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Networking across Europe of Steiner Waldorf Parents

Jean Naude

In its current form, the European Network of Steiner Waldorf Parents (ENSWaP) has existed since 2007. The network aims to support Waldorf parents through the exchange of ideas and personal experiences. The mission of ENSWaP is to develop solidarity and understanding for a more harmonious world through Waldorf education and school communities.

This year, for the first time, the meeting took place together with teachers. The occasion was the simultaneous meeting of the European Counsel for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE), which promotes Waldorf education and educational freedom in Europe. The ECSWE is an umbrella organisation representing 27 members with schools in 29 countries.

Parents and teachers from 20 European nations, from Finland to Croatia, met from 28 to 30 April at the Waldorf School in San Vendemiano, north of Venice. For ENSWaP, it was the first meeting since the pandemic where delegates came back to a face-to-face exchange. The two central topics were cooperation between parents and teachers and media education.

Cooperation between parents and teachers

The following questions were discussed: How can parents and teachers work together to strengthen the school community? How can parents be integrated into the school community and how can teachers be supported in promoting this? What conflicts can be identified and how can they be resolved?

Media Education

The so-called HERMMES project (Hollistic Education, Resilience and Media Maturity in Educational Settings) is a three-year international project co-financed by the EU. The aim is to find solutions for age-appropriate media education. It discussed: How do we communicate our humanity? How do we use media and prevent their misuse? This concerns people who work professionally in the field of education, parents and everyone who participates in the common exchange on the topic of media and digital media education in kindergartens and schools.

In meeting and working with each other, it quickly became apparent that these questions do not only concern individual school communities, but are obviously of importance throughout Europe. Without having met before, a close feeling of togetherness quickly developed.

There was a warm and cordial atmosphere in the working groups of five people each, which led to very good suggestions. In particular, emphasis was placed on efforts to achieve good cooperation and cohabitation in the schools, guided by the parents' and teachers' common desire for togetherness.

Simultaneously with the contributions of the participants, Dorottya Budavári-Nagy beautifully created iconographies that graphically depict the themes worked on. The results of the ENSWaP conference are available at enswap.org. Further information can be found on the pages of the respective organisations.

ENSWaP itself has identified the following themes for the current and coming year:

1. rebuilding the national parent organisations affected by the lockdown. Many countries have only rudimentary functioning parent groups, due to the small number of schools on the ground.

2. supporting local parents to get involved in the school community.

3. building a list of FAQs for parents. Networking the national school communities to the ENSWaP homepage.

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