Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tuburan: Learning with the mind, heart and hands

“Tuburan: Learning with the mind, heart and hands”
Sun.Star Davao, Feb. 13, 2016

In 1919, Dr. Rudolf Steiner started his first Steiner/Waldorf school in Stuttgard, Germany for the children of the factory workers of the Waldorf Astoria cigarette company.

“Dr. Steiner’s approach to learning and teaching is based on a thorough understanding of how children develop their thinking (minds), feeling (hearts), and willing (hands) at each age”, explains Maya Vandenbroeck, resource management head of Tuburan Institute, Inc.

Years of experience by Steiner/Waldorf practitioners from all over the world has confirmed Dr. Steiner’s findings. Human development can be divided into three major developmental stages, namely: early childhood education (0-7 years old) which focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play; elementary education (7-14 years old) which emphasizes on developing artistic expression and social capacities; and lastly, secondary education (14-21 years old) which underscores critical reasoning and emphatic understanding.

Today, there are more than 2,000 independent Steiner/Waldorf schools and 2,000 kindergartens in 60 countries – in Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania.  
Steiner/Waldorf school in Davao

Although the Steiner/Waldorf education is over a century old, its appeal continues to spread, including in Davao City where parents are tricycle drivers, teachers, lawyers, factory workers, government employees, entrepreneurs, homemakers, among others.

“Tuburan Institute, Inc. is a Security and Exchange Commission-registered, Department of Education-accredited, non-profit and non-stock community school in a nature environment located in Purok 8, Sitio New Loon, Brgy. Tugbok Proper, Tugbok District, Davao City on a one-hectare property”, says Maya.

It is the 7th Steiner/Waldorf school in the Philippines and the only one in Mindanao that is on the Freunde der Erziehungskunst’s World List of Steiner/Waldorf schools.

“Tuburan’s staff, teachers and parents, board, roundtable (management council), volunteers and supporters are committed to help pioneer Steiner/Waldorf education and make Tuburan a model Steiner/Waldorf school with distinct Mindanao flavors. It is important for us to immerse our children in Mindanao’s lingua franca, festivals, stories, musical instruments, dances, visual arts, and games”, stresses Maya.

Unlike most Steiner/Waldorf schools in the country that have significant school fees, Tuburan follows a socialized school fee system to allow low-income families to enroll their children at rates that are affordable for them.

In Tuburan, the average class size in kindergarten is 20 students and in grade school, between 15 and 25 students. Class sizes are relatively small because Steiner/Waldorf education requires teachers to cultivate a personalized relationship with each student.

For school year 2016-2017, Tuburan will be offering two kindergarten classes (3.5 to 6.5 years old), one class 1 or grade 1 (7 years old), one class 2 or grade 2 (8 years old), and 1 class 3 or grade 3 (9 years old).

Parent partners

“As a community school, Tuburan’s parents and teachers relate with each other very closely in all aspects affecting the children’s well-being. The reason is that parents are their children’s first teachers and nothing we do at school will work if it is not supported at home”, points out Maya. “That’s why in our public orientations we tell new parents that if they want to join Tuburan, they’ll have to be real partners and reinforce at home the practices, activities, and lessons learned at school”, she continues.

These can be really simple things like eating nutritious healthy food and relegating sweets to only once a week, adjusting sleeping and waking hours to follow the rhythm of the sun as it sets and rises, playing in the garden, drawing, painting or building things instead of using computers and watching television, doing simple household chores, and so on.

“Parents who want the best for their children and who want to keep pace with their children’s increasing assertiveness, curiosity and independent thinking – participate willingly in studying, learning, unlearning, working, and co-carrying Tuburan. They appreciate that Tuburan is not a ready-made school and that it is precisely this dynamism that nurtures their children’s full potentials”, Maya reveals.

Nature as an integral part

Typically, the parents that are attracted to Tuburan resonate with their approach to make nature an integral part of the daily activities. The day begins with children having to walk some 400 meters to reach its one-hectare nature property planted with fruit trees and hard wood trees bordered by a creek on one side.

“Here we will increase the plant (trees, shrubs, flowers) biodiversity to more than 200 kinds and enhance the campus as a breeding and feeding site for birds. In this way, we grow the school as an excellent environment for children to experience and observe nature life cycles from seed germination to seedling growing, fruiting, maturing, as well as go on nature walks, play nature games, and learn about decomposing, reducing use of plastics, reusing, and recycling through everyday activities”, details Maya.

“As a nature school, we’ve integrated rainwater harvesting catchments into the design of the buildings that are made of natural materials as well as concrete, iron, and cement. We make use of live trees for climbing and exercising. In kindergarten, the children play with natural materials – cut up wood, shells, leaves, seeds and teachers also make their own puppets for every story. At meal times, children eat vegetables and fruits which they grow themselves or which we buy from the organic farmers and backyard gardeners of Tugbok District”, divulges Maya.

“Needless to say, Tuburan is purposefully located far from downtown Davao City to provide growing children the space to move freely and explore nature. The effects of nature are so soothing for the Tuburan children that their parents have organized car pools to transport their children to school every day from their homes in Panacan, Buhangin, Lanang, and Toril”, she shares.

“I’m calling on Dabawenyos to join our 333 unit pledge campaign (one unit is Php 3,000). We just need 300 individuals to each pledge Php 3,000 for 3 years so we can subsidize the school fees of our children from low-income families.  The long term goal, of course, is to eventually have enough students whose socialized fees will be enough to cover Tuburan’s yearly operational expenses”, Maya enthuses.

Photos courtesy of Tuburan Institute, Inc.

For those who are interested to attend Tuburan’s school orientation, you may contact Cristina at 09094944775 or Lourdes at 2842377. For donations to support the 333 unit pledge campaign, you may reach Maya at 09081535326 or

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