IMAGINE WISDOM EDUCATION, known as I-WE, recognizes every child as a wise and divine being. We empower students to discover and share their unique gifts, in service to the community (come-unity), as soon as they desire.
Embracing Love as foundation and Imagination as inspiration, I-WE utilizes Howard Gardner’s strategies of multiple intelligences, honors ancient native teachings through storytelling and circles, as well as meditation/yoga practices. I-WE expands essential concepts from early education models such as Montessori and Waldorf, for children two to six years old, and moves towards unschooling, an educational philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities, in the real world instead of classrooms, as a primary means for learning.
Entrepreneurial skills are acquired at an early age, through apprenticeships with passionate leaders from the community. Celebration of diversity and culture is reinforced with foreign languages, compassionate communication, community service and a web connection with others around the world. I-WE prepares its students for global living and peaceful leadership that honors all beings thus, fostering a healthy society and environment.
OUR TEACHING APPROACH:
As explained in our I-WE book, our model is made up of a variety of influences from around the world, including the Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio methods. Here are a few highlights:
We incorporate NVC (non-violent/compassionate communication) at every opportunity, teaching the children to connect with their feelings as gate ways for them to express what they need. We do it with our youngest children to the level they are capable of, saying:
“I don’t like that, please don’t do that.”
“I feel sad because you don’t want to share with me or sit next to me.”
“I feel happy because I get to go to the park.”
“I feel grateful for my meal.”
The INDIGENOUS part of the teachings is weaved in many forms, but the main aspects comes from our story telling, connection and gratitude for our mother earth and ancestors, and the use of the talking stick to share at circle time. We also honor our elders in ways that are often forgotten in this society and invite them to come share their wisdom with us as often as possible.
SUSTAINABLE LIVING (Meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs) and SERVICE are incorporated in various ways. This spring we are building our organic garden and will donate some of our toys to an orphanage in Mexico.
YOGA, is incorporated into the program least once a week. It is a great way for the children to exercise their bodies, become mindful and learn simple meditation techniques.
The children take great pride in their achievements. This is also a time when we speak about cultivating PEACEFUL LEADERSHIP in Health and Happiness, inside and outside.
Lastly, but not least, LOVE and IMAGINATION are the most important part of the curriculum:
LOVE as in Everybody Wins. This is a daily practice. We only compete with ourselves, becoming the best selves we can possibly be and do not compare our gifts with those of others, as everyone’s gift matters.
IMAGINATION is nurtured at all levels and the children are encouraged to come up with new activities from puppet shows, art ideas, dressing up and pretend play, and songs and dances.
Some parents have compared I-WE to the Reggio method as we offer project based learning activities, and document most of the work we do together with the children, with photographs and videos. We do this to keep the families informed and connected, as well as to build the educational library for our long distance students.
Much of our teaching material and method was originated by Maria Montessori, who greatly inspired the I-WE model.
With regards to the Waldorf method, we have a couple of areas where we are not aligned, which explains why many believe that they are opposite methods. We have looked for the similarities, which are many, and thus offer both philosophies to I-WE children. After years of teaching and noticing how children were drawn to both, at various times and developmental stages, I am convinced that one method only, is not enough to serve our children well.
The two areas that seem to go against the Waldorf model of education are:
1. We provide Montessori material and lessons on reading/writing/math skills as soon as the children are interested in it, which often is by age three. We call “work” some of the activities the children do. Children love to imitate their parents, thus going to work is what they want to do, at times. Maria Montessori found a way to deliver reading and writing skills, in a playful and non-stressful manner, thus the reason we offer it, even to our youngest I-WE students.
Waldorf communities hold back academics until age seven because they believe that feeding the left brain during this early developmental period takes away from the optimum development of the right brain. We do not believe that is correct. Waldorf teachers teach crafts, songs and offer story time in which the children are to listen quietly. I-WE introduces letters sounds and math through songs, games and hands-on activities. We encourage children to participate, even during story time. Our interactions with the children are designed to foster inspiration, imagination and creativity. We choose to provide the richest environment possible during this short window of opportunity before age seven, when children absorb everything from their surrounding like sponges. We are intentional about fostering equal opportunity for the right and left brain development, in divine timing.
2. The Waldorf communities Redirect as a form of discipline, sometimes even when there is hitting or biting. At I-WE we treat safety and kindness in the exact same way, without shame or blame. Yet, we address it firmly, in the moment and say:
– We don’t run across the street. It is not safe.
– We don’t touch the hot stove, it it hot.
– We don’t hit, it hurts people.
We do not believe that re-directing after an act of violence was committed, no matter how mild, is honoring of the human spirit. With repetition, just like with everything else children learn, they will receive the message in their subconscious mind, from their very young age, that violence is not OK.
Maybe if we treated violent acts, or even words, as soon as they first were spoken or acted out – just like any safety measure, as a matter of fact and without shame – we would be closer to achieving world peace. This is our belief at I-WE.
“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” – Mahatma Gandhi
At I-WE, we understand that the children’s strongest role models are their parents, their teachers, and other members of their support team at school. If we can all embody the spirit of LOVE in our lives, the deep experience of love will become a natural way of life. Children will feel safe to express themselves and trust any outcome. For it is through this great feeling of love and joy, that we will all experience peace and unlimited abundance in body, mind and spirit.
The I-WE model serves young people ages 2 and up, in a very interactive, community based curriculum. With a strong multi-sensory foundation, our program has the flexibility and resilience to address each child’s needs as they arise. Our youth are encouraged to mentor younger children, serving as strong role models for them during the learning process. This enables the older children to develop leadership skills, while providing the younger ones support from their ‘school heroes and heroines.’
The mission of IMAGINE WISDOM EDUCATION (I-WE) is to offer a loving and enriching education that empowers children to realize their greatest potential. Learners ask: “Who am I? What are my gifts? How can I contribute?” This discovery of the self serves as a transforming catalyst, turning play into the pursuit of wholeness and peaceful leadership, for children learn best when they are known, explore their passions and engage all of their senses.
I-WE encourages students to develop and achieve at their own pace, as well as supporting them to share their gifts and realize their dreams. This process is based upon Maslow’s hierarchy of growth and development. The curriculum is emergent, as well as guided, and provides the structure for discovery, safety and freedom to imagine. The environment is co-created to inspire, motivate and teach, as well as reflect the children’s individual and collective visions.
I-WE embraces love as the core value of its program and utilizes Howard Gardner’s strategies of multiple intelligences (Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal). Our curriculum is dynamic and integrative. We are committed to helping children develop their highest potential – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, with a strong emphasis upon the use of imagination throughout their entire education.
I-WE communities include Daily Circle Time with the use of a Talking Stick (tool used in many Native American Traditions allowing each participant to share while others listen closely to the words being spoken) to facilitate group discussions. The talking stick is also used in times of conflict, when two or more individual are in need for an intentional dialogue.
Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” – Dalai Lama XIV
Conscious and compassionate communication is practiced daily. We combine teachings from Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC), and Imago Dialogue, created by Harville Hendrix in his book titled: Getting the Love You Want. NVC offers tools to reduce violence and create peace, by identifying and sharing feelings and needs. Imago consists of Mirroring the message received, Validating the person for feeling the way they feel (even if not agreeing with their view), Empathizing and lastly, Making a Request, which turns a frustration into a Gift to be received. Both are extremely powerful methods for mastering compassionate and empathic communication.
Many of us realize that our world has become a great deal more complex since the educational models we have inherited were developed. As a result of this, the children and their families are encouraged to participate in personal development and outdoor educational programs to help them grow strong and resilient for the exciting new emerging world.
I-WE recommends that children participate in building their educational environment and outdoor play space, such as adding tree houses and other creative projects, using their vision and imagination. If possible, at the initial gathering, the children participate in adding artistic value to their play space and “work” space. The time spent co-creating this way brings great joy and value to the children.
These long-term group projects offer in-depth experiential learning and, when completed, a great sense of accomplishment for all involved. In addition, it provides the children with opportunities to learn cooperation, creativity, communication skills and problem solving. Through their physical labor, the deep beauty they created together will continue to live within their hearts, as a visceral experience. This treasure will last for the rest of their lives. Some examples might include the children cutting boards or hammering nails for the tree house, making the cement and putting it in the ground, or painting tiles to go into one of the murals. Children of all ages can participate in this effort, making it a fantastic opportunity to connect the young ones and older members of the I-WE community. Together they can do what they can never do alone. This synergy expands their confidence to manifest their dreams.
This is a beautiful representation of one of the results I-WE is striving to achieve with its students:
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said!
“UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
‘Ubuntu” in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”